Nicole B. v. School District of Philadelphia

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Juvenile Law Center signed onto an amicus brief with Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center filed in the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Nicole B. v. School District of Philadelphia, a case involving a Philadelphia student who was relentlessly bullied because of his race and nonconformance with gender stereotypes; the school failed to intervene and allowed the bullying to escalate from verbal harassment, to multiple physical assaults, and, ultimately, to rape. We argued that this student, and others like him, should have protection under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), Pennsylvania’s antidiscrimination law, when their school fails to intervene to stop ongoing harassment.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court transferred the case to the Commonwealth Court, which refused to consider the merits of the case because N.B., who was nine at the time he was raped, did not file his claim within 180 days of the incident. A legal doctrine known as minority tolling generally means that the time bar for bringing a child’s claim does not begin until the child turns 18, but the court ruled that minority tolling does not apply to PHRA claims.

Following the filing of a Petition for Allowance of Appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Juvenile Law Center joined Education Law Center and Public Interest Law Center on an amicus brief requesting the Pennsylvania Supreme Court review the Commonwealth Court’s ruling and ensure that children who experience discrimination in school can benefit from the protections of the PHRA. We argued that minority tolling is a vital protection for Pennsylvania’s children, as it is fundamentally unfair to hold children like N.B. to the same statute of limitations as adults.