Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Ed., 526 U.S. 629 (1999)

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OCTOBER TERM, 1998

Syllabus

DAVIS, as next friend of LaSHONDA D. v. MONROE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eleventh circuit

No. 97-843. Argued January 12, 1999—Decided May 24, 1999

Petitioner filed suit against respondents, a county school board (Board) and school officials, seeking damages for the sexual harassment of her daughter LaShonda by G. F., a fifth-grade classmate at a public elementary school. Among other things, petitioner alleged that respondents' deliberate indifference to G. F.'s persistent sexual advances toward LaShonda created an intimidating, hostile, offensive, and abusive school environment that violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which, in relevant part, prohibits a student from being "excluded from participation in, be[ing] denied the benefits of, or be[ing] subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance," 20 U. S. C. 1681(a). In granting respondents' motion to dismiss, the Federal District Court found that "studenton-student," or peer, harassment provides no ground for a Title IX private cause of action for damages. The en banc Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

Held:

1. A private Title IX damages action may lie against a school board in cases of student-on-student harassment, but only where the funding recipient is deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment, of which the recipient has actual knowledge, and that harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school. Pp. 638-653.

(a) An implied private right of action for money damages exists under Title IX, Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 503 U. S. 60, where funding recipients had adequate notice that they could be liable for the conduct at issue, Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 451 U. S. 1, 17, but a recipient is liable only for its own misconduct. Here, petitioner attempts to hold the Board liable for its own decision to remain idle in the face of known student-on-student harassment in its schools. The standard set out in Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School Dist., 524 U. S. 274—that a school district may be liable for damages under Title IX where it is deliberately indifferent to known acts of teacher-student sexual harassment—also applies in cases

629

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