The full panel of 15 appellate judges in Richmond has narrowly upheld a former northern Virginia high school student’s appeal to have her lawsuit against the school system reinstated after an alleged sexual assault on a band trip.
The narrow 9-6 decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday prompted a pair of rare, written dissents from two judges who say the decision vastly expands the liability that school systems face under Title IX, the law that bans sex discrimination in public education.
Dissenting judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote that reinstating the lawsuit “will only further contribute to the dramatic loss of control that states and localities are able to exercise over their own school systems.”
Judges dissent all the time when they hear cases, but it is rare to dissent on what’s called an en banc petition, in which the losing side on a ruling from a normal three-judge panel asks the entire circuit to take up the case.
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