Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

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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

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) declaring a high school senior ineligible to play a fifth year of interscholastic football and basketball and denying his request for an exception, holding that the MIAA's determination was not arbitrary and capricious.Plaintiff, a high school senior who had repeated his junior year and had played a total of four prior years on the interscholastic teams of his high schools, and his school brought this action requesting injunctive relief enjoining the MIAA from enforcing its decision declaring Plaintiff ineligible to participate in interscholastic high school sports for a fifth academic year. The superior court allowed the motion for preliminary injunction, concluding that the MIAA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in rejecting Plaintiff's application for a waiver. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order and remanded the matter to the superior court, holding (1) a reviewing court should examine a challenge to an MIAA eligibility determination only to determine whether the decision was arbitrary and capricious; and (2) the MIAA's decision in this case was not arbitrary and capricious. View "Abner A. v. Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (“FCA”) requires students serving in leadership roles to abide by a Statement of Faith, which includes the belief that sexual relations should be limited within the context of a marriage between a man and a woman. The San Jose Unified School District (the “School District”) revoked FCA’s status as an official student club at its high schools, claiming that FCA’s religious pledge requirement violated the School District’s non-discrimination policy.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by a derecognized student club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and directed the district court to enter an order reinstating the Fellowship as a student club within the San Jose Unified School District.   The panel first held that FCA National had direct organizational standing and Pioneer High School FCA had representational organizational standing to seek prospective injunctive relief. The School District’s denial of Associated Student Body (“ASB”) recognition hampered FCA National’s ability to further student engagement with the Christian faith and required it to expend significant time and resources to assist its student members.   Addressing the merits, the panel first held that Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction sought to maintain the status quo that existed before the School District’s novel scrutiny of FCA—a prohibitory injunction—so the district court erred in applying the heightened standard for mandatory injunctions. The panel held that Plaintiffs would likely prevail on the merits of its selective enforcement claim under the Free Exercise Clause. View "FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN ATHLET V. SAN JOSE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRI" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this case involving violent peer conflicts between adolescents in middle school, holding that the circuit court erred.Plaintiffs filed a five-count complaint against several school defendants and the Board of Education for Dorchester County, alleging violations of their daughter's state constitutional right to due process and other causes of action stemming from their daughter's bullying by other students. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants, and the court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the Act does not preempt CJ § 5-518, and Plaintiffs' negligence claims against the individual school employees were not preempted by federal law; (2) the educational malpractice doctrine does not apply to Plaintiffs' negligent supervision claims; and (3) material disputes of fact precluded the entry of summary judgment. View "Gambrill v. Bd. of Education of Dorchester County" on Justia Law