A teacher witnessed a high school student hugging another teacher and reported it to his supervisors. In response to the complaint, the principal and superintendent began an investigation. Two days later, the student who was observed hugging the teacher committed suicide. The student's parents sued the school district, alleging that the district failed to adequately respond to an alleged inappropriate relationship and failed to properly train or supervise its employees. The court dismissed the case and the parents appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The facts demonstrated at court showed that when the teacher observed the other teacher hugging the student, he immediately reported it. The principal asked the reporting teacher to provide a written statement, which he did. The next day, the principal asked the accused teacher for a statement and the superintendent placed her on administrative leave. He also asked a security guard to speak with the student to ensure that he was well. During that conversation, the student denied having a relationship with the teacher and said that he “just wanted to give her a hug.” The security guard assured the student that he had done nothing wrong and instructed him to give a written statement. That evening, the student took his life.

The Court of Appeals noted that, in order to successfully pursue their lawsuit, the parents must prove that the district acted with deliberate indifference. In other words, the parents must show that the school district officials knew about, but chose to disregard, an excessive risk to the student’s health or safety. 

Based on the facts shown, the court concluded that district officials did not knowingly and recklessly disregard potential abuse or danger to the student and were not deliberately indifferent toward him. The dismissal of the lawsuit was upheld.