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Wisconsin law gives state university students rights to organize themselves and to run their governments, which have the power to spend substantial funds. Plaintiffs, the University of Wisconsin Madison (UWM) Student Association and former and current UWM students, alleged a conspiracy to interfere with student governance in violation of various rights protected by 42 U.S.C. 1983. They claim that the UWM administration excluded certain students from student government by unseating the legitimately elected officers and replacing them over several years with a supposedly “puppet” student government with a similar name, the defendant Student Association at UWM. The district court dismissed the suit with prejudice. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims against the defendants who were not timely served with process and the dismissal of a right-to-organize claim under state law. The court reversed the dismissal with prejudice of the remaining claims for misjoinder, stating that it could understand the district court’s frustration, but the remedy for misjoinder is severance or dismissal without prejudice. View "UWM Student Association v. Lovell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, five students who attend public schools in the city of Boston, failed to state a claim for relief in their complaint alleging that the charter school cap under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71, 89(i) violates the education clause and the equal protection provisions of the Massachusetts Constitution because Plaintiffs were not able to attend public charter schools of their choosing. Plaintiffs sued the Secretary of Education, the chair and members of the board of secondary and elementary education, and the Commissioner of Education seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The motion judge granted the motion, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to state a claim under either the education clause or the equal protection provisions of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs failed to allege facts suggesting not only that they had been deprived of an adequate education but that Defendants failed to fulfill their constitutionally prescribed duty to educate; and (2) there was no plausible set of facts that Plaintiffs could prove to support a conclusion that the charter school cap did not have a rational basis. View "Doe No. 1 v. Secretary of Education" on Justia Law

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Within the 2006 through 2010 tax years, the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization issued certified assessments of certain public property physically located within the boundaries of the Stroud school district. Ad valorem taxes associated with these properties were distributed by the Lincoln County Treasurer to the Cushing and Wellston districts, instead of to Stroud. The error was discovered and subsequently corrected by the Lincoln County Board of Tax Roll Corrections during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. There was no disagreement among the three school districts that they were not responsible for the errors made in the distribution of the ad valorem taxes. To recover the funds that should have been Stroud's, Stroud sued Cushing and Wellston school districts. Stroud filed its petition on April 22, 2013. The defendant school districts filed a motion for summary judgment in December of 2014. In the same month, the plaintiff responded with its own motion for summary judgment. Stroud received the taxes from the property identified as within its district; Cushing received the taxes from the property identified as within its district; and Wellston received the taxes from the property identified as within its district. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found Stroud received the same amount for its general funds that it would have received had the ad valorem taxes been properly allocated. Nevertheless, it demanded additional funds from Cushing and Wellston that it would have received if the real property had been correctly identified. The Court determined if that amount was paid to Stroud, then Cushing and Wellston would have deficits in those districts that they would not have if the real property had been correctly identified. Stroud did not believe the other two school districts are entitled to a setoff if they paid Stroud the misallocated ad valorem taxes. The Court found all three school districts were victims of this error, but no district failed to receive the funds needed for their respective districts. The Court reversed judgments against the Cushing and Wellston districts and that in favor of Stroud: "county and state officials will make mistakes in the taxing of property and the distribution of taxes." View "Independent Sch. Dist. No. 54 v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 67" on Justia Law

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Despite his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis and difficulties with organization, Connor excelled in academic programs and on standardized tests. He was admitted into a selective Magnet Program. Beginning in freshman year, the School District accommodated Connor’s ADHD with extended test time, early morning math classes, and small class sizes. Connor’s counselor offered to help Connor stay organized, but his parents declined. Connor succeeded under his section 504 Plan (Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794) through junior year. On the SAT, he scored in the 95th percentile for Reading and 98th percentile for Math. Connor’s junior-year teachers unanimously agreed that he did not need special education. Senior year, Connor amassed late and incomplete work, culminating in five failing grades, removal from the Magnet Program, and inability to graduate. His Plan had been expanded to include recording classes, access to online class notes, and reduced homework. Although the District found Connor IDEA-eligible (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400), Connor and his teachers attributed his failing grades not to his disability, but to procrastination. The family filed a Due Process Hearing Request. An ALJ ruled in favor of the District. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of section 504 and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12131, claims for noncompliance with the IDEA’s exhaustion requirement. Connor was entitled to neither an IDEA evaluation nor special education because he was not a “child with a disability.” View "Durbrow v. Cobb County School District" on Justia Law

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College of DuPage hired Breuder as its president. After extensions, his contract ran through 2019. In 2015 newly-elected members of the Board of Trustees, having campaigned on a pledge to remove Breuder, discharged him without notice or a hearing. Board resolutions stated that Breuder had committed misconduct. The Board did not offer him a hearing and refused to comply with clauses in his contract covering severance pay and retirement benefits. Breuder filed suit, citing Illinois contract and defamation law and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Board as an entity moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that Breuder never had a valid contract because, under Illinois law, a governmental body whose members serve limited terms may not enter into contracts that extend beyond those terms. Individual Board members moved to dismiss the 1983 claim on qualified immunity grounds. The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of both motions. The court noted precedent allowing Illinois Community Colleges to grant their presidents tenure beyond the date of the next board election. Rejecting claims of qualified immunity, the court noted that a hearing is required whenever the officeholder has a “legitimate claim of entitlement.” In discharging Breuder, the Board stated that he had committed misconduct. Even a person who has no property interest in a public job has a constitutional entitlement to a hearing before being defamed during a discharge, or at least a name-clearing hearing after the discharge. View "Breuder v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

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The Texas Whistleblower Act (WBA) does not apply to open-enrollment charter schools operated by a tax-exempt entity. Petitioner operated an open-enrollment charter school that provided tuition-free public education to students on multiple campuses. Respondent, a teacher for the school, sued the school for violating the WBA by retaliating against her. The trial court denied the school’s plea to the jurisdiction asserting immunity from suit. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the WBA contains no specific statement that it applies to open-enrollment charter schools, see section 12.1058(c) of the Texas Charter Schools Act, it does not apply to open-enrollment charter schools. View "Neighborhood Centers Inc. v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The Mayor of Chicago appoints the city’s Board of Education, 105 ILCS 5/34-3. Until 1995, the Mayor needed the consent of the City Council; now the Mayor acts independently. Plaintiffs claimed that the system violated the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. 10301 (section 2). School boards elsewhere in Illinois are elected; plaintiffs say that failure to elect the school board in Chicago has a disproportionate effect on minority voters. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. Section 2(a) covers any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard” that results in an abridgment of the right to vote; it does not guarantee that any given public office be filled by election rather than appointment, a civil service system, or some other means. Whether having an appointed board is “good government” or good for pupils is irrelevant to the Act. While more minority citizens live in Chicago than in other Illinois cities and do not vote for school board members, neither does anyone else. Every member of the electorate is treated identically, which is what section 2 requires. View "Quinn v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court for Regional School Unit 75 (the district) on this complaint filed by a student’s parents on his behalf under, among other things, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), holding that Plaintiffs were precluded from proving an element necessary for them to prevail on their ADA claim. The student at issue, B.P., was diagnosed with several disabilities. B.P.'s parents sought permission from the school district court to allow B.P. to carry an audio recording device at school to record almost everything said in his presence. The school district refused to permit the device, and the parents filed this lawsuit. The district court entered summary judgment for the district. While Plaintiffs’ appeal to the Court was pending, an IDEA hearing officer issued a decision rejecting Plaintiffs’ position that the recording device was required under the IDEA. Plaintiffs appealed only the dismissal of their disability discrimination claims against the district. In affirming, the First Circuit held that because of the hearing officer’s factual findings, Plaintiffs could not make the preliminary showing that the device would benefit B.P. in some manner, which was an element essential to sustaining their reasonable accommodation claim. Therefore, Plaintiffs could not prevail. View "Pollack v. Regional School Unit 75" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court for Regional School Unit 75 (the district) on this complaint filed by a student’s parents on his behalf under, among other things, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), holding that Plaintiffs were precluded from proving an element necessary for them to prevail on their ADA claim. The student at issue, B.P., was diagnosed with several disabilities. B.P.'s parents sought permission from the school district court to allow B.P. to carry an audio recording device at school to record almost everything said in his presence. The school district refused to permit the device, and the parents filed this lawsuit. The district court entered summary judgment for the district. While Plaintiffs’ appeal to the Court was pending, an IDEA hearing officer issued a decision rejecting Plaintiffs’ position that the recording device was required under the IDEA. Plaintiffs appealed only the dismissal of their disability discrimination claims against the district. In affirming, the First Circuit held that because of the hearing officer’s factual findings, Plaintiffs could not make the preliminary showing that the device would benefit B.P. in some manner, which was an element essential to sustaining their reasonable accommodation claim. Therefore, Plaintiffs could not prevail. View "Pollack v. Regional School Unit 75" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s eighteen-month sentence imposed in connection with his conviction for one count of possession with intent to distribute less than fifty grams of cocaine. Defendant pled guilty to the charge pursuant to a plea agreement with the government. At sentencing, Defendant’s counsel argued for a term of imprisonment of six months, while the government asked the court to impose a sentence of twelve months. The district court ultimately sentenced Defendant to an upwardly variant sentence of eighteen months of imprisonment. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding that it was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Rondon-Garcia" on Justia Law