(WIVB) – The New York State Attorney General’s Office is suing the Niagara Wheatfield School District for failing to respond to incidents of sexual assault and bullying following a 2019 investigation.
According to a press release from AG Letitia James’ office, the investigation found that the district deliberately ignored student complaints of rape, assault, sexual harassment, and gender-based bullying, and that the district took no action to protect the students who complained from their assailants and harassers, which led to multiple students dropping out.
The lawsuit accused the district of violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the state’s common law requiring schools to supervise students to protect them from harm.
Through the lawsuit, AG James is seeking to create and implement new procedures for the district to better address the handling of sexual assault.
This is OAG’s first lawsuit against a school district for the mishandling of accusations of sexual assault.
The investigation of the district started after reports of how the district did nothing in response to the rape of a female student by a fellow student in May 2018. The assailant pleaded guilty to third-degree rape but was allowed to remain in school and told he could attend prom and graduation before being expelled in May 2019, “but only in response to the nationwide public and media attention brought by a student walkout organized to protest the school’s inaction,” the AG’s Office alleges. “The school district also took no action against the students that bullied TG over her rape, but instead punished several students for participating in the walkout.”