Mosley Discrimination Suit Settled

Lawyers representing Mosley's estate and AISD agreed to a settlement just days before district was scheduled to defend itself in sex discrimination suit

Lawyers representing the estate of 15-year-old Ortralla Mosley and AISD agreed to a settlement late last week, just days before the district was scheduled to defend itself in a sex-discrimination suit in federal district court. Ex-boyfriend Marcus McTear murdered Mosley on March 28, 2003, in a hallway at Reagan High School, one day after Mosley ended their six-month relationship. The suit was filed in December 2003, alleging that AISD violated Mosley's rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX addresses gender discrimination; it has generally been used to ensure equal funding for women's athletics programs, but, after a 1999, 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, has recently been applied to cases of in-school student-on-student harassment. In a case out of Georgia, the high court ruled that a school district could face financial liability under Title IX if they acted with "deliberate indifference" to "known" acts of sexual harassment. Ortralla's mother, Carolyn Mosley argued that AISD employees knew that McTear had a history of trouble with at least one other girlfriend and that Reagan High officials were not only aware of his troubled past but were also aware that he had made threats to hurt Mosley prior to her death, yet failed to protect Ortralla from harm.

Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel canceled the trial, scheduled to start Feb. 6, pending a final agreement on the undisclosed terms of the settlement. Carolyn Mosley said she's not happy that the case has settled, but stresses that the suit was "never about money." Rather, she said, the point was to ensure that changes will be made not only at Reagan but also districtwide, to ensure that students are protected. To that end, Mosley has created the Ortralla Lu Wone Mosley Foundation, which seeks to educate and provide a safe haven for adolescents dealing with dating-related violence. As part of the settlement, Mosley said, the district has agreed to allow her foundation to conduct various outreach programs at Austin schools. "I just hope that from this [tragedy] some positive changes will be made," she said. (For more on the foundation, write to the Ortralla Lu Wone Mosley Foundation, POB 381000, Duncanville, TX, 75138.)

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Ortralla Mosley, Marcus McTear, Carolyn Mosley, Ortralla Lu Wone Mosley Foundation, Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972, sexual harassment, U.S. Supreme Court, Lee Yeakel, Austin Independent School District, AISD, Reagan High School

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