JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES MOTION TO INTERVENE IN TITLE IX SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE AGAINST RHINEBECK CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Justice Department today announced that it has
moved to intervene in a sexual harassment case involving allegations that a
former New York high school principal sexually harassed former students and a
school employee. The motion to intervene and proposed complaint were filed
today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The complaint alleges that the Rhinebeck Central School District violated
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The Justice Department seeks to
intervene the May 2003 lawsuit, AB et al v. Rhinebeck Central School
District and Thomas Mawhinney, filed by four current and former high
school students and a school employee.
No student should have to endure sexual harassment while trying to obtain an
education, said Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta. Our effort
to intervene in this case demonstrates that the Department of Justice will not
hesitate to enforce the law when we find evidence of unlawful sex
discrimination in our nation’s schools.
The complaint alleges that Mawhinney sexually harassed the four plaintiff
students as well as other female high school students during his 10 year
tenure as principal and that the school district violated Title IX by acting
with deliberate indifference to known sexual harassment of students.
Specifically, the government alleged that Mawhinney created a hostile
educational environment for female students, that the school district had
actual notice of Mawhinney’s sexual harassment of female students, and that
the district did not take adequate corrective steps to address the problem.
If permitted to intervene, the Department will seek to prohibit school
district officials and employees from all unlawful discrimination against
school-age children on the basis of sex. The Justice Department also seeks to
have the district ordered to develop and timely implement a comprehensive plan
that will ensure a discrimination-free educational environment for all its
Enforcement of federal education discrimination laws is a priority of the
Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Educational
Opportunities Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division can be
found at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/crt-home.html.