Posted Date: June 30th, 2015 |
The U.S. District Court has denied Western Brown Local School District’s Motion to Dismiss a § 1983 claim we filed for racial discrimination. Senior District Judge Beckwith stated in her decision:
There is no question that, at least based on the factual allegations of the complaint, E.F. was subjected to an extended and pervasive course of racial harassment from his fellow students. Additionally, at least some of E.F.’s teachers made racially derogatory comments to E.F.’s class. Moreover, it can be inferred that at least one teacher discriminated against E.F. on the basis of race in grading his school work. Plaintiffs complained on multiple occasions to both school administrators and members of the School Board about the harassment to which E.F. was being subjected. Second Amended Complaint ¶ 43. Nevertheless, according to the complaint, Plaintiffs complaints were essentially ignored — neither the school administrators nor the School Board took any affirmative measures to stop the harassing conduct. Discipline, with one exception, was not meted out to offending students; teachers and administrators remained uneducated and untrained on how to deal with racial harassment. Id. ¶¶ 20, 23, 27, 30, 32, 38, 40. Additionally, the School Board failed to appoint an anti-harassment compliance officer as required by its by-laws. Id. ¶ 58. Clearly, the failure of the School Board to take any steps to stop the racial harassment E.F. was experiencing, despite its awareness that such harassment was ongoing, is not reasonable and can be said to represent an official policy or custom of the School Board…..
In summary, then, the Second Amended Complaint adequately states a claim under § 1983 that the School Board had a policy of deliberate indifference to the racial harassment and discrimination allegedly suffered by Plaintiffs. The exact contours of Plaintiffs’ claim can be fleshed out in discovery.
A school district may be liable under § 1983 for a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if it is deliberately indifferent to student-on-student racial harassment. In order to state a claim against a municipality for a constitutional violation based on deliberate indifference or inaction, the plaintiff must allege facts demonstrating:
(1) the existence of a clear and persistent pattern of discrimination by municipal employees;
(2) notice or constructive notice on the part of the municipality;
(3) the municipality’s tacit approval of the unconstitutional conduct, such that its deliberate indifference in its failure to act can be said to amount to an official policy of inaction; and
(4) that the municipality’s custom was the “moving force” or direct causal link in the constitutional deprivation.
The Jones Law Group is committed to protecting the rights of minority students in Ohio. If you have concerns about racial discrimination in schools please contact us at (614) 545-9998.