University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Ketchum v. Newport-Mesa Unified Sch. Dist. ED-CA-0011
Docket / Court 09-ED-00120182 ( State Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Southern California
Case Summary
On March 18, 2009, a female high school senior, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, filed this lawsuit against Newport-Mesa Unified School District. This suit was filed in the Superior Court of Orange County pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 168 ... read more >
On March 18, 2009, a female high school senior, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, filed this lawsuit against Newport-Mesa Unified School District. This suit was filed in the Superior Court of Orange County pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 1681-1688 alleging that the plaintiff's high school had a hostile, sexist and homophobic atmosphere that officials had permitted to flourish at the school.

In January 2009, the plaintiff was specifically threatened with sexual assault and murder in a Facebook video message posted to the high school's Facebook page. The video also included homophobic remarks directed at another student. After filing a complaint with the school, and being assured that those responsible for the video would be punished, the plaintiff was threatened again, this time in person. After the school continued to refuse to punish those threatening the plaintiff, she and her parents filed this lawsuit against the school and the school district.

The plaintiffs sought an injunction prohibiting defendants from continuing to discriminate by failing to respond reasonably to complaints of harassment and hostility based on sex and sexual orientation. The plaintiffs requested the defendants to adopt a formal process for the filing and investigation of a complaint when a student is subjected to harassment or discrimination because of sex or actual or perceived sexual orientation, publish this process, and notify all students and parents about this process. The plaintiffs also requested that the defendants designate and train specific school staff to be point persons for students to talk to regarding harassment or discrimination because of sex or actual or perceived sexual orientation.

On August 26, 2009, a district-wide training was provided to all leadership team members. Participants in this leadership team training included all school site administrators, as well as all district managers. As the parties began settlement negotiations, the plaintiffs waived any potential claim to damages for emotional distress she may have suffered, and instead sought staff and student training, clarification and dissemination of complaint and harassment policies, and a promise of legal compliance by the district.

On September 9, 2009, the parties filed a settlement agreement. The agreement required that district officials provided a written apology to the plaintiff, that the district provide mandatory training sessions for administrators, teachers, and students that would focus on the harmful impact of sexual discrimination and harassment, as well as protocol to be followed whenever anyone experience discrimination or harassment based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The training mandated by the settlement was to be conducted under the direction and guidance of the Orange County/Long Beach regional office of the Anti-Defamation League. It included an eight-hour program for all district managers, school-site administrators, principals and assistant principals.

The settlement agreement remained in effect through June 30, 2010, the end of the 2009-2010 academic school year.

The case is closed.

Ginny Lee - 03/09/2017


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Remedial education
Training
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Newport-Mesa Unified School District
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff was a high school student who received verbal threats and harassment based on sexual orientation.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Southern California
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se 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 2009 - 2010
Filing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  Dear Colleague Letter: Athletic Activities Counted for Title IX Compliance
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
Date: Sep. 17, 2008
By: United States Department of Education—Office of Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
09-ED-00120182 (State Trial Court)
ED-CA-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/2009
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Complaint
ED-CA-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/18/2009
Source: ACLU
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 16]
ED-CA-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 41]
ED-CA-0011-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Lawyers Helzer, Belinda Escobosa (California)
ED-CA-0011-0001
Rifkin, Lori Ellen (California)
ED-CA-0011-0001 | ED-CA-0011-0002 | ED-CA-0011-0003
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California)
ED-CA-0011-0001
Villagra, Hector O. (California)
ED-CA-0011-0001 | ED-CA-0011-0002 | ED-CA-0011-0003

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -