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Parents of C.J. filed suit under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), alleging that the school district failed to provide him with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the school district and rejected parents' claim that the school district's refusal to provide Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services denied C.J. a FAPE where parents could not meaningfully claim that C.J.'s individualized education plan (IEP) was predetermined; the district court did not clearly err by finding that sufficient notice of C.J.'s eligibility for summer school classes was provided; in light of the facts, the school district did not deny C.J. a FAPE by failing to protect him from bullying; and C.J.'s transition plan did not deny him a FAPE. View "Renee J. v. Houston Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Southwestern Community College District (District) and its governing board (Board) (together Southwestern) demoted Arlie Ricasa from an academic administrator position to a faculty position on the grounds of moral turpitude, immoral conduct, and unfitness to serve in her then-current role. While employed by Southwestern as the director of Student Development and Health Services (DSD), Ricasa also served as an elected board member of a separate entity, the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD). The largest number of incoming District students were from SUHSD, and the community viewed the school districts as having significant ties. As a SUHSD board member, Ricasa voted on million-dollar vendor contracts to construction companies, such as Seville Group, Inc. (SGI) and Gilbane Construction Company, who ultimately co-managed a bond project for the SUHSD. Before and after SGI received this contract, Ricasa went to dinners with SGI members that she did not disclose on her Form 700. Ricasa's daughter also received a scholarship from SGI to attend a student leadership conference that Ricasa did not report on her "Form 700." In December 2013, Ricasa pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of violating the Political Reform Act, which prohibited board members of local agencies from receiving gifts from a single source in excess of $420. Ricasa filed two petitions for writs of administrative mandamus in the trial court seeking, among other things, to set aside the demotion and reinstate her as an academic administrator. Ricasa appealed the denial of her petitions, arguing the demotion occurred in violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act (the Brown Act) because Southwestern failed to provide her with 24 hours' notice of the hearing at which it heard charges against her, as required by Government Code section 54957. Alternatively, she argued the demotion was unconstitutional because no nexus existed between her alleged misconduct and her fitness to serve as academic administrator. Southwestern also appealed, arguing that the trial court made two legal errors when it: (1) held that Southwestern was required to give 24-hour notice under the Brown Act prior to conducting a closed session at which it voted to initiate disciplinary proceedings, and (2) enjoined Southwestern from committing future Brown Act violations. The Court of Appeal concluded Southwestern did not violate the Brown Act, and that substantial evidence supported Ricasa's demotion. However, the Court reversed that part of the judgment enjoining Southwestern from future Brown Act violations. View "Ricasa v. Office of Admin. Hearings" on Justia Law

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Believing that the decision to stop paying teachers for English Learning Acquisition (ELA) training violated a series of the parties’ Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs), the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) pursued a grievance against the District that was referred to nonbinding arbitration and resulted in a recommendation in favor of the DCTA. Because the District declined to adopt that recommendation, however, the DCTA brought this suit asserting a breach-of-contract claim against the District. The trial court ruled that the relevant provisions of the CBAs were ambiguous and that their interpretation was, therefore, an issue of fact for the jury. The jury, in turn, found the District liable for breach of contract and awarded damages to the DCTA. A division of the court of appeal subsequently affirmed the judgment of the trial court. After its review, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded interpretation of the CBAs was properly submitted as an issue of fact to the jury because the CBAs were ambiguous regarding payment for ELA training. “[B]ecause the CBAs are fairly susceptible to being interpreted as expressly requiring compensation for ELA training, we cannot conclude that the management rights clause includes the right to refuse to pay for ELA training.” View "School Dist. No. 1 v. Denver Classroom Teachers Ass'n" on Justia Law

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When a student accused of sexual misconduct faces severe disciplinary sanctions, and the credibility of witnesses (whether the accusing student, other witnesses, or both) is central to the adjudication of the allegation, fundamental fairness requires, at a minimum, that the university provide a mechanism by which the accused may cross–examine those witnesses, directly or indirectly, at a hearing in which the witnesses appear in person or by other means (such as means provided by technology like videoconferencing) before a neutral adjudicator with the power independently to find facts and make credibility assessments. A former USC undergraduate student appealed the trial court's denial of his petition for writ of administrative mandate seeking to set aside his expulsion. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that, although the student failed to meet his burden of proving that defendants were actually biased against him, USC's disciplinary procedure failed to provide the student with a fair hearing. In this case, USC's disciplinary review process failed to provide fundamental fairness protections after it expelled the student based on allegations of nonconsensual sexual misconduct. View "Doe v. Allee" on Justia Law

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At age six, J.C. was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which affects the digestive tract and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. J.C.’s school performance was generally strong through sixth grade; he did not have significant behavioral difficulties. From seventh grade onward, J.C. maintained grades just above a failing mark and had numerous disciplinary incidents. By tenth grade, J.C. was absent more than 30% of the time. In 2013, Cumberland accommodated his needs to sometimes sit out physical education classes and to leave class to use the bathroom. In 2014, following a serious disciplinary incident, Cumberland adopted a Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701, Section 504 Service Plan for J.C., providing for extra time to complete assignments and for class notes in case of frequent absences. After J.C.’s doctor stated that he should receive homebound instruction, Cumberland tried to implement that accommodation but J.C. was rarely present at home and was not cooperative. The district expelled J.C.; its psychologist’s evaluation concluded that J.C. did not have a “qualifying disability” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400. J.C.’s independent educational evaluation reached the opposite conclusion, identifying specific learning disabilities. J.C. moved to another school district. The district court reversed the Hearing Officer. The Third Circuit affirmed. J.C. was eligible under the IDEA, Cumberland had violated its duty to identify students with disabilities, and Cumberland violated Section 504 by failing to evaluate J.C.earlier. In seeing Crohn’s as something requiring only a Section 504 accommodation, not IDEA special education, Cumberland treated the disease as something discrete and isolated rather than the defining condition of J.C.’s life. View "Culley v. Cumberland Valley School District" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the school district in an action under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The court held that, where parents refuse special education services for their child under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and bring suit under another act, they must first exhaust their administrative remedies under the IDEA if the relief they seek in the suit is also available under the IDEA. Therefore, because plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies under the IDEA in this case, the school district was entitled to summary judgment. View "E. D. v. Palmyra R-I School District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Relator to compel Kent State University to comply with her records request under Ohio Rev. Code 149.43, holding that Relator was not entitled to additional records beyond those that she had already received pursuant to her request. After Kent State responded to Relator’s records request, Relator filed this mandamus complaint. Following the complaint, Kent State provided additional records. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that Kent State did not fail to uphold its duties under section 149.43. The Court granted Relator an award of statutory damages in the amount of $1,000 and granted Relator’s request for reasonable attorney fees but denied her request for court costs. View "State ex rel. Kesterson v. Kent State University" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Relator seeking to compel Kent State University with certain records regarding student-athletes under the Public Records Act, Ohio Rev. Code 149.43, holding that Relator failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that Kent State failed fully to respond to her records request. Kent State provided several hundred pages of records in response to Relator’s records request. Relator later filed her mandamus complaint alleging that Kent State failed fully to respond to her request. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) despite Kent State’s failure fro comply with Relator’s request within a reasonable period of time, Kent State’s eventual production of all the requested records rendered Relator’s mandamus claim moot; and (2) Relator was entitled to $1,000 in statutory damages and reasonable attorney fees but was not entitled to an award of court costs. View "State ex rel. Kesterson v. Kent State University" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-appellants San Diego Unified School District, Clovis Unified School District, Poway Unified School District, San Jose Unified School District, Newport-Mesa Unified School District, and Grossmont Union High School District (the Districts) appealed an order sustaining without leave to amend the demurrer of defendant-respondent State Controller Betty Yee (the Controller) to the Districts' first amended petition for writ of mandate and complaint. The Districts had challenged the Controller's reduction the reimbursement of monies from state funds to the Districts, but the trial court ruled the action was barred by the 90-day statute of limitations set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 341.5. The trial court implicitly found the action was one "challenging the constitutionality of any statute relating to state funding for . . . school districts" within the meaning of section 341.5. The Districts argued on appeal that under its plain language, section 341.5 did not apply because, among other reasons, their challenge involved subvention, not state funding; the dispute was focused on the Controller's actions, not the constitutionality of the statutes under which the Controller acted; and their challenge was not a facial challenge subject to section 341.5. The Court of Appeal rejected these contentions, and concluded section 341.5 applied to the Districts' action, the gravamen of which was a challenge to the constitutional validity of the statued providing one-time general state funding for school districts. View "San Diego Unified School Dist. v. Yee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the superior court’s order dismissing this complaint under N.C. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), holding that the State, and not a board of county commissioners, is solely responsible for preserving the right of every child in North Carolina to receive a sound basic education pursuant to the North Carolina Constitution. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant’s continued support and maintenance of a tripartite school district system and its refusal to manage and distribute resources efficiently among the school districts resulted in Defendant’s failure to provide the students of Halifax County an opportunity to receive a sound basic education. The trial court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that a board of county commissioners is absolved of any constitutional duty to provide its students the opportunity to receive a sound basic education. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, along with the State, a board of county commissioners is not required to provide the opportunity for North Carolina children to receive a sound basic education. View "Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law