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MI court ruling could clear way for “hostile educational environment” lawsuits


Schools can be sued under Michigan’s civil rights law for failing to protect students from sexual harassment by other students. That decision comes from the Michigan Court of Appeals.

This is the first time the appeals court has ruled on a question like this. The case comes from Alpena County, where a parent accused the Alpena Public School District of failing to protect a girl from sexual harassment by another student.

The girl eventually transferred to a private school. The unanimous ruling from a three-judge appeals court panel reversed a finding by the lower court and, instead, held that schools can be held liable for allowing a
“hostile education environment.”

But, on a separate question, the appeals court did uphold a ruling that dismissed the case on other grounds. The decision can be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

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