The Lansing School District is accused in a lawsuit of not creating a safe environment for a high school student after assigning her to the homeroom of a teacher who'd been disciplined for making sexual comments about her.
The lawsuit lays out several accusations, one being the school has been in violation of Title IX. The allegations include things the teacher said to the student while she was in his class.
While the school district and lawyer for the family have declined to comment, the lawsuit spells out a complex situation. It says, starting in September 2017, Lansing High School chemistry teacher Jacob Baker began making sexual comments to the student.
The lawsuit said that, while the student was having a conversation with a male friend and joking about him becoming pregnant, Baker injected himself into the conversation to declare that he "wasn't betting on [Plaintiff's male friend] to be the one getting pregnant this year."
Two months later, while the student was bouncing on a yoga ball, the lawsuit said that Baker said, "You're a little too good at that." That led to other male students making sexual jokes to the student.
Things escalated again in a conversation in class where Baker asked the student about her ex-boyfriend and then commented if she dated her ex-boyfriend even though she did not like him, her ex-boyfriend “must have been good at laying the pipe.”
At this point, the student brought the issue to her mother.
When the student’s mother approached the school about the incident, they removed her from the class, and during the investigation, Baker admitted to making the comments.
In response, Baker was placed on paid suspension on Dec. 8, two days before school let out for holiday break but was back in the classroom when classes resumed Jan. 4.
This isn’t where things ended though. Just two weeks ago, the student says she found out she had been assigned to Baker’s homeroom for the new school year, despite the complaints of sexual harassment.
While she was moved out after it was brought to the school’s attention, she and her mother say the problem is much bigger than that. They claim she is not the only student who has been harassed by him, saying that there are at least four other female students to have dealt with sexual harassment from the teacher in question, and that the school didn’t do enough to protect or help her moving forward.
The lawsuit said, in part, that the school "wholly failed to ensure that Plaintiff is in a learning environment free from intimidation, harassment, humiliation, gender bias, and other discriminatory and bullying behaviors and failed to prevent and remedy the sex discrimination/harassment."
Officials with the school district and lawyers for the family declined to comment on the matter.
When it comes to sexual harassment at schools, the stance of local advocacy groups is clear.
"Nobody’s experience with sexual harassment or violence should hinder their access to education," said Victoria Pickering with MOCSA.
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