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Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified School District

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
324 F.3d 1130 (2003)


Facts

A group of students (plaintiffs) who were, or were perceived to be, lesbian, gay, or bisexual attended the Morgan Hill Unified School District (the district) (defendant) between 1991 and 1998. Two of the plaintiffs were assaulted by a group of students while the attacking students shouted anti-gay slurs. The incident was reported to Assistant Principal Maxine Bartschi (defendant), who only told the plaintiffs to report the incident to a campus police officer. Two of the plaintiffs were handed a pornographic image by a student and reported the incident to Principal Bob Davis (defendant). Davis only disciplined one student, even though several students were involved. The disciplined student bragged that his punishment was light, and the harassment continued. Davis did not take any further action. Two of the plaintiffs were harassed by a group of students and a campus monitor. The incident was reported to Assistant Principal Rick Gaston. Gaston did not take any steps to investigate or stop the harassment. One of the plaintiffs was beaten by six students, which caused the plaintiff to be hospitalized. The incident was reported to Principal Don Schaefer (defendant) and Assistant Principal Frank Nucci (defendant). Only one of the six students was disciplined. One of the plaintiffs found pornographic images and threatening notes in her locker. These messages were reported to Assistant Principal Delia Schizzano, who failed to take action other than telling the plaintiff not to bring her any other pornographic images. The district had a policy that prohibited harassment on the basis of sexual orientation. The training provided by the district on the policy was limited and did not cover harassment based on sexual orientation. The plaintiffs sued the district, school board members, Bartschi, Davis, Gaston, Schaefer, Nucci, and Schizzano under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The defendants appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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Holding and Reasoning (Schroeder, C.J.)

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