Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the school district in an action brought by a parent, alleging that the school district violated his First Amendment rights by imposing a "Communication Plan," limiting his communications with school district employees regarding his daughters' education. The panel held that the Communication Plan did not violate plaintiff's First Amendment rights even if it restricted his speech; plaintiff failed to explain how the Communication Plan imposed unreasonable restrictions on his ability to share his concerns about his daughters' educational needs or any other topic; the Communication Plan addressed the manner in which plaintiff communicated with the school district – not the content of his speech or any viewpoints he wished to convey; and thus the panel agreed with the district court that the Communication Plan was a reasonable effort to manage a parent's relentless and unproductive communications with school district staff. View "L. F. v. Lake Washington School District #414" on Justia Law

by
Two former players for the St. Marys (Ohio) Memorial High School Football Team brought claims for federal Title IX violations and state-law intentional infliction of emotional distress against their coach, Frye. The players claim that Frye harassed them by using numerous derogatory terms—most notably, the term “pussy”—with the intent to insult (and presumably to motivate) the two in front of their teammates. The plaintiffs also sued the school board, superintendent, and athletic director for failing to address Frye’s conduct. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. As a matter of decency, Frye’s conduct was distasteful and offensive to many but as a matter of law, his conduct did not constitute sex-based discrimination, in violation of Title IX, nor was it conduct intolerable in a civilized society, in violation of Ohio tort law. Frye did not make sexual advances or act out of sexual desire. Frye was not motivated by general hostility to the presence of men. Frye did not treat men and women differently in a mixed-sex environment. View "Lininger v. St. Marys City School District Board of Education" on Justia Law

by
Barnes works in facilities management at UIC, reporting to Donovan. UIC hired Barnes in 2008 as an operating engineer and later promoted him to assistant chief engineer. In 2015, a chief engineer retired. UIC identified 11 candidates, including Barnes, who received one of the top-three exam scores and met the minimum qualifications. Barnes and another candidate were African-American; nine candidates were white. Donavan interviewed the candidates without looking at personnel files or performance evaluations. Donovan selected Civito. Civito and Barnes both have several decades of education and relevant experience. Donovan had interviewed Barnes for 15-30 minutes. Barnes did not bring anything with him to the interview, nor had he been asked to. Donovan interviewed Civito for about 20 minutes. Civito, unprompted, brought written materials including his résumé, a letter of reference, a proposal to solve problems with a UIC building, and training items he developed. Barnes sued, alleging that UIC had a practice of not promoting African-Americans to the chief engineer level. Barnes learned during discovery that in performance reviews by the same supervisor, he had received a higher score than Civito. Donovan claimed that he selected Civito because he came to his interview fully prepared,, articulated the most thoughtful approach to the position and demonstrated a commitment to professional development. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants. Barnes lacked sufficient evidence to support a prima facie case of discrimination or to allow the inference that the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason offered for hiring Civito was pretextual. View "Barnes v. Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois" on Justia Law

by
In deciding whether the Legislature's enactment of two statutes requiring a portion of state funding provided annually to local education agencies to be used prospectively as "offsetting revenues" under Cal. Gov't Code 17557(d)(2)(B) was constitutional the Supreme Court held that the method chosen by the Legislature to pay for two existing state reimbursement mandates did not on its face violate the state Constitution. In 2010, during a period of economic recession, the Legislature enacted the two statutes at issue in this case to satisfy the two mandates. The statutes designated previously non-mandate education funding as restricted funding at the beginning of the next fiscal year to satisfy the state's obligation to reimburse school districts for the two mandates. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief alleging that the two statutes violate the Constitution. The superior court denied the petition, and the court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that mandate reimbursement as provided by the statutes does not violate the Constitution. View "California School Boards Ass'n v. State" on Justia Law

by
Real party in interest filed suit against the school district and two individuals for, inter alia, retaliation in violation of the Reporting by School Employees of Improper Governmental Activities Act. The trial court subsequently denied the school district's motion to strike the punitive damages allegations from the complaint and held that the Act supersedes Government Code section 818. The Court of Appeal held that Government Code section 818 prohibits the imposition of punitive damages against school districts sued under the Act, and the trial court therefore erred in denying the motion to strike the punitive damage allegations as to the school district from the complaint. Accordingly, the court directed the trial court to strike the punitive damage allegations as to the school district from the complaint. View "Visalia Unified School District v. Superior Court of Tulare County" on Justia Law

by
A group of students who worked part-time for the University of Chicago Libraries wanted to collectively bargain with their university employer. The University believed the student group was ineligible for collective bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 157, and wanted to introduce evidence to support this argument at a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board. The evidence was intended to support its claim that the students are temporary employees who do not manifest an interest in their employment terms and conditions that is sufficient to warrant collective-bargaining representation. The Board determined that the University’s proposed evidence would not sustain the University’s position that the students were ineligible for collective bargaining and did not admit the University’s evidence. The Seventh Circuit granted a petition for enforcement of the Board’s order requiring the University to bargain with the group. The Board’s refusal to admit the University’s evidence was not an abuse of discretion and did not violate the University’s due process rights. Under prevailing Board law, short-term student employees may collectively bargain; the Board was not obliged to receive evidence to support a position that is unsustainable under prevailing Board law. View "University of Chicago v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
Conn. Genn. Stat. 4‐183(c) supplies an "explicit time limitation" of forty‐five days for appeals of final agency decisions under section 1415(i)(2)(B) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint under the IDEA as time-barred. In this case, plaintiffs waited ninety days to commence their action and thus the district court properly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case. View "P.M.B. v. Ridgefield Board of Education" on Justia Law

by
Vianney appealed the district court's summary judgment rulings on their Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) claims, Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Missouri RFRA) claim; and inverse condemnation claim under Missouri's Constitution. The Eighth Circuit affirmed as to the RLUIPA claims, holding that the city's lighting and sound regulations did not substantially burden, rather than merely inconvenienced, Vianney's religious exercise. In this case, Vianney has not demonstrated that a requirement that it avail itself of alternatives would substantially burden its religious exercise, and the record demonstrated that Vianney was not treated less favorably than other schools. The court also affirmed as to the inverse condemnation claim, holding that Missouri courts have held that the reasonable exercise of a city's police power does not constitute a taking and the regulations here did not impose unusually restrictive limitations. However, the court vacated as to the Missouri RFRA claim, because the district court abused its discretion in deciding this state law claim on the merits after granting the city summary judgment on the RLUIPA claims. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court with instructions to dismiss the claim without prejudice. View "Marianist Province of the U.S. v. City of Kirkwood" on Justia Law

by
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (Physicians Committee) filed a petition for writ of mandate seeking to prohibit local educational agencies Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Poway Unified School District (PUSD) from serving processed meats in their schools, and directing them to modify wellness policies to reflect the goal of reducing or eliminating processed meats. The local educational agencies demurred, arguing they were under no statutory obligation to reduce or eliminate processed meat from schools. The trial court granted the demurrers. Physicians Committee appealed, contending the local educational agencies' failure to reduce or eliminate processed meat from schools abused their discretion in developing statutorily-mandated, local wellness policies. After review, the Court of Appeal disagreed and affirmed the judgment. View "Physicians Com. for Responsible etc. v. L.A. Unified School Dist." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, four female students each reported sexual assault to the campus police and authorities. The plaintiffs contend that the administration’s response was inadequate, caused them physical and emotional harm, and consequently denied them educational opportunities. They sued, claiming violations of Title IX, Due Process and Equal Protection under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and Michigan law. The district court dismissed all but three claims under Title IX and one section 1983 claim. The Sixth Circuit remanded for dismissal of those claims. A victim of “student-on-student sexual harassment” has a private cause of action against the school under Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 1681, if the harassment was “pervasive” and the school’s response “caused” the injury. A student-victim must plead, and ultimately prove, that the school had actual knowledge of actionable sexual harassment and that the school’s deliberate indifference to it resulted in further actionable sexual harassment against the student-victim, which caused the Title IX injuries. A student-victim’s subjective dissatisfaction with the school’s response is immaterial to whether the school’s response caused the claimed Title IX violation. Because none of the plaintiffs suffered any actionable sexual harassment after the school’s response, they did not suffer “pervasive” sexual harassment and cannot meet the causation element. The court also held that the individual defendant is entitled to qualified immunity. View "Kollaritsch v. Michigan State University Board of Trustees" on Justia Law