Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District v. Roe

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District v. Roe

In this Title IX sexual harassment case, Public Justice successfully opposed a cert petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the matter.

During middle school in Texas, “Jane Roe” started dating a classmate, “John Doe,” who physically and emotionally abused her. During their freshman year at a high school in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, John sexually assaulted Jane in a school stairwell. Jane suffered serious injuries from the assault, requiring multiple surgeries. The District’s assistant principal, who was responsible for addressing the reported assault, jumped to the conclusion that the conduct was consensual sex and failed to perform an investigation.

After the assault, Jane enrolled in homebound classes rather than returning to school. The District delivered coursework to Jane but gave no instruction and refused to provide counseling. When Jane returned to school the following year, she often saw John, who threatened her family. Other classmates harassed Jane as well. Because of the harassment, Jane attempted suicide and briefly transferred to a new school. When Jane tried to return to the District, school staff refused to commit to even basic measures to keep Jane safe, such as rescheduling her classes so she could avoid John. Instead, a District employee encouraged Jane’s mother to homeschool Jane. Jane withdrew from the District and never returned to it or any other school.

Jane sued the District in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Among other claims, she alleged that the District violated Title IX by acting with deliberate indifference to sexual harassment. The district court granted summary judgment to the school, tossing the case before Jane had a chance to present her case to a jury. Jane appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which reversed the district court in part, allowing Jane to proceed on a Title IX claim.

In September 2023, the District filed a cert petition asking the Supreme Court to take the case to determine whether, under Title IX, a plaintiff needs to show that she experienced further harassment after reporting a sexual assault to her school. Public Justice joined the case to oppose that petition. The Supreme Court denied the petition in February 2024.

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