Another school is being sued for violating Title IX. This time, it's an Alabama high school. The lawsuit claims that the school failed to take appropriate measures to keep a “known sex predator” away from students there.
The decision to file a Title IX claim is an interesting one, as there is already a civil claim for just this purpose: Negligent hiring.
High School Faces Title IX Claim for Teacher's Alleged Sexual Misconduct
The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District Court of Alabama against the Clarke County School District.
The lawsuit claims that the School District had known that the history teacher and assistant football coach at the Jackson High School had a “propensity to touch minors for the sole purpose of personal sexual gratification” since at least 2012. Nevertheless, the lawsuit alleges, the High School failed to take action against him.
In 2016, the teacher and coach was charged with having sexual contact with a student – a felony offense because he was a school employee. He pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and was sentenced to two years of probation and surrendered his teaching certifications to the state Board of Education.
The same incident that led to the criminal charges against the teacher is now the basis of the civil lawsuit filed against the School District. The claim was filed by parents on behalf of “Jane Doe” against the School District and several officials in it, including:
- The history teacher and football coach who pleaded guilty
- Clarke County Superintendent
- The principal of the Jackson High School
- The School District's Title IX Coordinator
This is What Negligent Hiring Lawsuits are For
The lawsuit includes a claim that the School District violated Title IX by sexually discriminating against the assault victim.
In the past, though, incidents like these fell squarely within the realm of negligent hiring lawsuits. These personal injury claims argue that an employer or organization should be held accountable and liable for the actions of its employees when those actions could easily have been foreseeable based on the employee's past conduct or criminal history.
A negligent hiring claim in this particular case would involve the assault victim providing evidence that the history teacher, for example, had prior incidents of child molestation or assault, but that the School District decided to hire him, anyway.
Including a Title IX claim in the lawsuit does little but add pressure to the lawsuit. The School District is now fighting to preserve its federal funding, making it far more likely to settle for amounts well above what they would otherwise consider.
Title IX Defense Lawyer and Advisor Joseph D. Lento
The incident illustrates just another way that victims and plaintiff's lawyers can use Title IX for ulterior motives. By threatening to strip the school of its federal funding, they are turning a negligent hiring case into something that it isn't.