Federal judge orders Metro schools to pay thousands in lawsuit

Metro school bus.jpg
Posted at 4:50 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 20:43:06-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A federal judge has ordered Metro schools to pay tens of thousands of dollarsafter ruling the districtdidn't do enough to protect a female student from harassment.

The case made news several years ago after a student was videotaped then that video was posted online.

The judge found Metro didn't do enough to protect a girl victimized in something known as "exposing."

It took nearly five years, but a federal judge this week found Metro liable under Title IX — essentially that it failed to protect the young victim from being harassed at school.

Lawyers Mary Parker and Stephen Crofford sued Metro Schools on behalf of several female students at two Metro high schools.

This was the first case from 2017 to go to trial for a judge's bench trial.

"She found Metro violated Title IX," Parker said.

The case involved a female student at Hunters Lane who said she taken into a classroom by a male student, led to have sex, which was recorded on video by another student, and then posted online. This is a practice known as "exposing."

"The emotional impact on them is horrible. They are shamed and dropped out of school," Parker said.

A complaint was filed with the school, but Crofford said nothing was done as required under Title IX to help the victim.

"The problem was Metro was deliberately indifferent and allowed other students to harass this girl after she reported the sexual harassment, the sexual assault, the video."

And, no criminal charges were ever filed.

"The court found in this particular case that this particular student was failed by the police — was failed by the Metro system," Parker said.

Despite the ruling, Parker and Crofford aren't convinced anything has changed in Metro and have filed similar lawsuits on behalf of other students since the first case.

Metro issued this statement on the ruling:

"These situations are sensitive in nature and we have been actively working as a district to improve our systems of support since this occurred back in 2017. The court acknowledged the steps taken by Dr. Battle to create the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX coordinator who helps train and prepare staff in how best to handle situations and offers guidance and investigatory support as needed. We train our principals and staff to take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously and to respond quickly."

One of the main improvements by the district is to now require that all such harassment complaints automatically be sent to the Title IX investigator.

In this case, the judge ordered Metro to pay $70,000 in damages.