Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Education upholding the decision of the North East Independent School District board to end Respondent's continuing teaching contract, holding that the record supported the board's and Commissioner's decisions. At issue was whether state and federal laws requiring school districts to record grades and evaluate student progress provide standards of conduct for the teaching provision such that the teacher's failure to comply with district policies implementing those laws supports termination for "good cause." The Commissioner agreed that Respondent's conduct was "good cause per se" for termination. The trial court reversed. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that "good cause per se" has no basis in Tex. Educ. Code 21.156(a)'s good cause definition. The Supreme Court revered, holding (1) Respondent preserved her complaint for judicial review; (2) the Commissioner erred in employing the "good cause per se" test, which has no basis in the Education Code's plain text; and (3) evidence of a failure to meet a district policy that implements state law supports a good cause determination. View "North East Independent School District v. Riou" on Justia Law

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In this appeal by allowance, the issue this case presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review centered on whether the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's (“State System”) policy regarding the protection of minors ― requiring, inter alia, that faculty members submit to criminal background checks and report to their university employers if they are arrested or convicted of a serious crime, or found or indicated to be a perpetrator of child abuse ― constituted an inherent managerial policy or prerogative, rendering it nonbargainable for purposes of collective bargaining between the faculty and the State System. The Supreme Court determined the policy at issue constituted a nonbargainable inherent managerial policy. The Court reversed the Commonwealth Court, which held to the contrary. View "APSCUF v. PLRB" on Justia Law

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Joll, an accomplished runner and an experienced running coach, had been a middle school teacher for more than 25 years. She applied for a job as the assistant coach of a high school girls’ cross-country team. The school hired a younger man for the job but invited Joll to apply for the same position on the boys’ team. She did so but the school hired a younger man again. She filed suit for sex and age discrimination. After discovery, the district court granted summary judgment for the school district, concluding that Joll had not offered enough evidence of either form of discrimination to present to a jury. The Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that the district court apparently asked “whether any particular piece of evidence proves the case by itself,” rather than aggregating the evidence “to find an overall likelihood of discrimination.” Joll offered evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to find that the school district used hiring procedures tilted in favor of the male applicants, applied sex-role stereotypes during the interview process, and manipulated the criteria for hiring in ways that were inconsistent except that they always favored the male applicants. View "Joll v. Valparaiso Community Schools" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the county, the school board, and state officials, alleging claims arising out of the Mississippi legislature's July 2016 decision to administratively consolidate two school districts and restructure the school board responsible for governing the newly-formed district. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, and grant of defendants' motion to dismiss. The court held that the appointive structure of the interim board was rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose; plaintiffs' claim that the structure of the permanent board violates the Equal Protection clause was not supported by law and plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the statute's selective grant of the franchise; and defendants' decision to fire Montgomery County School District employees and retain employees of the former Winona Municipal Separate School District must be upheld where Winona was a higher performing school district than Montgomery, and the Superintendent may have felt that the most seamless and efficient way to implement the consolidation would be to absorb the Montgomery district into the better-performing Winona district. Finally, because plaintiffs' equal protection claims failed on the merits, they have not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success and were not entitled to preliminary relief. View "Butts v. Aultman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court dismissing students' claims seeking to recover for lost funding for services denied to them under the GEAR UP program due to mismanagement and embezzlement, holding that the students lacked standing to bring their claims. The students in this case attended schools that GEAR UP was meant to serve and now attended college. The students claimed to have been denied GEAR UP benefits in their schools due to embezzlement and negligent supervision, among other claims. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, concluding that the students had standing to bring their claims but that the claims were preempted by federal law. The Supreme Court affirmed but on other grounds, holding the students failed to show standing because they failed to show how an award of monetary damages would redress the alleged past loss of supplemental educational services. View "Black Bear v. Mid-Central Educational Cooperative" on Justia Law

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Foster and the respondent were classmates an off-site executive MBA program based in Los Angeles through the University of Michigan. Students participated in once-a-month, weekend sessions at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. Foster developed a friendship with the respondent but the two did not have a dating or sexual relationship. The respondent began sending complimentary texts, giving Foster unsolicited gifts, expressing romantic interest. and making unwanted physical contact. He came to her hotel room and removed his clothing. Foster reported that the respondent had sexually harassed her to the University, which made arrangements so that the two would not stay in the same hotel, eat together, attend social functions together, or interact in class. Foster was not satisfied with the arrangements. During the next “residency,” the respondent sent vulgar text messages to administrators, violated the restrictions, and was barred from the second day of classes. His communications became increasingly aggressive. Foster obtained a restraining order but the respondent appeared at graduation in Michigan. The district court rejected Foster’s deliberate-indifference claim under Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 1681–1688, on summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Foster established a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the University was deliberately indifferent by alleging that the University’s response to the respondent’s unwillingness to comply with its orders was clearly unreasonable and caused her to undergo further harassment. View "Foster v. Board of Regents of University of Michigan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Assessor and others, seeking a refund of property taxes and special assessments, and for declaratory relief. The Court of Appeal found no support in statutory or case law for plaintiffs' claim that a nonprofit charter school should be treated as a public school district for purposes of applying the implied exemption, which plaintiffs contend exempts public schools from having to pay both taxes and special assessments. The court explained that the Legislature has specified precisely how, and to what extent, and under which statutory provisions charter schools are deemed to be part of the system of public schools, or deemed to be a school district. Notably absent is any suggestion that charters schools are to be treated like school districts for taxation purposes. The court rejected plaintiffs' claims to the contrary. View "Los Angeles Leadership Academy, Inc. v. Prang" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a parent's motion for summary judgment against the school district for alleged procedural and substantive violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The court held that the district court did not err in finding that the parent failed to meet her burden of showing that the school district violated the procedural requirements of the IDEA. In this case, none of the incidents the parent claimed amounted to a procedural violation and the court was not convinced that the student was denied a free and appropriate public education. The court also held that there were no substantive IDEA violations. The court was satisfied that the school district took the necessary steps to ensure that the student was being properly serviced under this individualized education plan, despite his absences. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of the school district's motion for summary judgment. View "A. A. v. Northside Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff John Doe asserted that the disciplinary proceeding brought against him by Defendants, the University of Denver (“DU”) along with several University employees, violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and under Title IX. The court granted summary judgment to Defendants on the Fourteenth Amendment claim because Plaintiff had failed to show that DU, a private school, was a state actor. The court also granted Defendants summary judgment on the Title IX claim, concluding that Plaintiff had adduced insufficient evidence of gender bias. Plaintiff enrolled as a freshman at DU in 2014. In October 2014, Plaintiff had a sexual encounter with Jane Doe, a female freshman, in his dorm room. Six months later, Jane’s boyfriend reported the encounter as an alleged sexual assault to a DU resident director. The resident director then spoke with Jane, who repeated the allegations and later filed with DU’s Office of Equal Opportunity a complaint of non-consensual sexual contact. Under DU’s policies, a student’s non-consensual sexual contact with another was a policy violation. Prohibited sexual contact includes contact by “coercion,” which the policy defined as “unreasonable and persistent pressure to compel another individual to initiate or continue sexual activity against an individual’s will,” such as “continued pressure” after “someone makes clear that they do not want to engage in sexual contact.” Two of the named defendants investigated the claims; the outcome of the investigation ultimately led to Plaintiff’s expulsion. The district court concluded that Plaintiff had failed to adduce sufficient evidence to raise a genuine dispute that gender was a motivating factor in DU’s decision to expel him. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. View "Doe v. University of Denver" on Justia Law

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This proceeding stemmed from a minor’s collapse during football try-outs at Lincoln High School in Stockton in 2017. Respondent Shynelle Jones presented a timely claim on behalf of her son, Jayden, to the Lincoln Unified School District under the Government Claims Act. About four months later, Jones submitted an application to the school district for leave to present a late claim on her own behalf based on her allegedly newfound realization of the severity of her son’s injuries, their impact on her own life, and her right to file her own claim. She declared that up until that point she had been able to attend to her own interests. After the application was denied, Jones filed a petition for relief from the claim presentation requirement in the superior court based on the same facts. At the hearing on her petition, her counsel, Kenneth Meleyco, presented a new explanation for the delay in submitting Jones’s claim: the day after Jones presented a claim on her son’s behalf, she retained Meleyco on her own behalf, and an error in the handling of Meleyco’s dictated memo within his office prevented the earlier preparation of Jones’s claim. The superior court granted Jones’s petition, despite noting “legitimate concerns regarding [her] credibility” because it “determined based on the directives provided in case law, to provide relief from technical rules, that [Jones] has met her burden of proof to demonstrate that her neglect was excusable.” The Court of Appeal found this ruling was an abuse of the trial court’s discretion. "[T]he general policy favoring trial on the merits cannot justify the approval of a petition that is not credible and that does not demonstrate a right to relief by a preponderance of the evidence." The Court issued a writ of mandate compelling the superior court to vacate its order and enter a new order denying Jones relief from the claim presentation requirement. View "Lincoln Unified School Dist. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law