News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Supreme Court Lets Stand Sex-Discrimination Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to revive a sex-discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of three middle school girls who were repeatedly molested by their physical education teacher.

The girls' families sued the DeKalb County, Ga., school district, as well as a school principal and the teacher, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds. The plaintiffs argued that the principal had failed to properly respond to complaints that the teacher inappropriately touched another female student during a touch-football game.

A federal jury found the teacher civilly liable for the sexual assaults. But a federal district judge ruled that the 95,000-student district and the principal could not be held responsible for the teacher's actions. The teacher was also convicted of criminal charges stemming from the assaults, which occurred in the 1993-94 school year.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, unanimously agreed last year that the district and the principal were not liable under Title IX. The court said the touch-football complaint "could not, as a matter of law, apprise defendants to the possibility" that the teacher was sexually molesting other students.

The Supreme Court on June 4 declined without comment to hear the families' appeal in Davis v. DeKalb County School District (Case No. 00-1524).

—Mark Walsh

Student-Loan Interest Rate Lowest Ever

The Department of Education announced last week that interest rates on federal student loans will drop to the lowest level in history.

Beginning July 1, the rate will drop from 8.19 percent to 5.99 percent. Students begin paying off their loans six months after leaving school and usually have 10 years to pay them off. The lower rate applies to loans first distributed on or after July 1, 1998. The federal government estimates the new rate will save students with 10-year repayment plans about $136 for every $1,000 they owe.

The rate for the Federal Family Education Loan, which allows parents to borrow in their own names for a child, will drop to 6.79 percent, from 8.99 percent.

—John Gehring

Vol. 20, Issue 40, Page 24

Published in Print: June 13, 2001, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
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