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Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District

524 U.S. 274 (1998)

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Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District

United States Supreme Court

524 U.S. 274 (1998)

Facts

Frank Waldrop, a teacher at a high school in the Lagos Vista Independent School District (the school district) (defendant), made sexual comments about an eighth-grade student, Alida Gebser (plaintiff), during class. Waldrop and Gebser thereafter carried on a sexual relationship for over a year. Gebser did not report the relationship because she did not know how to react and wanted to keep having Waldrop as a teacher. The parents of students complained to the principal about the sexual comments in class, but the principal merely held a meeting with Waldrop during which Waldrop denied wrongdoing and promised to be more careful in his conversations with students. The principal did not report the complaint to the superintendent, and the school district did not have an antiharassment policy or a mechanism to report complaints. Waldrop and Gebser’s sexual relationship continued until they were caught by a police officer, and Gebser was arrested. The school district fired Waldrop, and Waldrop’s teaching license was revoked. Gebser and her mother sued the school district for damages under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The district court dismissed the claims because there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the school district had constructive notice of the sexual abuse. The court of appeals affirmed, and the Gebsers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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