Posted on October 11, 2021
By: Lily Crespo Esq.
Today we cover some Title IX cases around the country with some helpful takeaways and best practices for educators.
A former student on filed a lawsuit against Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, alleging negligence in hiring a teacher who was ultimately convicted of sexually abusing him and sentenced to prison in 2008. In his lawsuit, former student James McDaniel accused the district of failing to conduct a “basic and proper” background check on Michael Cardoza, who taught math at Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley high schools between 1997 and 2006.
Educator Takeaway: This case illustrates how background checks must be implemented and applied consistently to avoid abuse of students. Contact us if you need help updating your background check and fingerprint procedures.
Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia’s largest district, has removed two books from high school libraries after a couple of speakers at a recent school board meeting denounced the texts for sexually explicit language, scenes and imagery including what one speaker called “homoerotic” content.
A former Keller ISD student and her family say the school district failed to prevent a teacher and coach from sexually harassing and stalking the girl while she was a student. Rickey Badley, 45, was a Timber Creek High School teacher and track coach. He pleaded guilty in October to stalking and possession of child pornography and was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Throughout the harassment, Keller ISD did not fire Badley, launch an investigation or tell him to stop contacting the girl, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas— Fort Worth Division.
Educator Takeaway: If you become aware of any sexual harassment at your school, immediately consult legal counsel. Conducting a thorough Title IX investigation will assist in protecting the school from responsibility for sexual abuse of students or staff. A timely response to these allegations could have helped the victim and saved the school district time and money.
A Southern California school district has agreed to pay $11 million to settle a lawsuit filed by seven victims and alleged victims of a former middle school teacher who is serving a 74-year prison sentence for sexual abuse. The San Bernardino Sun reported Thursday that the settlement by the Redlands Unified School District ends litigation initially comprising four separate lawsuits involving Sean Ramiro Lopez, who taught English at Clement Middle School. More than 20 teachers and administrators in a California school district have been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with their students over the last ten years, making the district’s pupil-to-perpetrator ratio one of the state’s highest. The district has spent millions on civil lawsuit settlements, and two students have committed suicide.
- Within three months of being hired in 1999, principal Marilyn Kemple received seven reports from students that Lopez was engaging in inappropriate behavior, including discussing piercings, masturbation, and suicide with his students. Lopez also brought photographs of naked women to school and would show them to male students ages 12 to 13. Two other school administrators were informed of the reports, but none of the adults took any action to protect students from Lopez. Principal Kemple retired in 2004 without any reprimands from the district.
Educator Takeaway: Again, a timely response to sexual harassment allegations can save districts a lot of trouble. Having current policies and procedures in place to address these issues can help when/if defending the actions of the district.
As you consider these and other issues, we recommend you speak with your school lawyer or contact Bea, Kevin, Megan, Beth, and Lily by email or at 406-542-1300 to discuss these issues.