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Case Name Gay-Straight Alliance Network v. Visalia Unified Sch. Dist. ED-CA-0012
Docket / Court 1:00-cv-06616 ( E.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On September 29, 2000, a former high school student harassed for his perceived sexual orientation ("student plaintiff"), filed this federal lawsuit, pro se, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the Visalia Unified School District and school administrators and ... read more >
On September 29, 2000, a former high school student harassed for his perceived sexual orientation ("student plaintiff"), filed this federal lawsuit, pro se, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the Visalia Unified School District and school administrators and officials. On January 24, 2001, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, now represented by both private counsel and the ACLU of Northern California, and joined by a second, organizational plaintiff, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network ("GSA Network"), a youth-led non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating intolerance and homophobia in schools, was added to the first amended complaint.

In the amended complaint, filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California state law, the plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, a declaratory judgment, and damages for the creation of a hostile school environment in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection and Due Process Clause. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that from 1996 to 2000, the defendants participated in and failed to take effective measures to remedy continuing and severe harassment that the student plaintiff experienced due to his sexual orientation. This harassment created a climate hostile to LGBT students, interfered with their enjoyment of educational opportunities, and caused them physical and emotional harms.

On March 28, 2001, the Court (Senior Judge Oliver W. Wanger) granted the defendants' request for judicial notice of certified copies of official records showing registration of school district with public agencies, and denied the defendants' motion to dismiss, motion for more definite statement, motion to strike (in part), motion for summary judgment/summary adjudication. The Court found that the GSA Network had standing to bring their claims, but struck GSA Network's prayer for punitive damages against the District. Gay-Straight Alliance Network v. Visalia Unified Sch. Dist., 262 F. Supp. 2d 1088, 1112 (E.D. Cal. 2001).

However, on April 11, 2001, the Court corrected its March 28 opinion and granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the student plaintiff's request for punitive damages against the School District, finding the School District immune from exposure to punitive damages from state law claims.

The parties then settled the case: On August 15, 2002, the Court entered a consent decree and granted the parties' stipulation of dismissal, dismissing the case with prejudice. The decree required the defendants to provide for a mandatory staff training program, revise its policies, select compliance coordinators, develop systems for reporting harassment and discrimination, allow students to form a gay-straight alliance, and create a community advisory group. It was scheduled to last for six months. The docket does not indicate any subsequent substantive activity.

Stella Cernak - 03/30/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals and Timekeeping
Hire
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Sexual orientatation
General
Confinement/isolation
Failure to train
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Individualized planning
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Visalia Unified School District
Plaintiff Description A gay-straight student alliance organization and a former high school student who was harassed based on his sexual orientation.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2002 - 2003
Case Closing Year 2003
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
00-cv-06616 (E.D. Cal.) 03/09/2004
ED-CA-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Amended Complaint 01/24/2001
ED-CA-0012-0004.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order Re: Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim; Indefinite Statement; Motion to Strike; Partial Summary Judgment and/or Summary Adjudication of Issues 03/28/2001 (262 F.Supp.2d 1088) (E.D. Cal.)
ED-CA-0012-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order Re: Errata in Memorandum Opinion and Order Re: Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim; Indefinite Statement; Motion to Strike; Partial Summary Judgment and/or Summary Adjudication of Issues 04/09/2001 (262 F.Supp.2d 1088) (E.D. Cal.)
ED-CA-0012-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree and Order: Stipulation of Dismissal 08/15/2002 (E.D. Cal.)
ED-CA-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges O'Neill, Lawrence Joseph (E.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
ED-CA-0012-9000
Wanger, Oliver Winston (E.D. Cal.)
ED-CA-0012-0001 | ED-CA-0012-0002 | ED-CA-0012-0003 | ED-CA-0012-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bricks, Ann (California)
ED-CA-0012-0003 | ED-CA-0012-0004
Eichorst, John Elliot (California)
ED-CA-0012-0003 | ED-CA-0012-0004 | ED-CA-0012-9000
Kim, Robert (California)
ED-CA-0012-0004
Lewis, Kevin H. (California)
ED-CA-0012-0003 | ED-CA-0012-0004
Morris, Kathleen (California)
ED-CA-0012-0003 | ED-CA-0012-0004
Mullen, Edward B. III (California)
ED-CA-0012-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Rozier, John Laurence (California)
ED-CA-0012-0003 | ED-CA-0012-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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