Supreme Court says Massachusetts family can pursue civil rights claims against district

Jan. 22, 2009
Supreme Court says Massachusetts family can pursue civil rights claims against district Lower courts had restricted legal avenues for parents of girl who allegedly was harassed

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a family can sue the Barnstable (Mass.) school district for gender discrimination and civil rights violations. Lisa and Robert Fitzgerald sued the Barnstable schools and educators directly involved in what the parents allege was improper treatment of their daughter, Jacqueline, in 2000-2001. Court papers say the daughter rode a bus to elementary school, and each time she wore a dress, an older boy bullied her into lifting up her skirt. The Fitzgeralds sued in federal court, citing Title IX and federal civil rights law. Title IX bars sex discrimination in schools that receive federal money. Lower courts ruled that the Fitzgeralds could not use the federal civil rights law and said the Fitzgeralds could sue only under Title IX, which would not allow them to seek damages. The Supreme Court ruled that the lower court decisions were too restrictive.

To read The Boston Globe article, click here.

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