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Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Educ.

Supreme Court of the United States

January 12, 1999, Argued ; May 24, 1999, Decided

No. 97-843

Opinion

 [*632]  [***847]  [**1666]    JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

 Petitioner brought suit against the Monroe County Board of Education and other defendants, alleging that her fifth-grade daughter had been the victim of sexual harassment by another student in her class. Among petitioner's claims was a claim for monetary and injunctive relief under Title IX of [*633]  the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 86 [****9]  Stat. 373, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. The District Court dismissed petitioner's Title IX claim on the ground that "student-on-student," or peer, harassment provides no ground for a private cause of action under the statute. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, sitting en banc, affirmed. We consider here whether a private damages action may lie against the school board in cases of student-on-student harassment. We conclude that it may, but only where the funding recipient acts with deliberate indifference to known acts of harassment in its programs or activities. Moreover, we conclude that such an action will lie only for harassment that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim's access to an educational opportunity or benefit.

 Petitioner's Title IX claim was dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. ] Accordingly, in reviewing the legal sufficiency of petitioner's cause of action, "we must assume the truth of the material facts as alleged in the complaint." Summit Health, Ltd. v. Pinhas, 500 U.S. 322, 325, 114 L. Ed. 2d 366, 111 S. Ct. 1842 (1991).

Petitioner's [****10]  minor daughter, LaShonda, was allegedly the victim of  [***848]  a prolonged pattern of sexual harassment by one of her fifth-grade classmates at Hubbard Elementary School, a public school in Monroe County,  [**1667]  Georgia. According to petitioner's complaint, the harassment began in December 1992, when the classmate, G. F., attempted to touch LaShonda's breasts and genital area and made vulgar statements such as "'I want to get in bed with you'" and "'I want to feel your boobs.'" Complaint P7. Similar conduct allegedly occurred on or about January 4 and January 20, 1993. Ibid. LaShonda reported each of these incidents to her [*634]  mother and to her classroom teacher, Diane Fort. Ibid. Petitioner, in turn, also contacted Fort, who allegedly assured petitioner that the school principal, Bill Querry, had been informed of the incidents. Ibid. Petitioner contends that, notwithstanding these reports, no disciplinary action was taken against G. F. Id. P16.

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526 U.S. 629 *; 119 S. Ct. 1661 **; 143 L. Ed. 2d 839 ***; 1999 U.S. LEXIS 3452 ****; 67 U.S.L.W. 4329; 99 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3861; 99 Daily Journal DAR 4931; 1999 Colo. J. C.A.R. 2948; 12 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 280

AURELIA DAVIS, AS NEXT FRIEND OF LASHONDA D., PETITIONER v. MONROE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]  ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT.

Disposition: 120 F.3d 1390, reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

harassment, recipient, sexual harassment, schools, notice, peer, teacher, misconduct, funding, damages, student-on-student, Spending, sexual, regulations, circumstances, deliberate indifference, offensive, subjected, courts, education program, private damage, federal funds, third party, discriminate, indifferent, private cause of action, agency principles, school district, discipline, teasing

Civil Procedure, Dismissal, Involuntary Dismissals, Failure to State Claims, Education Law, Gender & Sex Discrimination, Title IX, Remedies, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Appeals, Standards of Review, General Overview, Enforcement of Title IX, Administrative Law, Agency Rulemaking, Departments of Education, US Department of Education, US Department of Education Authority, Scope of Title IX, Students, Right to Education, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Federally Assisted Programs, Federal Assistance, Constitutional Law, Congressional Duties & Powers, Spending & Taxation, Remedies, Damages, Monetary Damages, Implied Causes of Action, Governments, Federal Government, US Congress, Discrimination in Schools, Sexual Harassment, Local Governments, Claims By & Against, State Departments of Education, Authority of Departments of Education, Torts, Affirmative Duty to Act, Types of Special Relationships, Administration & Operation, Elementary & Secondary School Boards, Authority of School Boards, School Safety, Illegal Third Party Activities, Civil Liability, Harassment, Student Discipline, Misconduct, Sexual Misconduct, Criminal Law & Procedure, Crimes Against Persons, Coercion & Harassment, Elements, Abusive & Offensive Conduct