911 F.2d 617 (11th Cir. 1990), 89-8393, Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools

Docket Nº:89-8393.
Citation:911 F.2d 617
Party Name:Christine FRANKLIN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. The GWINNETT COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, a Local Education Agency (LEA), Dr. William Prescott, An Individual, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:September 10, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 617

911 F.2d 617 (11th Cir. 1990)

Christine FRANKLIN, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

The GWINNETT COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, a Local Education Agency

(LEA), Dr. William Prescott, An Individual,

Defendants-Appellees.

No. 89-8393.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

September 10, 1990

Page 618

Michael Weinstock, Stephen M. Katz, Weinstock & Scavo, P.C., Atlanta, Ga., for plaintiff-appellant.

E. Freeman Leverett, Heard, Leverett & Phelps, Elberton, Ga., for amicus, Georgia School Boards Assoc., Inc.

Frank C. Bedinger, III, Alan R. Heath, Freeman & Hawkins, Atlanta, Ga., for Gwinnett County Public Schools and Dr. William Prescott.

Walt M. Britt, Pruitt & Britt, Buford, Ga., Arnold Wright, Jr., Atlanta, Ga., for Dr. William Prescott.

Victoria Sweeny, Tennant, Davidson, Thompson & Sweeny, P.C., Lawrenceville, Ga., for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

David R. Boyd, J. Dorman Walker, Jr., Balch & Bingham, Montgomery, Ala., for amicus Alabama Ass'n of School Boards.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Before JOHNSON, Circuit Judge, HILL [*] and HENLEY [**], Senior Circuit Judges.

HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge:

Christine Franklin appeals from the district court's 1 dismissal of her action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. 2 We affirm.

Franklin brought the action under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (codified as amended at 20 U.S.C. Secs. 1681-1688 (1988)) ("Title IX"), seeking damages against Gwinnett County Public Schools ("Gwinnett"), and Dr. William Prescott, contending that she had been intentionally discriminated against because of her gender. Gwinnett filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, inter alia, that compensatory relief is unavailable for violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

According to her complaint, Franklin attended North Gwinnett High School, Gwinnett County Public School District, in the State of Georgia. In September of 1986, Coach Andrew Hill, Franklin's economics teacher, became friends with her. Indications of this friendship included Franklin being allowed to grade class papers, private meetings between her and Hill during and between classes, notes written by Hill authorizing her late admittance to other classes, and private visits by her and Hill to Hill's office, which was separated from the main school building.

According to the complaint, during this period of time Hill initiated with Franklin discussions of a sexual nature. Dr. William Prescott, band director at the school, was told by Douglas Kreeft, Franklin's boyfriend, about these discussions. Franklin was excused from several classes at the request of Hill. At one point after an argument in the school parking lot, Hill grabbed Franklin and kissed her. In October of 1987, an assistant principal was told by other students of "involvement" between Hill and Franklin. The student was "admonished." During this period of time, certain female students indicated to teachers and a guidance counsellor at the school that Hill was directing sexual remarks at other female students as well.

Ultimately, according to the complaint, Hill and Franklin engaged in two or three episodes of sexual intercourse on school grounds between October and December of 1987. On February 29, 1988, the school's principal was informed of the alleged sexual activity between Hill and Franklin.

Franklin alleged that after she reported the above circumstances to school authorities Prescott tried to discourage her from pursuing the matter by talking to her about the negative publicity which could

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result. Prescott also spoke to Kreeft in an effort to enlist his assistance to discourage Franklin from pursuing the matter. Sometime between March 2 and March 14, 1988, Gwinnett began an investigation. At the termination of the 1987-88 school year, Hill resigned and Prescott retired. At this point, Gwinnett closed its investigation.

In August of 1988, Franklin filed a complaint against Gwinnett with the Office of Civil Rights ("OCR"), United States Department of Education, alleging that she had been subjected to sexual discrimination in violation of Title IX. 3 Following a six-month investigation, OCR found Gwinnett in violation of Title IX. 4 However in a December 14, 1988 letter signed by its regional director and addressed to Franklin's counsel OCR stated that due to assurances of affirmative actions designed to prevent any future violations it considered Gwinnett as of that date in compliance with Title IX. Therefore, the OCR investigation was closed.

In the context of a motion to dismiss, we accept as true facts alleged in a complaint and construe them in a light favorable to the plaintiff. E.G., Quality Foods de Centro Am., S.A. v. Latin Am. Agribusiness Dev. Corp., 711 F.2d 989, 994-95 (11th Cir.1983). The parties agree and cases have held that Title VI of Civil Rights Act of 1964 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. Secs. 2000d to d-4 (1988)) ("Title VI"), 5 served as the legislative antecedent for Title IX, 6 and that consequently, the jurisprudential analysis of the Justices' opinions in Guardians Association v. Civil Service Commission, 463 U.S. 582, 103 S.Ct. 3221, 77 L.Ed.2d 866 (1983), which construed Title VI (and upon which both parties rely), as well as the analysis of other Title VI cases, is applicable in a Title IX context. See Cannon v. University of Chicago, 441 U.S. 677, 99 S.Ct. 1946, 60 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).

Title IX was patterned after Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Except for the substitution of the word "sex" in Title IX to replace the words "race, color, or national origin" in Title VI, the two statutes use identical language to describe the benefitted class. Both statutes provide the same administrative mechanism for terminating federal financial support for institutions engaged in prohibited discrimination.

Id. at 694-96, 99 S.Ct. at 1956-57. Hereinafter we discuss Title VI and Title IX cases somewhat interchangeably, because we believe it is settled that analysis of the two statutes is substantially the same.

For purposes of this case, it is undisputed that an implied private right of action exists under Title IX. See Cannon, 441 U.S. 677, 99 S.Ct. 1946. However, it is clear that the question "whether a litigant has a 'cause of action' is analytically distinct and prior to the question of what relief, if any, a litigant may be entitled to receive." Davis v. Passman, 442 U.S. 228, 239, 99 S.Ct. 2264, 2274, 60 L.Ed.2d 846 (1979). Consequently, the existence of a cause of action by no means assures a right to an unlimited array of remedies.

In Drayden v. Needville Indep. School Dist., 642 F.2d 129 (5th Cir.Unit A April 1981), discharged black teachers filed suit

Page 620

under Title VI and other civil rights statutes alleging civil rights violations against a school district for which they had worked, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and damages. In affirming the dismissal of the action, the court held that the "private right of action allowed under Title VI encompasses no more than an attempt to have any discriminatory activity ceased." Id. at 133 (emphasis added); see also Lieberman v. University of Chicago, 660 F.2d 1185, 1188 (7th Cir.1981) (affirming summary judgment against plaintiff who sought damages under Title IX for discriminatory medical school admissions policies, noting that it is for Congress, not the courts, to create a right to damages), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 937, 102 S.Ct. 1993, 72 L.Ed.2d 456 (1982).

Since decisions of the former Fifth Circuit rendered prior to October 1, 1981 represent binding precedent for this court, Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1207 (11th Cir.1981) (en banc), we find it clear that Drayden constituted this circuit's view on the matter of compensatory damages under Titles VI and IX prior to Guardians Association, a case to which we now turn.

In Guardians Association, petitioners black and Hispanic police officers of the City of New York, brought a class action lawsuit against the Civil Service Commission alleging their layoffs constituted civil rights violations under, inter alia, Title VI. The district court awarded constructive seniority, with monetary and nonmonetary entitlements, and certain other relief. The court of appeals reversed on the issue of damages, holding that intentional discrimination--which had not been found by the trial court--was required for relief under Title VI.

A fragmented Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals. A fair reading of the various opinions discloses that a majority of Justices agreed that discriminatory intent is not a prerequisite to relief under Title VI, see Guardians Association, 463 U.S. at 584 & n. 2, 103 S.Ct. at 3223 & n. 2 (opinion of White, J.), but that "at least five justices would not allow compensatory relief to a private plaintiff under Title VI absent proof of discriminatory intent." Manecke v. School Bd. of Pinellas County, Fla., 762 F.2d 912, 922 n. 8 (11th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1062, 106 S.Ct. 809, 88 L.Ed.2d 784 (1986).

At the outset, we concede some difficulty in application of Guardians Association to the instant dispute, given the various opinions therein. In this regard, we note the comments of Justice Powell that the Court's several "opinions [in Guardians Association] ... will further confuse rather than guide." 463 U.S. at 608, 103 S.Ct. at 3235. And though Guardians Association has been described as "a badly fragmented decision," see id., we nevertheless have looked to it for guidance.

In announcing the judgment of the...

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