Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

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A student and her parents filed suit against the Minnesota Department of Education, alleging that the school district's failure to classify the student as disabled denied her the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The ALJ concluded that the school district's treatment of the student violated the IDEA and related state special-education laws. The district court then denied the school district's motion for judgment on the administrative record and granted, in part, the student's motion for judgment on the record, modifying the award of compensatory education. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the school district's request for supplementation of the record; the school district's evaluation of the student was insufficiently informed and legally deficient; the student is eligible for special education and a state-funded FAPE like every other child with a disability; the ALJ and the district court did not err in concluding the school district had breached its obligation to identify the student by the spring of her eighth-grade year as a child eligible for special education; and the district court did not err in finding plaintiffs were entitled to recover the costs associated with comprehensive psychological evaluation, educational evaluation and private educational services. However, the court reinstated the ALJ's award of compensatory education costs. View "Independent School District No. 283 v. E.M.D.H." on Justia Law

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Doe, a student at USciences, a private Philadelphia college, had completed nearly all the coursework required to earn a degree in biomedical science when two female students accused him of violating USciences’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. After investigating, USciences concluded that Doe violated the Policy and expelled him. Doe filed suit, alleging that USciences was improperly motivated by sex when it investigated and enforced the Policy against him. Doe also asserted that USciences breached its contract with him by failing to provide him the fairness promised to students under the Policy. The district court dismissed Doe’s complaint. The Third Circuit reversed. Doe’s complaint contains plausible allegations that USciences, in its implementation and enforcement of the Policy, succumbed to pressure from the U.S. Department of Education and has “instituted solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men and treat men differently than women.” Doe claimed the school investigated him but chose not to investigate three female students who allegedly violated the Policy with respect to alcohol consumption and sex. The court analyzed the Policy’s promise of “fairness,” an undefined term, by examining federal guarantees and state case law. View "Doe v. University of the Sciences" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the validity of District of Columbia regulations that impose minimum education requirements for certain childcare providers. The district court held that the case was non-justiciable on grounds of standing, ripeness, and mootness. The DC Circuit held that the case is justiciable and remanded for the district court to consider the merits of the complaint. The court held that Plaintiff Sorcher's due process and equal protection claims are ripe for review, because she has demonstrated cognizable hardship where, in the absence of a decision in her favor, she will have to begin expending time and money in order to obtain the necessary credentials. The court also held that Plaintiff Sanchez's claims are not moot where there is no dispute that the regulations' education requirements continue to apply to her and her experience waiver is not permanent. Therefore, Sanchez retains a concrete interest in the outcome of the litigation and her case is also ripe. Likewise, Plaintiff Homan's claims are similar to Sorcher and Sanchez. View "Sanchez v. Office of the State Superintendent of Education" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was expelled from USC for committing intimate partner violence against Jane Roe, he petitioned for writ of administrative mandate to set aside the expulsion. The Court of Appeal reversed the superior court's denial of plaintiff's petition, holding that USC's disciplinary procedures at the time were unfair because they denied plaintiff a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine critical witnesses at an in-person hearing. The court explained that, at bottom, this case rests on witness credibility. Given the conflicting statements, the court could not say that the record contains such overwhelming evidence as to render harmless the errors identified in this case. Therefore, the court remanded with directions to the superior court to grant the petition for writ of administrative mandate. View "Boermeester v. Carry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that open-enrollment charter schools and their charter-holders have governmental immunity from suit and liability to the same extent as public schools and that, in this case, the open-enrollment charter school district had immunity from suit. The Burnham Wood Charter School District, which operates open-enrollment charter schools in El Paso, repudiated a lease with Amex Properties, LLC to lease certain property. Amex sued the district for anticipatory breach of the lease. The district filed a plea to the jurisdiction contending that it was immune from suit to the same extent as public school districts and that no waiver of immunity existed for Amex's claim. The trial court denied the district's jurisdictional plea, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the suit for want of jurisdiction, holding (1) open-enrollment charter schools have governmental immunity to the same extent as public schools; (2) Tex. Local Gov't Code 271 waives governmental immunity for breach of contract claims brought under the chapter; and (3) the lease in this case was not properly executed under section 271.151, and therefore, Amex's breach of contract claim was not waived under section 271.152. View "El Paso Education Initiative, Inc. v. Amex Properties, LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Board of Education of Gallup-McKinley County Schools (Gallup) successfully obtained summary judgment on certain Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) claims made by Mavis Yazzie in the administrative action below. Subsequently, Gallup sought attorneys’ fees from Yazzie and her counsel, the Native American Disability Law Center (NADLC). The question presented for the Tenth Circuit's review was whether the controlling provision of the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC) permitted Gallup to pursue attorneys’ fees within 30 days of the final decision relating to any party in the administrative action, or did the NMAC limit Gallup to seeking fees within 30 days of obtaining summary judgment, which Gallup failed to do. The Tenth Circuit concluded the plain meaning of the regulatory language permitted petitions for attorneys’ fees made within 30 days of the final decision in the administrative action regardless of whether that decision related to the party seeking fees. Accordingly, Gallup’s petition was timely. The Court therefore reversed the district court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Board of Education of Gallup v. Native American Disability Law" on Justia Law

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UK freshman Doe reported two rapes. After the first report, UK’s Title IX Office issued a no-contact order to the male student (John) and investigated. Doe reported subsequent encounters with John. The Office investigated and determined that the no-contact order had not been violated. UK denied Doe's request to ban John from a certain library area. Before the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel, Kehrwald, UK’s Dean of Students presented evidence on Doe’s behalf. Doe alleges that Kerhwald failed to adequately represent her interests, failed to object when John’s attorneys actively participated by examining and cross-examining witnesses, and did not introduce evidence of a voicemail that she left on the night of the alleged rape. John’s attorneys successfully argued against its admission. The Sexual Misconduct Appeals Board upheld a finding in John's favor. In the investigation of Doe’s allegations against “James,” the Office also issued a no-contact order but James refused to comply with a request to change his class sections and failed to appear at a hearing. James was dismissed from UK. Doe brought Title IX claims, 20 U.S.C. 1681, arguing that UK’s response caused a hostile educational environment and vulnerability to further harassment and that UK demonstrated deliberate indifference by failing to follow UK’s policies throughout the investigation and hearing. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Doe failed to show that UK’s response subjected her to further actionable harassment that caused Title IX injuries. View "Doe v. University of Kentucky" on Justia Law

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In this antitrust action, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order enjoining the NCAA from enforcing rules that restrict the education-related benefits that its member institutions may offer students who play Football Bowl Subdivision football and Division I basketball. The panel held that the district court properly applied the Rule of Reason in determining that the enjoined rules are unlawful restraints of trade under section 1 of the Sherman Act. In this case, the district court found that the NCAA's rules have significant anticompetitive effects in the relevant market for student-athletes' labor on the gridiron and the court; the district court fairly found that NCAA compensation limits preserve demand to the extent they prevent unlimited cash payments akin to professional salaries, but not insofar as they restrict certain education-related benefits; and the district court did not clearly err in determining that the less restrictive alternative would be virtually as effective in serving the procompetitive purposes of the NCAA's current rules, and may be implemented without significantly increased cost. The panel also held that the record supported the factual findings underlying the injunction and that the district court's antitrust analysis is faithful to the panel's decision in O'Bannon v. NCAA (O’Bannon II), 802 F.3d 1049 (9th Cir. 2015). View "Alston v. National Collegiate Athletic Association" on Justia Law

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After plaintiffs, the parents of students with disabilities, chose to withdraw their children from one private school and to enroll them in a new private school, they challenged the adequacy of the students' individualized education programs (IEPs). Plaintiffs also filed suit against the city under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to obtain public funding for the new school's tuition and services during the pendency of the students' IEP disputes. The Second Circuit held, on de novo review, that parents who unilaterally enroll their child in a new private school and challenge the child's IEP are not entitled to public funding for the new school during the pendency of the IEP dispute, on the basis that the educational program being offered at the new school is substantially similar to the program that was last agreed upon by the parents and the school district and was offered at the previous school. The court held that it is generally up to the school district to determine how an agreed-upon program is to be provided during the pendency of the IEP dispute. In this case, regardless of whether iBRAIN's educational program is substantially similar to that offered previously at iHOPE, the court held that the IDEA does not require the city to fund the students' program at iBRAIN during the pendency of their IEP dispute. Accordingly, the court affirmed in No. 19-1662-cv and vacated in No. 19-1813-cv, remanding with instructions. View "Ventura de Paulino v. New York City Department of Education" on Justia Law

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T.R., in the seventh grade, met with the school principal, Gill-Williams. T.R. told Gill-Williams that she had been thinking about suicide for a month, stating. that “things at home like guns and knives" made her "want to hurt herself.” Gill-Williams called a police officer assigned to the school, Olney, who called T.R.’s father, Machan. Machan, at work about 90 minutes away, objected to Olney taking T.R. to the hospital, telling Olney to keep T.R. at the school until he got there. Olney took T.R. to the hospital. An emergency-room nurse conducted a mental-health assessment and concluded that T.R. needed treatment. Although T.R. did not appear intoxicated or disoriented, the physician, Dr. Friedman, ordered a blood draw as part of the standard procedure for a mental evaluation. T.R. resisted the blood draw, which tested negative for drugs. Friedman and other medical staff talked to T.R. about her suicidal thoughts. Machan arrived. After considerable discussion, the hospital released T.R. on a condition that she go to a mental health center. Machan took T.R. there, where they stayed for about 45 minutes. Machan filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court denied Olney qualified immunity. The Sixth Circuit held that Olney was entitled to summary judgment. The existence of probable cause to fear that T.R. might hurt herself meant that Olney did not need Machan’s consent to take T.R. to the hospital. Olney did not violate the Fourth Amendment by taking T.R. to the hospital and authorizing the blood draw. View "Machan v. Olney" on Justia Law