The Cheer Scandal: When Students Accuse Teachers

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

When Netflix released the six-episode docudrama Cheer, following the lives and competitions of Navarro College's championship cheerleading squad, the world was obsessed. While Netflix hasn't released official viewer numbers, millions have watched the show since its release in January of 2020. But fans were crushed in September when the show's break-out star, Jerry Harris, faced child pornography charges in federal court.

In the wake of Jerry Harris's arrest, USA Today released a shocking report revealing that many people with criminal records, including crimes against children, are involved in competitive cheerleading. Parents put cheerleading coaches in a position of trust and power over their children. It happens in gyms and schools across the country. While schools typically run criminal background checks, new allegations pop up all the time. So, what happens when kids, parents, or the police accuse a teacher or school coach of sexual misconduct?

Criminal Charges

If you're a coach or teacher facing allegations of misconduct from a student, first and foremost, you need to worry about criminal charges. If you work with children under 18, your school will call the police because they are mandatory reporters, and the law obligates them to report any allegation of harm to a student. The police may arrest you, and you could face serious criminal charges. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. But even if you don't face criminal charges, or are found not guilty by a court, you will still face Title IX disciplinary proceedings from your employer.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal civil right law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"), 20 USC §1681 et seq. The law prohibits sex-based discrimination at educational institutions receiving federal funds and includes K through 12 schools and colleges and universities. Title IX applies to students, faculty, administrative staff, vendors working at the school, and other full-time and part-time employees or contractors.

While a school district's disciplinary proceedings often overlap with Title IX, the law and regulations governing Title IX will most likely apply. Title IX violations can include:

  • Sexual assault, battery, or coercion
  • Sexual harassment
  • Gender discrimination
  • Sexually suggestive jokes and catcalling
  • Physical sexual advances
  • Stalking, dating, or domestic violence
  • Offensive touching
  • Bullying
  • Non-consensual sex

Once a school knows of a potential Title IX allegation, it has a legal duty to investigate. If a school fails to end and remedy the alleged behavior, it could face sanctions from the Department of Education or a private Title IX lawsuit from victims.

Hire an Experienced Advisor and Title IX Attorney

If you are a teacher or coach facing school misconduct charges, you need an experienced attorney right away. Even if you don't face criminal charges, your job is on the line. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a seasoned Title IX attorney and has experience in thousands of school discipline matters across the country. He can help you manage all of the possible fallout from misconduct allegations. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or reach out to us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he has sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address school-related issues and concerns anywhere in the United States.


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