University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name DOJ and OCR Investigation of Tehachapi Unified School District ED-CA-0017
Docket / Court OCR 09-11-1031, DJ 169-11 ( No Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
In September 2010, a 13-year-old Tehachapi Unified School District ("TUSD") middle school student committed suicide. In October 2010, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") received a complaint alleging that the student had been the victim of severe and persistent peer-on- ... read more >
In September 2010, a 13-year-old Tehachapi Unified School District ("TUSD") middle school student committed suicide. In October 2010, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") received a complaint alleging that the student had been the victim of severe and persistent peer-on-peer sex-based harassment because of his perceived sexual orientation and gender non-conformity. After receiving the complaint, the OCR initiated an extensive investigation under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 into the circumstances leading to the student's death. The OCR and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice ("the Division") documented the findings of the investigation in a June 30, 2011 letter. The harassment for which the student was targeted for two years included ongoing and escalating verbal, physical, and sexual harassment by other students at school; was sufficiently severe, pervasive and persistent to interfere with the Student's educational opportunities; and, despite having notice of the harassment, TUSD did not adequately investigate or otherwise respond to it.

On June 30, 2011, TUSD entered into an agreement with the OCR and the Division, resolving the investigation. The agreement requires TUSD to take all reasonable steps to ensure that all TUSD students are not subject to sex-based harassment, and to respond promptly and appropriately to all reports of harassment. Specifically, TUSD must revise its policies and regulations related to sex-based harassment and retain a consultant to provide mandatory trainings on such harassment for all students, administrators, teachers, counselors and other staff who interact with students; assess the presence of sex-based harassment through annual school climate surveys; form an advisory committee of administrators, students and parents to advise TUSD on school climate issues related to sex-based harassment; take appropriate corrective action with respect to any employee who failed to respond appropriately to notice of harassment of the student whose death led to the complaint at the base of the investigation; develop a TUSD-wide monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of the district's anti-harassment efforts; and provide semi-annual compliance reports to the OCR and the Division for five years. The agreement will terminate when the district has achieved compliance with its terms, but no earlier than July 1, 2016.

Heather Turner - 06/05/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Tehachapi Unified School District
Plaintiff Description U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
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 Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2011 - 2016
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
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 ]

Links Dear Colleague Letter: Athletic Activities Counted for Title IX Compliance
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
Posted: Sep. 17, 2008
By: United States Department of Education—Office of Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Findings Letter 06/30/2011
ED-CA-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Education Section
Resolution Agreement 06/30/2011
ED-CA-0017-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Document Source: U.S. DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Education Section
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bhargava, Anurima (District of Columbia)
ED-CA-0017-0001
Pelchat, Zachary (District of Columbia)
ED-CA-0017-0001
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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