NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A federal judge has ruled to allow a lawsuit against Metro Nashville Public Schools to move forward. It alleges widespread sexual harassment of students in Metro schools being ignored by teachers and administrators.
The strongly-worded ruling could cost this city millions of dollars and exposes a serious problem in Metro schools.
"We're wanting the school system to clean this up," said attorney Stephen Crofford.
He represents four unnamed female students at Maplewood and Hunters Lane High Schools. They've claimed the schools failed to properly respond to student-on-student sexual misconduct.
In these cases, the acts were recorded by the males involved and then circulated for others to see, and the claim is nothing was done.
"These were freshman girls, and I don't have to tell you that a sex tape circulated is devastating," said Crofford.
Metro sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, but the judge rejected that and Crofford says the case is just the tip of the iceberg.
The federal judge cited disturbing numbers of cases from a three-year period:
- 950 incidents of sexual harassment
- 1,200 incidents of inappropriate sexual behavior
- 45 cases of sexual assault
- 218 instances of inappropriate sexual contact.
"The judge said there's no way Metro should not have known this was a problem in the school system, and they were deliberately indifferent and did not take steps to fix it," said Crofford.
The crux of the lawsuit is that Metro schools leadership knew about the problems, did nothing to prevent them and failed to report them thus leaving students at risk.
The case is now headed to trial. Metro schools recently settled several lawsuits for big money involving harassment of adult employees.
These young female students are suing for $3 million each.