When School Districts Are Liable for Employee-Student Sexual Abuse under Title IX
Originally Posted to our Title IX Insights Blog.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that school districts may only be liable for employee sexual misconduct when a school official has actual notice of the conduct. In C.S. v. Madison Metropolitan School District, the Court held that the Title IX obligations of a school district are limited in this regard. While various state laws impose additional requirements beyond Title IX for Illinois schools to respond to reported sexual misconduct by a school employee, this case provides important guideposts for when school districts may be subject to liability for monetary damages under Title IX.
In this case, a middle school student alleged a school security assistant sexually abused her throughout her eighth-grade year. There was no evidence that anyone witnessed the misconduct, and the student did not report the abuse until August 2014, when she was in high school. The Court noted that “if eighth grade were the whole story, it is clear that [the security assistant’s] alleged abuse, even if proven, could not give rise to liability for the school district” because the school had no knowledge, actual or otherwise, of the abuse.