Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal without prejudice of T.B.'s discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The court held, on the record before it, that T.B. seeks redress for denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and thus, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), he was required to exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing this claim to the district court. Because he has failed to do so, his complaint was properly dismissed. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying T.B.'s motion to reconsider or request to amend. View "T. B. v. Northwest Independent School District" on Justia Law

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The court of appeal upheld the dismissal of a claim against a school district under the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civ. Code 51), A school district is not a business establishment and cannot be sued under the Unruh Act even where, as in this case, the alleged discriminatory conduct is actionable under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. 12101).The California Supreme Court has not considered whether a government entity, specifically an agent of the state performing a state constitutional obligation is a business establishment within the meaning of the Act. The court of appeal examined the historical genesis of the Act and the Act’s limited legislative history. Public school districts are, nonetheless, subject to stringent anti-discrimination laws set forth in the Education Code and the comprehensive anti-discrimination provisions set forth in the Government Code and applicable to all government entities, as well as federal constitutional mandates (actionable under 42 U.S.C. 1983), and statutes such as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681), Title II of the ADA (42 U.S.C. 12131), and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794). View "Brennon B. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA) had associational standing to bring its claims against the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Board of Overseers (collectively, Harvard) and that Harvard's race-conscious undergraduate admissions program does not violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.In its suit, SFFA alleged that Harvard's race-conscious admissions processed violated Title VI by discriminating against Asian American applicants in favor of white applicants. SFFA sought a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, attorneys' fees and costs. The district court denied Harvard's motion to dismiss for lack of standing and then found that Harvard had met its burden of showing its admissions process did not violate Title VI. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) SFFA had associational standing to bring its claims; and (2) under governing Supreme Court law, Harvard's admissions program does not violate Title VI. View "Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College" on Justia Law

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After Drake University and its Board of Trustees expelled plaintiff for sexually assaulting a female student, plaintiff filed suit for violations of Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities (ADA), as well as claims related to breach of contract. On appeal, plaintiff challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment on his Title IX claim based on an erroneous outcome theory, his ADA claim, and his breach of implied duty of good faith and promissory estoppel claims.After determining that the court had jurisdiction to review plaintiff's appeal, the court held that there is no genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether being male was a motivating factor for plaintiff's expulsion from Drake; Drake's Code of Student Conduct and Policy on Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct processes, although not equivalent to those provided in nonacademic settings, are not reflective of gender bias, either in statement or in application; the hearing panel did not reach decisions contrary to the weight of the evidence; and the pressure that was being put on Drake to investigate and adjudicate Title IX complaints by females against males does not appear to have approached that described in Doe v. University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, 974 F.3d at 865, nor was it combined with the clearly irregular investigative and adjudicative processes that were found to support a prima facie claim of sex discrimination in Doe v. Columbia University, 831 F.3d at 56-57, and in Menaker v. Hofstra University, 935 F.3d 20, 35 (2nd Cir. 2019).The court rejected plaintiff's ADA claim and affirmed the district court's ruling that no genuine issue of material fact existed regarding plaintiff's need for accommodations. Finally, the court held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on plaintiff's claims for breach of implied duty of good faith and promissory estoppel. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Drake and remanded with instructions to dismiss with prejudice the claims that had previously been dismissed without prejudice by stipulation. View "Rossley v. Drake University" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals finding that Ohio Rev. Code 3319.321(B), a provision of the Ohio Student Privacy Act (OSPA), prohibits disclosure of records pertaining to a deceased former public-school student in response to a public-records request, holding that the OSPA unambiguously forbids disclosure of the requested records.Appellants each submitted a public-records request to the school district of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools (the school district) requesting school records related to Connor Betts, who killed nine people in a mass shooting in Dayton. Betts was a graduate of a high school that was part of the school district. When the school district denied the requests Appellants filed this action for a writ of mandamus, arguing that they had a clear legal right to inspect Betts's records under Ohio Rev. Code 149.43(B). The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 3319.321(B) prohibits the disclosure of the records sought by Appellants. View "State ex rel. Cable News Network, Inc. v. Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools" on Justia Law

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Ryan, a tenured professor of journalism at the University of Kentucky, was accused of misusing department resources to make a larger profit off a textbook he had authored. He was asked to resign but refused to do so. Ryan brought suit alleging that the defendants retaliated against him for asserting his due process and First Amendment rights after he refused to resign.The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Ryan’s claim. Ryan’s due process rights were not violated; a faculty committee conducted an investigation into his conduct and made its recommendation not to terminate Ryan’s employment. A statement to the press by the University’s provost was not sufficiently chilling that it would deter a person of ordinary firmness from refusing to resign, and cannot be considered retaliation. Ryan failed to state a claim for First Amendment retaliation because the facts alleged do not implicate a matter of public concern. Furthermore, because Ryan failed to allege a violation of a clearly established constitutional right, he is not able to overcome qualified immunity. View "Ryan v. Blackwell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Terri Baker appealed the dismissal of this putative class action for lack of standing. She sued on behalf of herself and her son, S.F.B., to challenge Kansas laws and school district policies that: (1) required children to be vaccinated to attend school and participate in child care programs; and (2) provided a religious exemption from these requirements. She claimed these immunization laws and policies violated various federal and state constitutional provisions and statutes. Baker argued she and S.F.B. had standing because the immunization requirements and religious exemptions injured them in two ways: (1) the District misapplied Kansas law when it granted a religious exemption for S.F.B. to attend preschool despite being unvaccinated - her fear that the District would revoke S.F.B.'s religious exemption was an injury in fact that established standing; and (2) Baker "would like the option" of placing S.F.B. in a non-accredited private school (i.e., home school), school programs, or licensed child care - she contended Kansas law inhibited her from exercising these options and caused an injury in fact because she would be unable to secure a religious exemption for S.F.B. if she tried. Finding no reversible error in the district court's dismissal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Baker v. USD 229 Blue Valley" on Justia Law

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The circuit court dismissed with prejudice a complaint relating to an alleged sexual assault of a minor at an Autauga County, Alabama school. Multiple requests for continuances were granted. The last such grant, the circuit court admonished it would not grant additional continuances "absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances." A few days later, plaintiffs moved for another continuance, citing a scheduling conflict involving mediation in a separate case in another county. The circuit court did not rule on the motion, instead issuing an order dismissing the case with prejudice. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the circuit court exceeded its discretion in dismissing S.C. and K.C.'s claims when there was no clear record of delay or contumacious conduct by the plaintiffs. "By contacting court personnel, the parties were attempting to find a date for the circuit court's convenience as well as to make sure that the case proceeded to the merits in a timely manner. . . . That most severe sanction in the spectrum of sanctions is not warranted in this case." View "S.C. et al. v. Autauga County Board of Education et al." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting judgment to the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education in this federal constitutional challenge to the requirement of Maine's tuition assistance program that a private school must be "a nonsectarian school in accordance with the First Amendment" to qualify as "approved" to receive tuition assistance payments, holding that the program's condition violated neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the Establishment Clause.To ensure that Maine's school administrative units (SAUs) make the benefits of a free public education available Maine provides by statute that SAUs that do not operate a public secondary school of their own may either contract with a secondary school for school privileges or pay the tuition at the public school or an approved private school at which the student from their SAU is accepted. Plaintiffs brought this suit against the Commissioner, arguing that the program's requirement that a private school be a nonsectarian school to receive tuition assistance payments infringed various of their federal constitutional rights. The district court granted judgment to the Commissioner. Having twice before rejected similar federal constitutional challenges to the "nonsectarian" requirement and even accounting for fresh United States Supreme Court precedent the First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' constitutional challenges failed. View "Carson v. Makin" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his instructor at Charter Oak State College, alleging that the instructor violated his First Amendment rights by removing an online blog post that he made in response to a class assignment. Plaintiff also alleged that the instructor and others violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment in connection with disciplining him for the blog post.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court held that the district court did not err by analyzing plaintiff's First Amendment claim under the Hazelwood standard because plaintiff's speech bears the hallmark of school sponsorship. The court also held that, under the Hazelwood standard, the district court did not err in determining that the instructor's deletion of plaintiff's post was reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns. Furthermore, plaintiff failed plausibly to allege that the instructor's actions constituted viewpoint discrimination. Rather, the instructor's deletion of plaintiff's post reflected a content-based restriction that the Supreme Court has instructed the court to tolerate in the school setting. In this context of an online message board for completing course assignments, the court concluded that plaintiff was not subjected to viewpoint discrimination when his post criticizing rather than performing the assignment was deleted. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process claim and held that plaintiff was afforded a full opportunity to be heard and received sufficient process, and any discernible substantive due process claim fails alongside his more particularized First Amendment censorship claim. View "Collins v. Putt" on Justia Law