JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES MOTION TO INTERVENE IN TITLE IX SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE AGAINST RHINEBECK CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

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

students.

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.