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Moreno v. McAllen ISD, Dkt. No. 7:15-CV-162 (S.D. Tex. 2015).

Facts:  The mother of a student in the McAllen Independent School District filed suit claiming that a teacher had sexually abused her son on several occasions.  However, the student had not reported any of the alleged incidents until April 21, 2014, at which time the district launched its investigation.  The teacher eventually resigned, but criminal charges were hampered by the parent’s lack of cooperation into the investigation.  The parent filed suit against the district claiming constitutional violations, as well as violations of Title IX, which prohibits sexual harassment of students.  The school district sought dismissal of the suit.

Holding:  The trial court dismissed the suit against the school district.  To establish a constitutional violation against the district under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the parent had to establish a school district policy, custom or practice that led to the injuries.  In this case, the actions of one employee, without more, were insufficient to establish an unconstitutional policy, custom or practice.  There was also insufficient evidence to show that the district failed to adequately train, supervise or discipline the employee, in part, because it was unaware of the misconduct. Once the district became aware of the allegations, it promptly investigated the matter.  The Title IX claims likewise failed because the evidence did not show that the district knew of the alleged abuse or that it acted with deliberate indifference toward the student.  Judgment was rendered in favor of the district on all of the parent’s claims.


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