Sunday, November 20, 2011

New York State Court of Appeals to Decide Tompkins County School Harassment Case

From the Ithaca Journal:
ALBANY -- The state's highest court has agreed to hear the Ithaca City School District's appeal of a finding that it failed to adequately address racial harassment and threats of violence against a black middle-school student....

The state Division of Human Rights decided in May 2009 that the school district engaged in unlawful discriminatory practice by failing to protect the girl from a group of white students' harassment and threats in the 2005-06 school year....

Ithaca City schools have maintained that the Division of Human Rights does not have jurisdiction over public school districts. The state Supreme Court in Tompkins County agreed with the district in a 2009 decision.

The state Appellate Division, 3rd Department disagreed in a June 30, 2011, ruling. It reduced awards of $200,000 each for the mother and daughter to $200,000 for the daughter and $50,000 for Amelia Kearney.

But Ithaca City schools point to a case on Long Island that was dismissed by the mid-level state court, which said school districts don't come under the state human-rights law, which applies to education corporations and associations.

It has been reported that fewer than one out of ten applications for leave to appeal are granted.

The existence of conflicting rulings among the Appellate Divisions, as is apparently the case here, is one of the factors that will sometimes convince the state's high court to hear an appeal.