Can Private Schools Be Held Accountable for Sexual Assault by Teachers?

Can Private Schools Be Held Accountable for Sexual Assault by Teachers?

Private schools can be held accountable when teachers sexually assault students. Although private schools do not receive federal funding and they are exempt from Title IX requirements that allow lawsuits for sexual abuse or harassment, they have a duty of care to protect students from harm.

Private School Liability for Sexual Assaults

Under federal law, schools that receive government funding under Title IX can be held legally liable for teacher sexual misconduct. Title IX provisions in the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 allow parents to file lawsuits in District Court against public schools if their child is sexually assaulted, abused, or harassed by a teacher or school employee. Private schools rely on private funding rather than federal funding to operate, so provisions under Title IX to not apply.

Although most private schools are exempt from Title IX legal requirements, they still have a professional responsibility to protect their students from harm under a recognized standard of care. The U.S. Department of Education and the Office for Civil Rights promotes a positive learning environment that is free from discrimination for all students. Under a safe standard of care, sexual violence and/or abuse and harassment interfere with a positive learning environment and a student’s right to receive an education that’s free from discrimination.

Typically, private schools implement their own policies and procedures that address school safety. Most policies have some type of provisions that address anti-discrimination practices, as well as acts of verbal and physical abuse, sexual misconduct, harassment, bullying, and violence that occurs on school premises. If a child is injured by sexual misconduct, parents can file a personal injury lawsuit with a minor sexual assault lawyer against the school.

Elementary school children and high school teens are especially vulnerable to acts of sexual misconduct by teachers. While young students often don’t recognize predatory behaviors, teen students don’t speak up. They often report fearing judgment or retaliation from parents, peers, teachers, and school officials. Even if students do speak up, school officials sometimes fail to acknowledge accusations or dismiss acts of sexual assault perpetrated by teachers.

Private schools that ignore their standard of care duties to students and dismiss complaints of sexual assaults by students and/or parents may face negligence lawsuits and breach-of-contract-related litigation by minor sexual assault lawyers in civil court. Successful litigation can hold the teacher who perpetrated the sexual assault, as well as the school that protected him/her, financially liable for all damages.