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Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), an administrative due process complaint about a child's educational placement can result in an administrative hearing. At least 10 days before the hearing, the school district can extend a “10-day” settlement offer, 20 U.S.C. 1415(i)(3)(D)(i)(I)-(III). That offer limits a parent’s eligibility for attorney’s fees to only those fees accrued before the offer. If a parent rejects the offer, the parent may only receive attorney’s fees for work done after the offer if the hearing leads to more favorable relief than the offer included, or the parent was substantially justified in rejecting the offer. Rena filed a complaint against the Colonial School District to determine an appropriate placement for her daughter. Colonial extended and Rena rejected a 10-day offer. After a hearing, an administrative officer ordered a private school placement for the student. The district court awarded Rena attorney’s fees only for work performed before the offer. The Third Circuit reversed, holding that Rena was substantially justified in rejecting Colonial’s offer. Colonial made a valid offer of settlement and Rena did not receive more favorable relief in the administrative order but she was substantially justified in rejecting the offer because it did not address attorney’s fees. View "Rena C. v. Colonial School District" on Justia Law

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Manley, a school board member, was not up for reelection but her allies were when she had a verbal altercation with a student who was leaf-letting for Manley’s political opponents outside a high school play. The student accused Manley of bullying; the student and her parents pursued a campaign to embarrass Manley with online petitions, newspaper articles, and comments at public meetings. The superintendent began an investigation. Manley sued to enjoin the investigation. No injunction was issued. A public report found that Manley violated a board policy calling for “mutual respect, civility and orderly conduct” at school events. The board formally admonished Manley. Manley did not seek reelection. Manley’s claim for damages was rejected on summary judgment for failure to offer evidence of a required element of a due process claim: the deprivation of a constitutionally recognized liberty or property interest. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Manley’s claims that she was deprived of a feeling of fair‐dealing on the part of the government; her mental and emotional well‐being; and processes mandated by the state and the district. The Constitution does not require government officials to avoid upsetting other officials; this “unprecedented theory’s threat to robust public debate is obvious.” Emotional distress alone is insufficient to prove a denial of due process. Manley identified no substantive liberty or property interest attached to the procedural rules the district allegedly violated. View "Manley v. Law" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the issue this case presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's review focused on state action based on, among other grounds, the Religious Aid Clause of Article I, Paragraph 3 of the New Jersey Constitution, specifically its prohibition against the use of public funds “for the maintenance of any minister or ministry.” The challenge arose following the Secretary of Higher Education’s (Secretary) determination to award grant monies to a yeshiva and to a theological seminary as part of a state program to subsidize facility and infrastructure projects for higher education institutions. The Appellate Division determined that prior case law concerning the New Jersey Constitution’s Religious Aid Clause required invalidation of the grants to the yeshiva and theological seminary. The State maintained the proper constitutional analysis in this matter turned on the use to which these higher education institutions would put the monies, not the nature of the institutions themselves. The Supreme Court determined judicial review was premature because factual disputes required resolution before the Secretary could make a properly informed decision on the grant applications. Because an informed administrative decision could not have been made without the benefit of a proper record, the matter was remanded to the Secretary, in order that a contested case proceeding be conducted prior to the ultimate administrative decision of the Secretary concerning the challenged grants. View "American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey v. Hendricks" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Jaclyn Thompson alleged that she was mentally disabled as a result of three incidents at work. Petitioner was a health and physical education teacher. She taught regular gym classes, coached, and served as an advisor and mentor. She also taught gym classes specifically geared toward students with disabilities. During three of petitioner’s classes, students punched, slapped, or pushed her. Petitioner sustained no physical injuries in the three incidents, and she required no medical treatment. Petitioner filed a request for accidental disability retirement benefits based on the three incidents. Her psychiatrist diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Board of Trustees of the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund (Board) denied her request for accidental disability benefits but found petitioner qualified for a deferred retirement. Petitioner argued she met the requirement for mental disability because the incidents involved physical contact. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found petitioner did not meet the standard for accidental disability benefits. However, the ALJ granted her ordinary disability benefits. The ALJ found that she suffered from PTSD, that medication was ineffective at abating her symptoms, and that she was totally and permanently disabled from the performance of her regularly assigned duties. Petitioner appealed the denial of accidental disability benefits. The Board affirmed the ALJ. Petitioner then appealed to the Appellate Division. The majority of the panel affirmed. Finding no abuse of discretion, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Division. View "Thompson v. Board of Trustees, Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund" on Justia Law

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Ed Richardson and Reginald Eggleston, individually and in their official capacities as interim superintendent of the Alabama Department of Education and chief administrative officer of the Alabama State Board of Education, respectively, and Gordon Stone, individually and in his official capacity as mayor of the Town of Pike Road (collectively referred to as "the defendants"), appealed an injunction staying the sale of Georgia Washington Middle School, located in Montgomery, and the sale of any other real property owned by, or the closure of any other schools operated by, the Montgomery County Board of Education. The Alabama Supreme Court determined plaintiffs did not have standing to bring suit, thus the trial court never acquired subject-matter jurisdiction over this case. Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and ordered the trial court to dismiss the case. View "Richardson v. Relf" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial in part of the University's motion to dismiss an action alleging violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The district court refused to dismiss the Title IX claims on the basis of sovereign immunity. The court agreed that the University waived its sovereign immunity under the Remedies Equalization amendment by accepting federal funds. View "Fryberger v. University of Arkansas" on Justia Law

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Students granted deferred removal action by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy are not eligible for in-state college tuition in Arizona. In 2013, the Arizona Attorney General filed this action seeking a determination that the Maricopa County Community College District Board’s (MCCCD) policy of accepting employment authorization documents (EADs) issued to DACA recipients by the DHS as evidence of residency for students to receive in-state tuition violated Arizona law. The Attorney General also sought an injunction prohibiting MCCCD from allowing DACA recipients to obtain the in-state tuition rates. Two DACA-recipient MCCCD students who receive in-state tuition intervened. The trial court granted summary judgment to MCCCD and the students, concluding that DACA recipients are “lawfully present” for purposes of eligibility for in-state tuition and are therefore eligible for in-state tuition benefits. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that DACA recipients are not “lawfully present” for purposes of 8 U.S.C. 1623(a), which governs in-state tuition benefits, and therefore, DACA recipients are not eligible for in-state tuition. View "State ex rel. Attorney General v. Maricopa County Community College District Board" on Justia Law

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Parents of Z.B. filed suit alleging that DCPS failed to offer Z.B. a fourth grade education appropriate to her needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that DCPS complied with the IDEA in offering Z.B. the 2015 individualized education program (IEP), but remanded for the determination as to whether it did so when it offered her the 2014 IEP. In this case, it remained unclear whether and how DCPS itself made a valid assessment of Z.B.'s needs before it offered the 2014 IEP—and so whether that IEP was adequate. The court explained that the issue was whether each of the IEPs that was proffered was adequate at the time, not that it was the parents' burden to show that any possible placement in DCPS was not a viable option or would not have worked. View "Z. B. v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The circuit court violated the requirements of W.Va. Code 62-12-11 by imposing a second five-year probationary period upon Petitioner. Petitioner was convicted of petit larceny and received a five-year probationary period. The initial probation period commenced on March 24, 2011. On February 10, 2016, approximately one month before Petitioner’s five-year probation period was set to expire, the State filed a motion to revoke probation, contending that Petitioner had failed to make his required restitution payments. Petitioner admitted to the violation. The circuit court subsequently revoked Petitioner’s probation by order dated March 16, 2016 and imposed a second five-year probation period. Petitioner argued that the circuit court had violated section 62-12-11 by extending his probation beyond the original five-year period. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the restrictions of section 62-12-11 prohibited the circuit court from imposing a second five-year probationary period. View "State v. Cookman" on Justia Law

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The court of appeals properly vacated the temporary injunctions granted by the district court forestalling the Commissioner of Education’s revocation of two open-enrollment charter schools’ charters and dismissed the schools’ suit seeking judicial review of the Commissioner’s revocation on the grounds that sovereign immunity barred the schools’ claims. In their petitions for judicial review, the two open-enrollment schools challenged the validity of the Commissioner’s decision to revoke their respective charters, raising both constitutional and ultra vires complaints. The district court issued two orders temporarily enjoining the Commissioner from proceeding with the revocations. The court of appeals vacated the temporary injunctions and dismissed the schools’ underlying claims, concluding that all claims were barred by sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the enabling statutes precluded judicial review of the Commissioner’s executive decisions at issue here, and no basis otherwise existed to invoke the district court’s inherent authority. View "Honors Academy, Inc. v. Texas Education Agency" on Justia Law