The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court announced today that it will hear en banc Wible v. School District of Philadelphia, Berney & Sang’s landmark student-on-student bullying and harassment case. The Court scheduled oral argument for November 13, 2019 at 930AM in the Commonwealth Court’s Philadelphia courtroom.
In the case, Berney Sang represents Amanda Wible, a Philadelphia student who was bullied and harassed because of her sex for more than half a decade. Each day, classmates assaulted her, spat on her, destroyed her schoolwork, spread sexual rumors about her, and called her “bitch,” “she-he,” “dyke,” “fag,” “slut,” and other sexual epithets. The District did nothing, perpetuating the harassment through inaction.
Amanda was ultimately forced to drop out of the District and enroll in a cyber charter school. Thereafter, Berney & Sang represented her in a lawsuit against the District, alleging that it violated her rights under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act by subjecting her to a sexually hostile school environment.
Last year, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ruled in Amanda’s favor. In a landmark decision, it confirmed that under state law, Pennsylvania’s public schools have a duty to address discriminatory student-on-student harassment.
The School District, however, appealed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, and in May 2019, Berney & Sang filed Amanda’s brief defending her verdict. You can read it here.
The appeal has garnered national attention. The Education Law Center and Women’s Law Project filed an amicus brief in support of Amanda, with public-interest organizations from across the country signing on. The organizations include:
- The American Association of University Women American Civil Liberties Union
- The ACLU of Pennsylvania
- Atlanta Women for Equality
- California Women’s Law Center Education Law Center
- End Rape on Campus
- Gender Justice
- Gwen’s Girls, Inc.
- The Juvenile Law Center
- Legal Voice
- The National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh National Crittenton
- The National Women’s Law Center
- The Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
- The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
- The Philadelphia NOW Education Fund
- The Southwest Women’s Law Center
- WOAR-Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence
- Women Against Abuse, Inc.
- Women and Girls Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania
- The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Inc.
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the state’s anti-discrimination agency, also filed an amicus brief in support of Amanda.