Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

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The Alaska Legislature created and funded the Higher Education Investment Fund (HEIF) to provide annual grants and scholarships to students pursuing post-secondary education in Alaska. The HEIF later was identified as potentially eligible for a sweep of its unappropriated funds. After the Legislature failed in 2021 to garner a supermajority vote required to prevent the sweep, a group of students (the Students) sued the Governor in his official capacity, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Department of Administration (collectively the Executive Branch), alleging that the HEIF was not sweepable. The superior court agreed with the Executive Branch, and the Students appealed. Because a previous case interpreting the constitutional provision governing the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) controlled, the Alaska Supreme Court declined to reject that precedent, and affirmed the superior court's determination that the HEIF was sweepable. View "Short, et al. v. Alaska Office of Management & Budget" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Poway Unified School District (the District) constructed a new elementary school. The $82 million project was funded primarily by special tax bonds paid for by homeowners in local communities. Approximately four years later, following the passage of Proposition 51, the District received reimbursement funds from the State of California ($27,672,923). The District allocated a small portion to retire local bonds but used a larger amount toward new high priority outlay expenditures. Two homeowners, Albert Bates and Bridget Denihan, disagreed with the District’s fund allocation decision and filed a petition for a writ of mandate and a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. The trial court denied all relief and entered a judgment in the District’s favor. On appeal, the Homeowners contended California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 1859.90.5 and Education Code section 17070.631 required the District to allocate all newly acquired “State Funds” toward retiring the local bonds, unless it could prove there was a savings during construction (but there was none). The Court of Appeal concluded the Homeowners’ arguments had merit, and reversed the judgment. View "Bates v. Poway Unified School Dist." on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the issue presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review was whether Appellant, Wilkinsburg School District, was required to obtain prior approval from the Department of Education before changing the mode of transportation for charter school students, from school buses to public transportation. After review of the governing statutes and administrative regulations promulgated by the State Board of Education, the Supreme Court concluded the District was not required to obtain such approval and, therefore, reversed the Commonwealth Court decision and remanded to that court for further proceedings. View "Bell, et al. v. Wilkinsburg Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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The Los Angeles College Faculty Guild (Guild) represents faculty at the nine community colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District (District). The Guild appeals the trial court’s judgment of dismissal of its petition to compel arbitration of grievances relating to the District’s decision to cancel all remedial for-credit English and mathematics courses two levels below transfer level. The Guild contends the court erred in determining it, rather than an arbitrator, should decide the issue of arbitrability and further erred in finding the grievances non-arbitrable. The Guild maintains the grievances involve violations of several provisions of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the parties and so are subject to the arbitration provision of that agreement.   The Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s order denying the motion and petition and its subsequent judgment of dismissal. The court explained that the decision to cancel remedial for-credit English and mathematics courses two levels before transfer level is, in essence, a decision about the content of courses and curriculum. Put differently, it is a decision not to offer courses that contain such content. Thus, it is a matter within the discretion of the district, and so not within the scope of representation. It is therefore not an arbitrable issue.   The Guild makes much of the fact that the courses were canceled after they were placed on the tentative schedule for Fall 2019. The Guild, however, does not assert any schedule-related harm from the timing of the decision. Thus, the trial court’s conclusion that there was no arbitrable claim under Article 17(D)(1)(b) was correct. View "L.A. College Faculty Guild etc. v. L.A. Community College Dist." on Justia Law

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Will started attending Farragut High School in 2015. Will’s style and his friendships created “a perception that he was alternatively sexually oriented” and affiliated “with the LGBT movement.” According to his parents, administrators targeted Will for discipline because of his appearance, perceived sexual orientation, and speech. There were several disciplinary actions that contributed to Will’s increasing anxiety and depression. Although a teacher graded an assignment in which Will expressed suicidal thoughts, nobody at the school informed his parents. During his sophomore year, Will died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.Will's parents brought a state court suit, alleging deprivation of “administrative due process” during Will’s suspension proceedings, violations of the District’s anti-harassment and suicide-prevention policies, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The District removed the suit to federal court, arguing that the “due process” allegations raised federal claims. The district court remanded the suit in 2018, based on the parents’ assertions that they raised only state law claims. Their attorney let the suit languish for years. A new attorney believed that the state law claims would fail and filed an amended complaint adding claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and claims under Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 1681. The District removed the suit to federal court again. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the federal claims as time-barred. The parents forfeited several of their arguments by failing to raise them earlier. View "Bannister v. Knox County Board of Education" on Justia Law

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At the Ohio State University, Dr. Strauss allegedly abused hundreds of young men under the guise of performing medical examinations, between 1978-1998. The University placed Strauss on leave in 1996, while it investigated his conduct, and ultimately declined to renew his appointments with Student Health Services and terminated his employment with the Athletics Department. It did not publicly provide reasons for these decisions. The University conducted a hearing but did not notify students or give them an opportunity to participate. Strauss remained a tenured faculty member. He retired in 1998, with emeritus status. He opened a private clinic near the University to treat “common genital/urinary problems,” advertised in the student newspaper, and continued treating students. An independent investigation commissioned by the University in 2018 and undertaken by a law firm substantiated allegations of abuse.Strauss’s victims brought Title IX suits, alleging that the University was deliberately indifferent to their heightened risk of abuse. The district court found that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Many plaintiffs adequately alleged that they did not know they were abused until 2018; the time of the abuse, they were young and did not know what was medically appropriate. Strauss gave pretextual, false medical explanations for the abuse. The plaintiffs did not have reason to know that others had previously complained about Strauss’s conduct. View "Moxley v. The Ohio State University" on Justia Law

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On April 10, 2017, Cedric Anderson entered his wife’s classroom at an elementary school, which was part of the San Bernardino City Unified School District (the district). Anderson shot and killed his wife, a student, and himself in front of a class of students. Plaintiffs-appellants C.I. (minor), J.I. (guardian ad litem), D.B. (minor), J.B. (guardian ad litem), B.E.Jr. (minor), B.E.Sr. (guardian ad litem), J.A.G. (minor), J.G. (guardian ad litem), M.M. (minor), M.T.M. (guardian ad litem), M.P. (minor), E.B. (guardian ad litem), M.R. (minor), and D.R. (guardian ad litem) filed suit against defendants-respondents district and Y.D. (the school’s principal), alleging, inter alia, negligence and dangerous condition of property. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds they owed no duty to plaintiffs because Anderson’s actions were unforeseeable, the school property was not a dangerous condition because there was no defect, and Anderson was not using the school property with due care. The trial court agreed, and judgment was entered in defendants’ favor. On appeal, plaintiffs contended defendants had a duty to take reasonable steps to protect students from criminal activity, and the district created a dangerous condition by failing to lock the front office door and equip classrooms with doors that locked. Finding no reversible error in the trial court judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "C.I. v. San Bernardino City Unified School Dist." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the summary judgment entered by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in favor of Warrensville Heights in this real property dispute, holding that the agreement between the parties in this case was valid and enforceable.The Beachwood City School District Board of Education sought approval from the state board of education for a transfer of territory it annexed in 1990 to the Beachwood City School District. The Warrensville Heights City School District Board of Education, whose district the annexed territory was a part of, objected. In 1997, Beachwood and Warrensville Heights agreed that the territory would not transfer to the Beachwood City School District but that the districts would share the tax revenue generated from real property located within the territory. The court of common pleas granted summary judgment for Warrensville Heights, concluding that the parties' agreement was not valid. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the 1997 agreement required neither approval nor a fiscal certificate and therefore was valid and enforceable. View "Beachwood City School District Bd. of Education v. Warrensville Heights City School District Bd. of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing the appeal brought by the Board of Education of the City of New Haven after a human rights referee concluded that the Board had discriminated against a student on the basis of his disabilities and awarding damages of $25,000, holding that the Board was not entitled to relief on its claims of error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not err in determining that the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities had subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the student's claim that the Board had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.; (2) the trial court properly concluded that the Commission had subject matter jurisdiction over the student's claims when his father failed to exhaust his administrative remedies pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.; and (3) the Board's third claim was not reviewable on appeal. View "Board of Education v. Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the rulings of the district court in this civil action brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., holding that none of the parties were entitled to relief on their claims brought on appeal and cross-appeal.Plaintiffs filed an administrative complaint alleging that the Newton Public Schools violated the IDEA by failing to provide their son David with a free appropriate public education, 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(1). The Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals rejected the complaint. Thereafter, Plaintiffs brought this complaint. The district court granted judgment for Plaintiffs and ordered Newton to reimburse them for expenses they had incurred in placing their son at a private residential school in Connecticut. Defendants appealed, challenging the court's decision to exclude boarding- and travel-related expenses from the order of reimbursement. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that none of the parties were entitled to relief on their allegations of error. View "Doe v. Newton Public Schools" on Justia Law