Case: Department of Education investigation of Township High School District 211 (Palatine, IL)

14-01055 | No Court

Filed Date: Dec. 5, 2013

Closed Date: June 30, 2017

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 2014, a transgender high school student filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against Township High School District 211, in Palatine, Illinois. Represented by the ACLU of Illinois, the plaintiff asked for an order allowing her to use the girls' locker rooms, claiming that not allowing her to do so constituted discrimination on the basis of sex. Specifically, the complainant claimed that she was forced to change in restrooms that lack…

In 2014, a transgender high school student filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against Township High School District 211, in Palatine, Illinois. Represented by the ACLU of Illinois, the plaintiff asked for an order allowing her to use the girls' locker rooms, claiming that not allowing her to do so constituted discrimination on the basis of sex. Specifically, the complainant claimed that she was forced to change in restrooms that lacked equal facilities, was reprimanded after entering girls' locker rooms where no one was changing in order to take advantage of the better facilities, and that her arrangement differentiated her from other female students and gave students a reason to treat her differently.

On July 13, 2015, OCR notified the school district of its decision that the school district's treatment of the complainant constituted sex discrimination in violation of Title IX; the parties began negotiating an agreement. Attempts to resolve the resolution voluntarily ultimately failed and the parties were at an impasse.

On November 2, 2015, OCR released a letter of findings detailing its findings about the district's Title IX violation and declaring that if an agreement was not reached within thirty days, it would issue a letter of impending enforcement action, potentially suspending the district's federal funding or referring the case to the Department of Justice.

Under this strong pressure, the school district agreed to a settlement on December 3, 2015. The resolution agreement included the following commitments by the district:

  • Provide the student with access to the girls' locker rooms at her high school based on the student's request to change in private changing stations in the girls' locker rooms.

  • Protect the privacy of its students by installing sufficient privacy curtains within the girls' locker rooms at the high school to accommodate the transgender student and any students who wish to be assured of privacy.

  • Provide a reasonable alternative for any student requesting additional privacy.

According to the agreement, the parties anticipated closing the monitoring of this Agreement by June 30, 2017.

In May 2016, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice published a Dear Colleague Letter finding that discrimination against transgender students violates Title IX. Citing this case, the letter stated that schools must allow students to use locker rooms and bathrooms consistent with their gender identity and may not require transgender students to use separate, individual facilities. However, schools may make individual facilities available to students who seek additional privacy. In February 2017, the Trump Administration withdrew the 2016 guidance, asserting instead that states and local school districts should be responsible for determining educational policies related to transgender students.

As previously agreed, the OCR closed its monitoring of this voluntary resolution agreement on June 30, 2017.

Summary Authors

Katherine Reineck (11/15/2015)

Hope Brinn (10/30/2018)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Knight, John A. (Illinois)

Rapport, Adele (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Smith, Jennifer A (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Knight, John A. (Illinois)

Rapport, Adele (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Smith, Jennifer A (Illinois)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Discrimination Complaint of [student] Against [high school]

OCR Palatine investigation

Dec. 5, 2013

Dec. 5, 2013

Complaint

14-01055

Letter of Findings

Department of Education investigation of Township High School District 211

Nov. 2, 2015

Nov. 2, 2015

Findings Letter/Report

14-01055

AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE Between Township High School District 211 and the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights

Department of Education OCR investigation of (Palatine) Township High School District 211

Dec. 2, 2015

Dec. 2, 2015

Settlement Agreement

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Illinois

Case Type(s):

Education

Key Dates

Filing Date: Dec. 5, 2013

Closing Date: June 30, 2017

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A transgender high school student who was denied access to girls' locker rooms

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Township High School District 211 (Palatine, Cook), School District

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Order Duration: 2015 - 2017

Content of Injunction:

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Discrimination Prohibition

Monitoring

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Required disclosure

Student assignment

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students

Assault/abuse by staff

Failure to supervise

Failure to train

Gay/lesbian/transgender

Discrimination-basis:

Gender identity

Sex discrimination

Affected Gender:

Female

Type of Facility:

Government-run