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School administrators filed suit alleging that the school board's investigation and discipline of their efforts to convert their school into a charter school violated their freedom of speech and association in violation of the First Amendment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the school board under D'Angelo v. School Board of Polk County, 497 F.3d 1203 (11th Cir. 2007). The panel held that the Supreme Court's most recent opinion in Lane v. Franks, 134 S. Ct. 2369 (2014), did not undermine, let alone abrogate D'Angelo's precedential effect. In this case, the administrators spoke not as private citizens but as the principal and assistant principal of a public school, pursuant to their official duties, when they undertook to convert their public school into a charter school. Therefore, their speech was not protected by the First Amendment. View "Fernandez v. The School Board of Miami-Dade County" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's denial of a petition for a writ of administrative mandate. In this case, plaintiff sought to set aside his one-year suspension and other discipline imposed by CMC after a review committee found that he had nonconsensual sex with a student at a neighboring college. Plaintiff argued that he was deprived of a fair hearing because the student did not appear, and thus he and the committee did not have an opportunity to question her and assess her credibility. The court held that where, as here, a student was facing potentially severe consequences and the committee's decision against him turned on believing the student, the committee's procedures should have included an opportunity for the committee to assess the student's credibility by her appearing at the hearing in person or by videoconference or similar technology, and by the committee's asking her appropriate questions proposed by plaintiff or the committee itself. The court did not reach plaintiff's remaining challenges. View "Doe v. Claremont McKenna College" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ohio Rev. Code 3314.08 authorizes the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to base funding of an Internet-based community school - or e-school - on the duration of student participation. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), Ohio’s largest e-school, sought a permanent injunction and declaratory judgment seeking to bar ODE from requesting or considering data showing the duration of a student’s participation during its review of the e-school. The trial court denied ECOT’s claims, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 3314.08 is unambiguous and does not bar the ODE from calculating funding based on a student’s participation. View "Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow v. Ohio Department of Education" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Mary Anselmo attended Pierce College, a public community college within the Los Angeles Community College District. In 2016, Anselmo traveled to Grossmont College as a member of the Pierce College Women's Volleyball team to participate in an intercollegiate beach volleyball tournament. The Grossmont College campus and the volleyball courts where the tournament took place were owned, controlled, and maintained by defendant Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District (Grossmont). Anselmo alleged she was injured during one of the tournament games when she dove into the sand and her knee struck a rock in the sand. Anselmo filed a complaint against Grossmont alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, and premises liability. Grossmont relied on several cases in which immunity was granted to school districts that were conducting athletic-related field trips or excursions for their students, but the Court of Appeal determined the facts of those cases were readily distinguishable from the facts here. The Court held field trip immunity under California Code of Regulations section 55220 did not extend to Grossmont as the host of an interscholastic athletic competition for injuries suffered by a player on a visiting team merely because her team traveled to the site of the competition. The trial court therefore erred in sustaining Grossmont's demurrer on this ground. View "Anselmo v. Grossmont-Cuyamaca Com. College Dist." on Justia Law

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Defendants, the Ann Arbor and Clio school districts, each had a policy banning firearms on school property. The plaintiffs, advocacy organizations supporting gun ownership and certain parents of children who attend school in the defendant districts, believed state law preempted these policies by implication. The Michigan Supreme Court found that while the Legislature plainly could preempt school districts from adopting policies like the ones at issue if it chose to, it did not do so here: "not only has our Legislature not preempted school districts’ regulation of guns by implication, it has expressed its intent not to preempt such regulation." View "Michigan Gun Owners, Inc. v. Ann Arbor Public Schools" on Justia Law

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Doe claims that she was sexually assaulted by a security guard at her middle school while she was in eighth grade. She filed suit under Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 1681(a). To obtain damages, Doe was required to prove that a school official had actual knowledge of the alleged conduct. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in the school district’s favor. A reasonable jury could not have found that Ptak, the principal at Doe’s middle school, had actual knowledge of the security guard’s misconduct. It is undisputed that Ptak was unaware of Doe’s allegations of sexual abuse until after Doe had graduated; during Doe’s eighth‐grade year, no teacher or staff member had reported any incidents or concerns regarding the security guard and Doe to Ptak. Nor does Ptak recall seeing any physical contact between Collins and Doe during that school year. Doe relied on events that occurred during the previous school year to establish that Ptak had actual knowledge of the risk that the security guard would abuse Doe. View "Jane Doe No. 55 v. Madison Metropolitan School District" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the school district in an action under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), alleging that the school district failed to provide plaintiff, a former student, with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The court held that the school district committed a procedural violation of the IDEA by failing to respond to parents' requests and conduct a timely evaluation of whether the student was eligible for special education or related services. Nonetheless, plaintiff failed to show that this defect in the process had an adverse effect on his education. Therefore, plaintiff was not actually deprived of a FAPE. View "T.B. v. Prince George's County Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Foundation filed suit challenging a religious exercise at a local school board's meetings, including a prayer in the portion of the meeting that was open to the public and that included student attendees and participants. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and injunctive relief to the Foundation, holding that invocations to start the open portions of school board meetings were not within the legislative prayer tradition that allowed certain types of prayer to open legislative sessions, because these prayers typically take place before groups of schoolchildren whose attendance was not truly voluntary and whose relationship to school district officials, including the school board, was not one of full parity. Applying the test in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612–13 (1971), the panel held that the Board's prayer policy lacked a secular legislative purpose and thus violated the Establishment Clause. The panel also held that the district court's injunction was not overbroad because it was limited to restricting only speech that constituted a governmental establishment of religion. View "Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that separation-of-powers principles do not prevent the judiciary from ruling on whether the Legislature has violated its duty under the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution or violated the Equal Protection or Due Process Clauses of the Minnesota Constitution. Appellants brought a putative class-action complaint on behalf of their children, public school students, claiming that the State had violated the Education, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the Minnesota Constitution. The court of appeals concluded that the claims presented nonjusticiable political questions. The Supreme Court reversed,holding that Appellants’ claims were justiciable. Specifically, the Court held (1) the courts are the appropriate domain for determinations as to whether the Legislature has violated its constitutional duty under the Education Clause; and (2) as to Appellants’ equal protection and due process claims, while the Legislature plays a critical role in education, “it is ultimately the judiciary’s responsibility to determine what our constitution requires and whether the Legislature has fulfilled its constitutional duty.” View "Cruz-Guzman v. State" on Justia Law

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Chester Bailey Jr. was employed by the Independent School District No. 69 of Canadian County Oklahoma (“the School District”) as Director of Athletics from 2009 to 2016. Throughout his career, Bailey received positive evaluations, indicating that he “exhibited strong leadership abilities,” “demonstrat[ed] a high degree of integrity,” and was “an asset to the district.” Bailey's nephew, Dustin Graham, pled guilty in 2014 to various state charges largely stemming from video recordings he made of women in the bathroom of his apartment without their consent. Graham also pled guilty to a single count of manufacturing child pornography based on a video he recorded of a minor. There was considerable media coverage of Graham’s arrest, trial, and sentencing. During Graham’s sentencing proceedings in 2014, Bailey wrote a letter to the sentencing judge on Graham’s behalf. The School District does not issue its employees official letterhead but it was common practice for individuals to produce their own letterhead using the school logo and their titles. Bailey had created such a letterhead and used a sheet to write to Graham’s sentencing judge. The letter’s header contained the logo for the school district, and gave the address of the Department of Athletics and Bailey’s job title. More than thirty individuals wrote letters to the sentencing judge on Graham’s behalf, including his local state representative. In 2017, the Superintendent of Schools for the School District received a letter expressing concern that Bailey used School District letterhead in support of an individual convicted of a child pornography offense. The Superintended decided to recommend Bailey's termination, citing loss of trust in Bailey's judgment, for using the school letterhead to request leniency for Graham. After a due process hearing before the Board of Education, the Board terminated Bailey's employment. Bailey filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the School District and Superintendent, alleging wrongful termination in retaliation for speech protected by the First Amendment. Concluding that Bailey’s speech did not relate to a matter of public concern, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the School District and the Superintendent. Bailey timely appealed. The issue this case presented on appeal to the Tenth Circuit was whether a letter written by a public employee, seeking a reduced sentence for his relative, speech on a matter of public concern for the purposes of a First Amendment "Garcetti/Pickering" inquiry. The Court determined it was, and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgement favoring the School District. Nonetheless, the Court affirmed the district court’s grant of qualified immunity to school superintendent Sean McDaniel because the law was not previously clearly established on this issue. View "Bailey v. Independent School District No. 69" on Justia Law