Title IX lawyer: Kiel schools had no choice on investigation

An expert on Title IX says the school's action was required by federal law
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 7:07 PM CDT
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KIEL, Wis. (WBAY) - What started as a Title IX investigation at Kiel Middle School has affected the entire community. A series of bomb threats against the school and the city forced the school district to move all students to virtual learning for the remainder of the school year and led city leaders to cancel the Memorial Day parade as a precaution.

The bomb threats all reference the district’s ongoing investigation of sexual harassment. Three eighth-grade boys are accused of refusing to use a student’s chosen pronouns.

A section of the civil rights law prohibits gender-based harassment -- even name-calling on the basis of sex.

An expert on the law tells us the school district had to take action and investigate, regardless of the repercussions.

Lora Zimmer, a Title IX attorney at McCarty Law LLP, said, “Discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, based on gender identity, is prohibited under federal law -- that schools are obligated to take action. It’s not a choice on their part whether to allow discrimination of this type to happen. They’re required to take action.”

Zimmer says while family, friends and community members are able to discuss Title IX investigations, the administrators at Kiel Middle School legally cannot disclose most of their findings.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the families of the boys’ being investigated, asking for the complaint to be dropped.

WILL tells Action 2 News it will not withdraw its lawsuit even in the wake of the ongoing threats to the Kiel community.

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