Student justice: Teen wins $9 million, after school mishandles affair with teacher

(thinkstock photos)(thinkstock photos)A teenage girl sued her school and won $9.2 million dollars today. In a precedent setting case, a Texas jury has demanded the Episcopal School of Dallas pay a former student millions in damages after she was asked to leave the institution, when officials discovered she was having an affair with her teacher.

Her teacher was 34 and she was 16, so 'abuse', rather than 'affair', may better describe what took place. Based on thousands of sexually explicit texts and emails, the lawsuit claimed the married teacher had sex with the student in hotels and engaged in "inappropriate behavior with the victim on school property, and in his office during and after school hours."

The teacher, who resigned, is being charged with sexual assault of a minor. But according to her parents, their daughter wasn't exactly treated like a victim by her school.
Her attorney claimed she was given an ultimatum: leave the school or be expelled. If she didn't leave, the lawsuit alleges, her permanent record would hinder her from college opportunities. She eventually did transfer to another school, despite the fact that she wanted to graduate with the class she'd been a part of since kindergarten.

School officials maintain they took appropriate action and didn't force the student out. They plan to appeal the court's decision.

It's not the first student teacher affair and certainly not the first time school officials have mishandled such a situation. Earlier this year, a Bay City student filed a $1 million lawsuit against his school district claiming they failed to do a proper investigation of his non-consensual relationship with his female teacher. So what is the proper protocol for school officials when a teacher's sexual misconduct comes to light and how much more damage can a school do to a victim if they handle it in the wrong way? Based on the Texas Jury's decision, the damage is significant enough to warrant millions. Maybe this case will provide more protection for students, or at the very least, force administrators to remember who the real victims are.

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