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Sexual Harassment

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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Public School Law, School Law, School Legal Issues, Educational Laws & Policies …

Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Public School Law, School Law, School Legal Issues, Educational Laws & Policies

Professorial Roles

Dr. Kritsonis has served in professorial roles at Central Washington University, Washington; Salisbury State University, Maryland; Northwestern State University, Louisiana; McNeese State University, Louisiana; and Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge in the Department of Administrative and Foundational Services.
In 2006, Dr. Kritsonis published two articles in the Two-Volume Set of the Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration published by SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, California. He is a National Reviewer for the Journal of Research on Leadership, University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA).
In 2007, Dr. Kritsonis was invited to write a history and philosophy of education for the ABC-CLIO Encyclopedia of World History.
Currently, Dr. Kritsonis is Professor of Educational Leadership at Prairie View A&M University – Member of the Texas A&M University System. He teaches in the PhD Program in Educational Leadership. Dr. Kritsonis taught the Inaugural class session in the doctoral program at the start of the fall 2004 academic year. In October 2006, Dr. Kritsonis chaired the first doctoral student to earn a PhD in Educational Leadership at Prairie View A&M University. He has chaired over 18 doctoral dissertations. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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  • 1. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Sexual Harassment “Teacher v. Student”
  • 2. What is Sexual Harassment
    • Sexual harassment is a serious problem for students at all educational levels. Students in elementary and secondary schools, as well as vocational schools, apprenticeship programs, colleges and universities can be victims of sexual harassment. It is different from flirting, playing around, or other types of behavior that you enjoy or welcome.
  • 3.
    • Sexual harassment can be requests for sexual favors or unwelcome sexual behavior that is bad enough or happens often enough to make you feel uncomfortable, scared or confused. It may interfere with your schoolwork or your ability to participate in extracurricular activities or attend classes. Sexual harassment can happen to girls and boys.
  • 4.
    • Sexual harassment can be
    • verbal (comments about your body, spreading sexual rumors, sexual remarks or accusations, dirty jokes or stories)
    • physical (grabbing, rubbing, flashing or mooning, touching, pinching in a sexual way, sexual assault)
    • visual (display of naked pictures or
    • sex-related objects, obscene gestures) Sexual harassment can happen to girls and boys.
  • 5. Two Kinds of Sexual Harassment
    • There are two kinds of sexual harassment:
    • quid pro quo
    • hostile environment
  • 6. Quid Pro Quo
    • Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a teacher offers you a better grade or treats you better if you do something sexual. It could also be a threat to lower your grade or treat you worse than other students if you refuse to go along with a request for a sexual favor.
  • 7. Hostile environment
    • Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when unwanted sexual touching, comments, and/or gestures are so bad or occur so often that it interferes with your schoolwork, makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at school, or prevents you from participating in or benefiting from a school program or activity. This type of harassment does not have to involve a threat or promise of benefit in exchange for a sexual favor.
  • 8. Sexual Harassment is Against the Law
    • The federal law prohibiting sexual harassment in schools is Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which prohibits any person, on the basis of sex, to be subjected to discrimination in an educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Also, it is illegal to intimidate, threaten, or coerce a person who has taken action under Title IX.
  • 9. Landmark Cases
    • Doe v. Taylor ISD, 1994
    • Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 1992
    • Gonzalez v Ysleta ISD, 1993
    • Rabe v Lewisville ISD, 1994
    • Molina v Pasadena ISD, 1989
    • Gebser v Lago Vista ISD
  • 10. Doe v. Taylor ISD, 1994
    • The case was based on a sexual relationship between a teacher/coach and a minor student. Rather than seeking redress under state law for assault or negligence of some sort, the student alleged that her constitutional rights had been violated. The student alleged that the Constitution protects her from physical sexual abuse at the hands of her teachers. The Fifth Circuit agreed, thus opening the door to potential liability.
  • 11. Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 1992
    • In this case, petitioner Franklin, a student in a high school alleged that she had been subjected to continual sexual harassment and abused by a teacher, Andrew Hill. After the complaint was filed, Mr. Hill resigned on the condition that all matters pending against him would be dropped, and the school would close it’s investigation. The District Court subsequently dismissed the complaint on the ground that Title IX does not authorize an award damages, he the Court of Appeals affirmed.
  • 12. Gonzalez v Ysleta ISD, 1993
    • In this case doing nothing could lead to an accusation of deliberate indifference, which could lead to liability. An Ysleta ISD teacher was accused of sexually molesting a first grader. School officials had conducted an investigation after two previous reports of the teacher’s improper contact with students, such as letting them sit on his lap and putting his arm around their waists. Following the investigation, the school board decided to transfer the teacher to a different school rather than terminating the teacher, as was customary in the district when instances of child abuse arose. The molestation continued after the transfer. The parents of the student sued the school district in federal court, alleging that by not terminating the teacher, the district was deliberately indifferent to the student’s welfare.
  • 13. Gebser v Lago Vista ISD
    • School districts cheered when the Supreme Court held in Gebser v Lago Vista ISD that school officials are not responsible for a teacher's sexual harassment of a student unless they actually knew of the behavior and purposely looked the other way. In Gebser , Alida Gebser, a high school student, sued her school district for sexual harassment based upon the illicit actions of her teacher, Frank Waldrup. Waldrup instigated sexual relations with Gebser, coupled with suggestive comments in the classroom, when she was 14 years old and continued this behavior until discovered by the police approximately 1½ years later.
  • 14. Gebser v Lago Vista ISD continued
    • Gebser had not reported the relationship to school officials, testifying that she was unsure what to do and didn't want to lose Waldrop as a teacher; however, other parents had complained to the principal about Waldrop's use of inappropriate comments in class. Gebser's suit claimed that under Title IX the school district was vicariously liable for Waldrup's illicit behavior. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that liability under Title IX does not extend to a school district unless an official "who at a minimum has authority to institute corrective measures on the district's behalf has actual notice of, and is deliberately indifferent to, the teacher's misconduct."
  • 15. Rabe v Lewisville ISD, 1994 & Molina v Pasadena ISD, 1989
    • A teacher with a continuing contract was writing a student notes, going over her house when her parents were not home, and kissing her on the lips constituted good cause for termination on grounds of immorality in the case of Rabe v Lewisville ISD, 1994. Even if the student consents to the relationship, grounds for termination may be established. As noted in the Molina v Pasadena ISD, 1989 decision, “Even if the student were an adult, the fact that a student was as student is the controlling point. It is this status and this relationship that constitutes immoral conduct.”
  • 16. Common sense rules to prevent false claims
    • Try not to be alone with students particularly in isolated locations.
    • Avoid physical contact with student which could be misunderstood as sexual in nature.
    • Avoid any written communications with students which could be misconstrued as personal or romantic.
    • Avoid off-the cuff comments on students’ physical appearance or discussing personal topics which could be construed as sexual.
    • If a student confides in you regarding a personal topic of sexual nature, either invite another adult to join the conversation or report in writing immediately.
  • 17. Resources
    • Code of Ethics and Standard Practices for Texas Educators website: www.sbec.state.tx.us
    • Equal Rights Advocates: Sexual Harassment at School: Know Your Rights website: http://www.equalrights.org/ublications/kyr/shchool.asp
    • FindLaw website: http://caselaw.findlaw.com
    • Sexual Harassment and Students website: http://cmswashingtonea.org/wea/PUBLICAT/LEGAL/SEXHAR5.HTM
    • Walsh, J., Kemerer, F., and Maniotis, L. (2005). The Educator’s Guide to Texas School Law. University of Texas Press, 6th Edition.

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