“Fantasy Slut League” at High School in California

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Explore:  OCR

[author: Cynthia Augello]

An investigation at Piedmont High School in California revealed the presence of a “fantasy slut league” among male students at the high school.

After discovering the existence of the “league”, Piedmont High School Principal Rich Kitchens sent an official letter to parents at the high school informing them of the practice. Kitchens’ letter informed parents that “their teenage daughters could’ve been involuntarily ‘drafted’ in what was described as a ‘fantasy slut league.’” [1]. The league, which existed for “five or six years,” [2] consisted of allotting points to male students who engaged in sexual activity with females targeted in the “league”. The females, however, were not aware of their participation in the “league”. The school sent the official letter to parents because, the school “wanted to make sure that parents were aware of things that were going on in their kids’ lives”. [3].

The existence of the game was revealed at a school assembly concerning date rape. After students and parents were interviewed, administrators concluded that this fantasy league was present. While Piedmont Unified School District Superintendent Connie Hubbard believes that the story is being “sensationalized” by the media, she notes that “‘[w]e will not let this deter us’”. [4] School Board President Rick Raushen bush explained on Wednesday, October 24th that “the district had ‘brought an end’ to the conduct and would address the issues that led to it.” [5].
The existence of this league raises the question of whether the game is a form of gossip or an early form of rape. In a recent report, a female student is reported as stating:

 ‘I know that my name has been mentioned on the FSL page…It makes me uncomfortable, but it does not make me a ‘victim,’ as the email labels me. I am not a victim because I know what FSL truly is. It is not a rape group, as the email, perhaps inadvertently, implies; it is a gossip page…’[6]

The schools must act once they know of these problems. The determination of a school’s liability depends on the school’s degree of negligence. In the context of education law, courts will consider each of the elements of negligence in determining a school’s liability. These considerations include:

  • “Did the school have a duty to protect the student?;
  • What was the “reasonable standard of care” to apply under the circumstances, and did the school apply that reasonable standard of care?
  • If there was a breach of that reasonable care standard, was it a significant factor in causing the student’s injury?;
  • Did the victim contribute to the injury through his or her own negligence?
  • Was there an actual injury that can be substantiated?”[7]

In the sexual harassment context, a school that is aware of a problem must promptly investigate the situation. According to Title IX Guidelines:

Once a school has notice of possible sexual harassment of students . . . it should take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred and take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end any harassment, eliminate a hostile environment if one has been created, and prevent harassment from occurring again.

Herndon v. College of the Mainland, citing OCR Title IX Guidelines at 15. [8]. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing Title IX. The OCR provides a number of elements that are considered in determining whether a school has taken appropriate steps to investigate the problem. These steps include:

  • Notice to students, parents of elementary and secondary students, and employees of the procedure, including where complaints may be filed;
  • Application of the procedure to complaints alleging harassment carried out by employees, other students, or third parties;
  • Adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of complaints, including the opportunity to present witnesses and other evidence;
  • Designated and reasonably prompt time frames for the major stages of the complaint process;
  • Notice to the parties of the outcome of the complaint; and
  • An assurance that the school will take steps to prevent recurrence of any harassment and to correct its discriminatory effects on the complainant and others, if appropriate.

If your institution has any further questions or concerns about date-rape awareness in schools, or education law related matters, please email Cynthia Augello at caugello@cullenanddykman.com or call her at (516) 357-3753.

A special thanks to Laura DeLuca, a law clerk at Cullen and Dykman LLP, for help with this post.

[1] “School parents are told their daughters could be in ‘slut league’”, http://now.msn.com/fantasy-slut-league-exists-at-california-high-school, October 26, 2012.

[2] “Superintendent of Calif. School says sex fantasy league sensationalized”, Associated Press, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/10/25/superintendent-calif-school-says-sex-fantasy-league-sensationalized/, October 25, 2012.

[3] “School parents are told their daughters could be in ‘slut league’”, http://now.msn.com/fantasy-slut-league-exists-at-california-high-school, October 26, 2012.

[4] “Superintendent of Calif.School says sex fantasy league sensationalized”, Associated Press, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/10/25/superintendent-calif-school-says-sex-fantasy-league-sensationalized/, October 25, 2012.

[5] “Superintendent of Calif. School says sex fantasy league sensationalized”, Associated Press, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/10/25/superintendent-calif-school-says-sex-fantasy-league-sensationalized/, October 25, 2012.

[6] ‘Fantasy Slut League’ discovered at California high school,” Arturo Garcia, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/10/23/fantasy-slut-league-discovered-at-california-high-school/, October 26, 2012.

[7] “Understanding Liability in School Cases”, Edward F. Dragan, Ed.D., http://www.edmgt.com/pdfs/publications/0067.pdf, November 7, 2012.

[8] Herndon v. College of the Mainland, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12425 at *28 (S.D. Tex. Feb.13, 2009), citing OCR Title IX Guidelines at 15

[9] U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (2001) Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties, at p. 20, www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/shguide.pdf, November 7,  2012.

 

Topics:  OCR

Published In: Administrative Agency Updates, Civil Rights Updates, Education Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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