by
The First Circuit dismissed as moot a school district’s challenge to the district court’s order compelling the school district to determine a student’s eligibility for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) without first obtaining its own evaluations and reversed the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees to the student’s parents, holding that the challenge to the order was moot and the attorneys’ fee award was mistaken. M.S., a student formerly enrolled in the Westerly School District in Westerly, Rhode Island, suffered from Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Plaintiffs, M.S.’s parents, unsuccessfully sought to have Westerly determine that M.S. was eligible for an IEP under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. During the dispute, the district court entered an order forcing Westerly to forego conducting its own evaluations and decide immediately if M.S. was eligible for an IEP, resulting in a determination that M.S. was not eligible. The court then awarded Plaintiffs attorneys’ fees as the prevailing parties. On appeal, the First Circuit held (1) because M.S. and Plaintiffs have since moved out of the Westerly school district, this Court lacked the power to review the order that Westerly determine M.S.’s eligibility without first conducting its own evaluations; and (2) the attorneys’ fees award was not proper because Plaintiffs were not the prevailing parties. View "J.S. v. Westerly School District" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs are four parents and their children residing throughout California and a California nonprofit corporation, A Voice for Choice, Inc. This case rose constitutional challenges to Senate Bill No. 277, which repealed the personal belief exemption to California’s immunization requirements for children attending public and private educational and child care facilities. Plaintiffs sued claiming Senate Bill No. 277 violated their rights under California’s Constitution to substantive due process, privacy, and a public education. The trial court sustained the defendants’ demurrer to plaintiffs’ complaint without leave to amend and plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, plaintiffs also raised an additional argument that Senate Bill No. 277 violated their constitutional right to free exercise of religion, although they did not allege a separate cause of action on that basis in their complaint. The Court of Appeal found "[p]laintiffs' arguments are strong on hyperbole and scant on authority." Finding no violation of plaintiffs' constitutional rights, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court. View "Love v. California Dept. of Education" on Justia Law

by
After Katherine Rosen, a student at the University of California, was severely injured by another student who had been receiving treatment for mental illness, Rosen filed a negligence action against university personnel for failing to take reasonable measures to protect her from the foreseeable violent conduct. On remand from the California Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal denied defendants' petition for writ of mandate, except with respect to defendant Nicole Green. The court held that the standard of care governing a university's duty to protect its students from foreseeable acts of violence is the ordinary reasonable person standard; triable issues of fact exist as to whether defendants breached their duty of care to Rosen; and although Civil Code section 43.92 precludes liability against defendant Nicole Green, the remaining defendants are not statutorily immune from suit. View "The Regents of the University of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

by
E.R. has a history of life-threatening, non-convulsive, seizures, manifested by minor changes in her personality. The seizures must be timely treated by activating an implanted vagus-nerve stimulator and administering a Diastat suppository within two minutes. E.R. has permanently implanted shunts in her head that could fail, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a speech impairment, and impaired concentration. E.R. is globally developmentally delayed with an IQ of 51, and her medicines affect her ability to progress academically. E.R.’s academic years were based on individualized education plans (IEPs), developed by the school district (SBISD) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1414(d). After disputes with SBISD, E.R.’s parents removed her from SBISD and enrolled E.R. in private school, asserting SBISD had denied E.R. the IDEA-required free appropriate public education. They sought tuition reimbursement. The hearing officer, the district court, and the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of SBISD. The Fifth Circuit did not reach whether the district court was required to allow E.R.’s requested additional evidence because E.R. failed to brief how the claimed error affected a substantial right. E.R. failed to produce evidence that her IEP goals were too easy, or that she was capable of doing more. SBISD’s actions were procedurally and substantively reasonable. View "E. R. v. Spring Branch Independent School District" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Chancery denied that motion to dismiss filed by Defendants in this case claiming that Delaware’s public schools are failing to educate low-income students, students with disabilities, and students whose first language is not English (collectively, Disadvantaged Students), holding that Plaintiffs stated justiciable claims. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against the Governor, the Secretary of Education, and the State Treasurer, arguing that the State was not providing Disadvantaged Students adequate funding, appropriate classroom environments, and educational services and seeking declaratory judgments and equitable relief compelling the State to comply with its constitutional obligations. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The Court of Chancery denied the motion, holding (1) the complaint’s allegations supported a reasonable inference that the State is violating the Education Clause by failing to provide a general and efficient system of public schools that educates Disadvantaged Students and that Delaware’s public schools fall short of that mark; and (2) the public schools’ constitutional obligation is one that the judiciary can enforce. View "Delawareans for Educational Opportunity v. Carney" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division concluding that the Commissioner of the State Education Department’s determination regarding Petitioner’s request for funding was affected by its erroneous interpretation of “universal Pre-K” law, holding that the statutory scheme governing charter school pre-kindergarten program allows for shared oversight authority between charter entities and local school districts. Petitioner was a not-for-profit education corporation which operated dozens of charter schools across New York City. Petitioner requested an order directing the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to pay for certain pre-kindergarten programs and a declaration that the DOE contract seeking to regulate the curriculum and operations of the charter school pre-kindergarten program was unlawful. The Commissioner concluded that DOE was not required to pay Petitioner for the pre-kindergarten programs and that, with the exception of two aspects in the DOE contract, the contract was lawful. Petitioner then filed this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 petition seeking to annual the Commissioner’s determination. Supreme Court dismissed the petition. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Commissioner’s determination was affected by an erroneous interpretation of N.Y. Educ. Law 3602-ee. View "Matter of DeVera v. Elia" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs appealed a trial court’s order granting defendants’ motion for summary judgment on their negligence claims. Plaintiffs were Jordan Preavy’s mother, Tracy Stopford, in her individual capacity and as administrator of his estate, and his father, Sean Preavy. They alleged their son tcommitted suicide as a result of being assaulted by some of his teammates on the Milton High School football team, which, according to plaintiffs, the school negligently failed to prevent. On appeal, plaintiffs argued the court did not properly apply the summary judgment standard nor the appropriate duty of care and that it erred when it concluded that plaintiffs failed to prove that the assault was foreseeable and that it was the proximate cause of Jordan’s suicide. Further, plaintiffs argued the court improperly imposed a monetary sanction on their attorney after finding that he engaged in a prohibited ex parte communication with defendants’ expert witness. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Stopford v. Milton Town School District" on Justia Law

by
After the Department of Education issued a proposed determination that Texas was ineligible for $33.3 million of future grants because of the shortfall in both aggregate and per capita state funding, the state argued that it had complied with the "maintenance of state financial support" (MFS) requirement because funding under a weighted-student model had remained constant. The Fifth Circuit denied Texas' petition for review and held that the weighted-student model contravenes the plain meaning of the MFS clause. The court explained that, under the weighted-student model, Texas may reduce the amount of funding for special education if it determines that the needs of children with disabilities have changed. In this case, Texas violated the plain requirements of the MFS clause by doing so and was therefore ineligible for the corresponding amount of future Individuals and Disabilities Education Act Part B grants. Finally, the MFS clause did not exceed Congress's spending power by failing to provide sufficiently clear notice of its requirements. View "Texas Education Agency v. United States Department of Education" on Justia Law

by
Ashby’s son was a member of his elementary school choir. In 2014 and 2015, the choir performed a Christmas concert at a local museum in a historic building. The building was not then accessible to persons with disabilities. Ashby, who uses a wheelchair, was unable to attend the concerts. She sued the School Corporation, alleging discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12132, and the Rehabilitation Act. The district court concluded that the Christmas concert was not a “service, program, or activity of” the Warrick Schools, nor was the concert an activity “provided or made available” by the School Corporation and granted summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, accepting the Department of Justice’s suggestion that when a public entity offers a program in conjunction with a private entity, the question of whether a service, program, or activity is one “of” a public entity is fact-based and that there is a “spectrum” of possible relationships ranging from a “true joint endeavor” to participation in a wholly private event. The Department’s interpretation of its regulations is a reasonable one that offers a loose but practical framework that aids in decision-making. Upon close examination of the record, it is clear that the event in question was not a service, program, or activity provided or made available by the School Corporation. View "Ashby v. Warrick County School Corp" on Justia Law

by
Mother contends that Utica Schools (UCS) violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 because the Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for her son, Dylan did provide him with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Dylan suffers from Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Tourette’s Disorder, and symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. During the 2012–2013 school year, Dylan was 18 years old and in his fifth year of high school. Dylan's IEP provided that Dylan’s IEP team would implement and document a trial of “assistive technology” and that his curriculum would be evenly split between special education and general education classes. The “Post-Secondary Vision and Transition Activities” section listed several activities in which Dylan was interested that could lead to employment but did not list any next steps or resources. UCS placed Dylan in Community Based Inclusion (CBI) for two periods of his school day. CBI covers “daily living skills, employability training, recreation[,] leisure, [and] personal social skills.” Dylan was enrolled in three special education classes and one general education class, so the CBI placement was inconsistent with his IEP. After mother objected, UCS provided Dylan with instruction in the office, apart from other students. By June 2013, the school had reevaluated Dylan and developed a new IEP, which was amended several times. Mother voluntarily withdrew Dylan from UCS and enrolled him in private school. She filed an administrative complaint with the Michigan Department of Education. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment, noting that the district acknowledged denying Dylan a FAPE. UCS was ordered to pay for 1,200 hours of tutoring and one year of transition planning as compensatory education and to pay $210,654.65 in attorney fees and costs. View "Somberg v. Utica Community Schools" on Justia Law