Settlement Fact Sheet: Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified School District
Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified School District
Settlement Fact Sheet
In 1998, six students sued the Morgan Hill Unified School District in Morgan Hill, California, charging that school district employees repeatedly ignored or minimized reports by students that they were being abused by others who thought they were gay. In their lawsuit, the students sought to obtain improved training for district personnel and students, and damages. Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified School District settled on January 6, 2004. This fact sheet outlines the terms of the settlement, which includes a comprehensive training program for administrators, staff, and students to combat anti-gay harassment. To learn more about the lawsuit's history and the environment in the Morgan Hill district that led up to it, see the case backgrounder at /node/20535. For a copy of the Agreement on Training Program and Policy Changes, go to /LesbianGayRights/LesbianGayRights.cfm?ID=14657&c=106.
Staff Training Program
Starting this school year and going through the 2006-2007 school year, training will be mandatory for all administrators, teachers, counselors, and all other employees who monitor student behavior, including campus monitors, bus drivers, and school custodians. Trainings will focus on harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and will include:
- small-group discussions and exercises on how to address anti-gay harassment
- a panel presentation by students who can talk about their own experiences witnessing or dealing with anti-gay harassment in schools
- discussion of district policies and state and federal laws regarding anti-gay harassment
- the legal obligations of district employees, and
- community resources to aid victims of harassment and discrimination.
Follow-up trainings will include discussion of the climate at district schools, how staff has handled incidents of anti-gay harassment in the past, and developing strategies for preventing future incidents.
Administrators will receive further training on how to provide guidance to other staff and employees about handling anti-gay harassment. School safety, including the issue of anti-gay harassment, will be discussed at each school's bi-monthly staff meeting. Each semester, staff will review all district policies and procedures on the reporting and prevention of and responses to incidents of anti-gay harassment.
Student Training Program
Starting with the 2004-2005 school year, the district will provide a mandatory peer-to-peer training session on preventing anti-gay harassment to all ninth grade students. All seventh graders will attend a training session that focuses exclusively on the subject of preventing anti-gay harassment. The student trainings will include a review of school policies, including disciplinary policies, prohibiting anti-gay harassment. Student training on these issues will continue through the 2007-2008 school year.
District policies and student handbooks will be revised so that they expressly state that harassment and discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity is expressly prohibited under district policies and state law. Anti-gay harassment will be treated as a separate category of prohibited conduct, not as a subset of sexual harassment. The district will clearly explain the complaint procedures for reporting such harassment, how investigations of such allegations are to be handled by the district, and what district resources and remedies are available for victims of such harassment.
Students who experience or witness anti-gay harassment can report it to any district employee, who must immediately report it to a designated staff member who will be responsible for investigating and responding to all incidents of anti-gay harassment.
The district will keep written records of any complaints made to the school about anti-gay harassment or discrimination. An incident report must be completed no later than 15 school days after the complaint is first made.
- District staff must respond promptly and appropriately whenever the district receives complaints of anti-gay harassment.
- District staff will not engage in or allow harassing conduct.
- District staff will not retaliate against any student or employee for making allegations or filing complaints concerning harassment.
- District staff will not coerce students to enroll in alternative education or independent study programs because they have complained of harassment.
The settlement agreement is effective as of January 6, 2004 and will remain in effect until June 30, 2008, or 60 calendar days after the last report required by the settlement is received, whichever date is later. In addition to policy changes and training, the district will pay substantial damages to the plaintiffs.
The agreement may be extended for an additional two years by order of the Court if the Court finds that the district isn't in compliance with the terms. The district will submit a detailed written report on how the trainings and policy changes are progressing, including statistics on incident reports, to the plaintiff's attorneys every year in June throughout the course of the settlement agreement.