Sunday, August 31, 2014

School Officials Do Not Enjoy Immunity In Equal Protection Suit Claiming Anti-Jewish Fellow-Student Harassment

In Shiveley v. Green Local School District Board of Education, (6th Cir., Aug. 27, 2014), parents sued school board members for permitting the anti-Jewish harassment and bullying of their daughter by fellow students.  School board members claimed qualified immunity.  In a 2-1 decision, the court held that defendants were not entitled to immunity as to plaintiffs' equal protection claim.  The majority said:
It is difficult to imagine how any school administrator could think he would not be liable for allowing unregulated religious and gender-based persecution that spanned a four-year period.
The majority also held that defendants were not entitled to immunity on plaintiffs' state law claim that defendants were liable for negligence for making the deliberate decision not to enforce anti-bullying policies even though they knew of the bullying of their daughter, including a report that her name was on a "kill list."

All three judges agreed that plaintiffs were entitled to qualified immunity as to plaintiffs' substantive due process claim. saying that " it was not clearly established that school officials violate due process by failing to address student-on-student harassment."