BOISE — Parents of a former student of Sage International School of Boise filed a civil lawsuit against the school this week, claiming the school failed to respond thoroughly to an alleged off-campus sexual assault that is claimed to have resulted in a hostile on-campus environment, according to court documents.
The two parents are suing the school after “deliberate indifference” to the reported sexual assault of their daughter by a fellow student, according to the suit. The lawsuit is demanding a jury trial. The filing parties have denied comment at this time on the lawsuit’s demands and reason for filing.
Sage International is a public K-12 charter school established in 2010. The school has one pending Title IX investigation that was opened in January 2017, according to the Department of Education. The complaint was filed on the basis of sexual violence.
In the lawsuit filed on Sept. 24, the parents claim the school violated Title IX policies and procedures by failing to investigate and respond appropriately to whether an off-campus sexual assault created a hostile schooling environment. Federally funded, the school is required to adhere to Title IX protocol to investigate whether an off-campus assault had an effect on the victim at school.
In a statement to the Idaho Press, Sage International School said it “denies any wrongdoing as alleged in the complaint. As a matter of policy, to protect the rights of all parties, we do not comment on any pending litigation, especially where the litigation involves allegations of student misconduct.”
According to court documents in Idaho District Court, the alleged off-campus sexual assault occurred between the two Sage International School students on Jan. 2 of this year. The male student is claimed to have “forcibly held her down” and groped the female student in his home.
Following the alleged assault, allegations stated that the male student verbally attacked the female in class and stalked her on campus during the school day.
On March 8, the alleged victim sought help from a school counselor who encouraged her to file a report of the Jan. 2 incident, which she did. School administrators reviewed prior text messages between the victim and perpetrator and confirmed the male student made “several physical sexual advances” toward the victim “despite her saying ‘NO’ numerous times.”
The parents then filed a criminal court complaint, according to documents, with prosecutors charging the male student with battery. The presiding judge issued an order of protection preventing the male student from coming within 20 feet of the female student.
The lawsuit claims that the school told the female student that she would have to transfer to avoid sharing classes with her assailant. The lawsuit claims school officials and school board members told the victim and the victim’s mother that because the sexual assault was off campus, the school’s sexual harassment policies did not need to be enforced.
Sage International School’s policy on sexual harassment says a student engages in “sexual harassment” when they make “unwelcome sexual advances” or other verbal or physical misconduct of sexual nature that has the effect of “interfering with the student’s educational environment,” “creating an intimidating or hostile, or offensive educational environment,” or depriving the student of educational resources.
According to the allegations made against the school, the school failed to enforce the protection order in common areas and when students were going to and from class.
On the morning of March 20, according to court documents, the male student violated the order of protection within the hallway of the school by approaching the female student at her newly assigned locker and following closely behind her as she walked to class. School administrators have refused to release the video regarding the incident to the court, documents said.
Court documents describe a letter correspondence after the violation, in which an attorney addressed the school about their failure to protect the female student from harassment. The letter said that she wished to continue school without “fear and anxiety being created by the male student’s emboldened disregard of the protection order, or disregard of his completely inappropriate behavior.”
According to the lawsuit, the school then promised to create a “passing protocol” to prevent further violations and would provide the written protocol in an email. The female student stayed home from school March 22 through March 26 waiting for such protocol to be sent. On March 26, the school supposedly emailed confirmation of the promised “passing protocol” to the alleged victim’s mother as well as restated they had no legal obligation to recognize the off-campus assault.
On March 28, the order of protection expired, however prosecutors continued the criminal investigation of battery. According to the lawsuit, the school continued to allow the male student to attend classes.
Following the expiration of the order of protection, the lawsuit claims the school’s counsel told the victim’s family the “passing protocol” would no longer be in place.
The lawsuit states the victim withdrew from Sage International School to avoid attending classes with the alleged assailant.