friend-of-the-court brief in Supreme Court

Donna Lenhoff (
Wed, 04 Nov 1998 14:57:23 -0500

As you are probably already aware, the Supreme Court has agreed to
hear its first case involving peer sexual harassment -- Davis v. Monroe
Cty. Bd. of Ed. We at the National Partnership for Women & Families are
drafting an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief on behalf of sexual
harassment experts in this case, and are looking for experts in the area
who'd be willing to sign on to that brief, to make the following main

1) Schools have the institutional capacity to respond appropriately, since
schools discipline regularly as part of their mandate.

2) Schools have an arsenal of potential responses: once notified, can
investigate, then discipline if harassment is found; can counsel, warn,
transfer, suspend, expel, depending on whether harassing behavior
stops; can have policies in place and train staff; can separate harassing
and harassed student. In analogous context of Title VII law, duty to
respond=duty to investigate and discipline. Although schools are
required to have grievance procedures and policies against sex
discrimination, they retain considerable flexibility to decide the content of
those procedures and policies, as long as the school responds
effectively to sexual harassment complaints.

3) These responses don't subject schools to liability.

4) Sexual harassment causes devastating educational harm; remedying it
has educational benefits.

This is, unfortunately, on a very fast time deadline; the brief is due next
Tuesday (11/10). If you might be interested in signing on, we'll have a
final draft ready for you to review on Thursday/Friday this week. Please
let me know if you'd like to participate, or if you have questions. What's
involved in signing on is lending us your name and drafting a brief (2-3
sentence) statement of interest explaining your background and
research in this area.

We'd also love to have your comments, additions, and questions on
the above outline of what the brief will say. And please feel free to pass
this message on to other potential signers-on!


--Donna Lenhoff
General Counsel, National Partnership for Women & Families
Washington, DC

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