Kagan Denies Student’s Request to Block Suspension Over Sexual Assault Claim

The 15-year-old was suspended under the Title IX emergency removal provision after his ex-girlfriend claimed he sexually assaulted her.

Kagan Denies Student’s Request to Block Suspension Over Sexual Assault Claim

(Photo: eqroy/stock.adobe.com)

SAN RAMON VALLEY, Calif. — A California high school student’s bid to overturn his indefinite removal following a sexual harassment investigation has been denied by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District indefinitely suspended student John Doe in April under the Title IX “emergency removal” provision after a female student alleged he sexually assaulted her on campus, reports EdWeek.

Under the provision, schools have the ability to suspend a student after it determines they pose an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from allegations of sexual harassment.

Doe, a 15-year-old freshman, denies allegations that he inappropriately kissed and groped his ex-girlfriend, identified as Jane Roe in court documents, after class last April. According to Doe, he had broken up with her just days prior but text messages show Roe wanted to continue their relationship. He claims the allegations were made after the breakup.

Doe also alleges school officials did not have evidence to support an emergency removal. California High School Principal Megan Keefer, who is also the school’s Title IX coordinator, upheld the decision in May and indicated the order would remain in place for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Doe’s original stay was denied by a Superior Court judge and state appellate court, and the California Supreme Court declined to take on the case.

Subsequently, Doe applied for a stay to Kagan, the circuit justice for the federal 9th Circuit. In court documents, Doe claims his emergency removal violates precedents set forth under the 1975 U.S. Supreme Court Decision, Goss v. Lopez, in which the court held that students subject to suspensions of 10 days or less must be given minimal due-process protections and longer suspensions must require even greater due process.

The stay alleges the school’s decision has led to “irreparable loss of the benefits and experience of high school.” It also claims without some form of speedy court review, administrators could impose an emergency removal any time an allegation of sexual harassment is made, even without an actual threat to another student.

“Rather than an indefinite suspension under the guise of emergency removal, the district can simply have [Doe] avoid contact with Jane Roe and make sure they are not assigned to the same classes,” the filing suggests. Doe was given the choice to enroll in its Virtual Academy or another independent study program for the fall.

School district officials argued a judicial stay was unwarranted because the emergency removal order was a temporary decision pending a full investigation.

“The district was not required to follow any specific process in the emergency removal so long as it made an individualized safety and risk analysis,” the district said. “[Doe] will not be prejudiced in continuing in virtual instruction during the pendency of the Title IX investigation pursuant to the emergency removal.”

Kagan denied Doe’s application on Sept. 3.

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