It’s a sad fact of life that sexual harassment can happen just about anywhere. In addition to professional and social situations, sexual harassment can also be a problem in the school setting. More than just minor teasing or ribbing, sexual harassment that is pervasive in nature and goes unresolved by school officials has a devastating impact on the psyche of the victim and creates a hostile or abusive educational environment. These effects can take a toll for many years to come. Because of this, schools are legally obligated to respond promptly and effectively protect their students from all threats, including sexual harassment, which create a hostile learning environment.
Martinez, Hart, Thompson & Sanchez, P.C. has represented many children in sexual harassment claims. If your child has suffered sexual harassment at school, we are ready to listen and ready to stand up for your child.
Yes. In New Mexico, students who suffer sexual harassment at school may have different legal options under New Mexico law or Federal law. For example, if the sexual harassment was suffered in a public school, the student may have a claim for against the school and its officials under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act if the sexual harassment caused any physical injuries. Additionally, if that same student had previously reported the sexual harassment and the school did not respond quickly and effectively, the student may have a claim against the school under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and, possibly separate civil rights claims against the individual school officials.
Evaluating what kind and whether to bring a lawsuit against a school for sexual harassment requires an expert evaluation. Martinez, Hart, Thompson & Sanchez, P.C. is available for a free consultation to review the circumstances of your child’s sexual harassment claims. If your child has suffered sexual harassment at school, we are ready to listen and help you investigate and prosecute your child’s sexual harassment claims.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that covers sexual discrimination within school settings. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in all learning institutions receiving any federal funds. All public and private elementary and secondary schools, school districts, colleges, and universities receiving any federal funds must comply with Title IX. Under Title IX, all types of sex-based discrimination and harassment are prohibited, including sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual battery, sexual coercion, and rape.
Schools throughout New Mexico are required to maintain and operate safe learning environments. This requires schools to develop, implement, and enforce policies that quickly identify and resolve sexual harassmen.
Every school that receives federal funding must have and distribute a policy against sexual discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. Title IX requires schools to create and distribute policies that detail their methods of dealing with sexual harassment. This includes a method for reporting complaints, so students can safely and easily make harassment issues known. Additionally, schools must select a title IX coordinator, who is responsible for ensuring compliance.
Every school that receives federal funding has a responsibility to respond promptly and effectively. If a school knows or reasonably should know about sexual harassment or sexual violence that creates a hostile environment, the school must take immediate action to eliminate the sexual harassment or sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. Even if a student victim of harassment or his or her parents don’t want to file an official complaint, the school must still take the appropriate action to investigate what occurred and take the proper steps to prevent future harassment. A separate criminal investigation into the allegaitons of sexual harassment or sexual violence does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptlyu and equitably.
Students should be able attend school free of concerns about their safety, and parents must feel confident sending their children off to learn each morning. If your child informs you of harassment at school, contact the school principal immediately to make them aware of the issue. If they fail to take action, or the actions they take are unsuccessful, professional legal help is necessary to hold the school accountable and ensure no other students are harmed.
Here at Martinez, Hart, Thompson & Sanchez, P.C., we’re committed to advocating on behalf of the most vulnerable people in society. We have the expertise to readily identify wrongdoing and develop a suitable legal strategy.