Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

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The Rye School District (District) appealed a New Hampshire State Board of Education (State Board) decision that overturned a Rye School Board (School Board) decision. The School Board denied C.B. and E.B.'s (Parents) request to reassign their child (Student) to a school in another district pursuant to RSA 193:3 (2018) (amended 2020). According to the testimony of Student’s mother (Mother), Student had a growth hormone deficiency that hindered her physical growth and caused Student to fall behind academically and socially. Due to Student’s small size, she was often picked up and carried by other pupils, and assaulted. Parents met with the Rye Elementary School principal, but a bullying report was not filed. The school responded to this incident and a subsequent incident by promising to keep Student and the other child apart. At the start of fifth grade, Mother first requested Student's reassignment, alleging the principal did not understand Student’s 504 plan and was not aware of Student’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety issues. Mother requested an Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting, but the school believed that such a meeting was not necessary because the 504 plan could meet Student’s needs. During that academic year, Student was again assaulted by a peer, had issues with anxiety, and was not gaining weight. Sometime before the end of the 2016-2017 school year, Parents decided to withdraw Student from Rye Elementary School and enroll her in an elementary school in a different town. According to Mother, the new school was following the 504 plan and Student no longer needed help with homework. Student’s anxiety decreased and she was gaining weight. In addition, according to Mother, there had been no bullying at Student’s new school. A School Board hearing officer concluded Parents “failed to demonstrate that attendance at the Rye School had a detrimental or negative effect on the Student” and that “[t]here was no basis for reassignment due to Manifest Educational Hardship,” but that was overturned by the State Board. After review of the State Board's record, the New Hampshire Supreme Court determined the District failed to show the State Board's decision was "clearly unreasonable or unlawful," and affirmed its decision. View "Appeal of Rye School District" on Justia Law

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In this lawsuit brought by the Attorney General against the Arizona Board of Regents challenging certain tuition policies, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court dismissing the action, holding that the Attorney General was not authorized to proceed with its first set of claims but that the trial court erred by granting the motion to dismiss the latter challenge.The Attorney General alleged that the Board's tuition-setting policies violate Ariz. Const. art. XI, 6 and that subsidizing in-state tuition for students who are not lawfully present constitutes an unlawful expenditure of public funds. The trial court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the Attorney General lacked authority to bring it. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's decision, holding (1) Ariz. Rev. Stat. 35-212 did not provide a basis for counts I-V, and therefore, the trial court properly dismissed those claims for lack of authority on the part of the Attorney General to prosecute them; and (2) the trial court erred in dismissing count VI because the Attorney General was entitled to prove that, in providing in-state tuition on behalf of students were not not lawfully present, the Board illegally expended funds beyond the amount of tuition collected. View "State ex rel. Brnovich v. Arizona Board of Regents" on Justia Law

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On November 18, 2020, in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases, Kentucky Governor Beshear issued Executive Order 2020-969, prohibiting in-person instruction at all public and private elementary and secondary schools; elementary schools may, under certain circumstances, reopen for in-person instruction between December 7 and January 4, 2021; middle and high schools may reopen for in-person instruction no sooner than January 4, 2021. The order exempts “small group in-person targeted services” and “private schools conducted in a home solely for members of that household,” and exempts, by omission, preschools and colleges or universities. Kentucky “leads the nation in children living with relatives other than their parents – including grandparents and great-grandparents, who are especially vulnerable” and have high rates of comorbidities that can lead to severe cases of COVID-19, including heart and lung conditions.”In a challenge under the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment and the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the district court enjoined the Governor from enforcing the order against any private, religious school that otherwise adheres to Kentucky public health measures. The Sixth Circuit granted the Governor’s motion to stay the order pending appeal, stating that the plaintiffs are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their Free Exercise claim. The order is neutral and of general applicability. The court distinguished recent Supreme Court rulings concerning religious institutions. View "Danville Christian Academy Inc. v. Beshear" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal without prejudice of T.B.'s discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The court held, on the record before it, that T.B. seeks redress for denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and thus, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), he was required to exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing this claim to the district court. Because he has failed to do so, his complaint was properly dismissed. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying T.B.'s motion to reconsider or request to amend. View "T. B. v. Northwest Independent School District" on Justia Law

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The court of appeal upheld the dismissal of a claim against a school district under the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civ. Code 51), A school district is not a business establishment and cannot be sued under the Unruh Act even where, as in this case, the alleged discriminatory conduct is actionable under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. 12101).The California Supreme Court has not considered whether a government entity, specifically an agent of the state performing a state constitutional obligation is a business establishment within the meaning of the Act. The court of appeal examined the historical genesis of the Act and the Act’s limited legislative history. Public school districts are, nonetheless, subject to stringent anti-discrimination laws set forth in the Education Code and the comprehensive anti-discrimination provisions set forth in the Government Code and applicable to all government entities, as well as federal constitutional mandates (actionable under 42 U.S.C. 1983), and statutes such as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681), Title II of the ADA (42 U.S.C. 12131), and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794). View "Brennon B. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA) had associational standing to bring its claims against the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Board of Overseers (collectively, Harvard) and that Harvard's race-conscious undergraduate admissions program does not violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.In its suit, SFFA alleged that Harvard's race-conscious admissions processed violated Title VI by discriminating against Asian American applicants in favor of white applicants. SFFA sought a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, attorneys' fees and costs. The district court denied Harvard's motion to dismiss for lack of standing and then found that Harvard had met its burden of showing its admissions process did not violate Title VI. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) SFFA had associational standing to bring its claims; and (2) under governing Supreme Court law, Harvard's admissions program does not violate Title VI. View "Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College" on Justia Law

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After Drake University and its Board of Trustees expelled plaintiff for sexually assaulting a female student, plaintiff filed suit for violations of Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities (ADA), as well as claims related to breach of contract. On appeal, plaintiff challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment on his Title IX claim based on an erroneous outcome theory, his ADA claim, and his breach of implied duty of good faith and promissory estoppel claims.After determining that the court had jurisdiction to review plaintiff's appeal, the court held that there is no genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether being male was a motivating factor for plaintiff's expulsion from Drake; Drake's Code of Student Conduct and Policy on Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct processes, although not equivalent to those provided in nonacademic settings, are not reflective of gender bias, either in statement or in application; the hearing panel did not reach decisions contrary to the weight of the evidence; and the pressure that was being put on Drake to investigate and adjudicate Title IX complaints by females against males does not appear to have approached that described in Doe v. University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, 974 F.3d at 865, nor was it combined with the clearly irregular investigative and adjudicative processes that were found to support a prima facie claim of sex discrimination in Doe v. Columbia University, 831 F.3d at 56-57, and in Menaker v. Hofstra University, 935 F.3d 20, 35 (2nd Cir. 2019).The court rejected plaintiff's ADA claim and affirmed the district court's ruling that no genuine issue of material fact existed regarding plaintiff's need for accommodations. Finally, the court held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on plaintiff's claims for breach of implied duty of good faith and promissory estoppel. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Drake and remanded with instructions to dismiss with prejudice the claims that had previously been dismissed without prejudice by stipulation. View "Rossley v. Drake University" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals finding that Ohio Rev. Code 3319.321(B), a provision of the Ohio Student Privacy Act (OSPA), prohibits disclosure of records pertaining to a deceased former public-school student in response to a public-records request, holding that the OSPA unambiguously forbids disclosure of the requested records.Appellants each submitted a public-records request to the school district of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools (the school district) requesting school records related to Connor Betts, who killed nine people in a mass shooting in Dayton. Betts was a graduate of a high school that was part of the school district. When the school district denied the requests Appellants filed this action for a writ of mandamus, arguing that they had a clear legal right to inspect Betts's records under Ohio Rev. Code 149.43(B). The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 3319.321(B) prohibits the disclosure of the records sought by Appellants. View "State ex rel. Cable News Network, Inc. v. Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools" on Justia Law

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Ryan, a tenured professor of journalism at the University of Kentucky, was accused of misusing department resources to make a larger profit off a textbook he had authored. He was asked to resign but refused to do so. Ryan brought suit alleging that the defendants retaliated against him for asserting his due process and First Amendment rights after he refused to resign.The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Ryan’s claim. Ryan’s due process rights were not violated; a faculty committee conducted an investigation into his conduct and made its recommendation not to terminate Ryan’s employment. A statement to the press by the University’s provost was not sufficiently chilling that it would deter a person of ordinary firmness from refusing to resign, and cannot be considered retaliation. Ryan failed to state a claim for First Amendment retaliation because the facts alleged do not implicate a matter of public concern. Furthermore, because Ryan failed to allege a violation of a clearly established constitutional right, he is not able to overcome qualified immunity. View "Ryan v. Blackwell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Terri Baker appealed the dismissal of this putative class action for lack of standing. She sued on behalf of herself and her son, S.F.B., to challenge Kansas laws and school district policies that: (1) required children to be vaccinated to attend school and participate in child care programs; and (2) provided a religious exemption from these requirements. She claimed these immunization laws and policies violated various federal and state constitutional provisions and statutes. Baker argued she and S.F.B. had standing because the immunization requirements and religious exemptions injured them in two ways: (1) the District misapplied Kansas law when it granted a religious exemption for S.F.B. to attend preschool despite being unvaccinated - her fear that the District would revoke S.F.B.'s religious exemption was an injury in fact that established standing; and (2) Baker "would like the option" of placing S.F.B. in a non-accredited private school (i.e., home school), school programs, or licensed child care - she contended Kansas law inhibited her from exercising these options and caused an injury in fact because she would be unable to secure a religious exemption for S.F.B. if she tried. Finding no reversible error in the district court's dismissal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Baker v. USD 229 Blue Valley" on Justia Law