Spring 2015

Title IX Sexual Harassment

Former student Adrian Salazar filed suit against South San Antonio ISD and its former employee, Michael Alcoser, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and Title IX, as well as several common law tort claims, arising from the alleged sexual abuse of Salazar by Alcoser.  On a motion to dismiss, the Court dismissed every claim except the Title IX claim against the District.

Prior to trial, the parties stipulated that: Alcoser abused Salazar while Alcoser was the vice principal and principal of two elementary schools in the district; no one with the district other than Alcoser had knowledge of Alcoser’s abusive conduct; and Alcoser’s abusive conduct violated the District’s policies.  Based on these stipulations, the district moved for judgment as a matter of law on the ground that it lacked “actual notice” of the alleged abuse.  Previous Supreme Court precedent established that a district could be held liable for monetary damages under Title IX only if “an official who at a minimum has authority to address the alleged discrimination and to institute corrective measures on the recipient’s behalf has actual knowledge of discrimination in the recipient’s programs and fails to adequately respond.”

The district court denied South San Antonio ISD’s motion, and the case proceeded to trial.  After a two-day trial, the jury found the district liable for damages under Title IX, and awarded Salazar $4.5 million in compensatory damages.  The district has appealed the district court’s judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  Salazar v. South San Antonio Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 5:13-cv-00940 (U.S. Dist. Court for the Western District of Texas).  LAF’s Attorney:  Lisa Brown, Thompson & Horton, L.L.P., Houston.