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A Louisiana charter school did not qualify for the "political subdivision" exemption of the National Labor Relations Act and was therefore subject to the Act. In this case, petitioners challenged the NLRB's finding that petitioners, Louisiana charter school operators, committed an unfair labor practice and ordered it to recognize and bargain with the union. The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that petitioners, like most other privately controlled employers, was subject to the Act because Louisiana chose to insulate its charters from the political process. View "Voices for International Business and Education, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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K.D. attended public school in the Downingtown Area School District from preschool through the first semester of third grade. Halfway through kindergarten, Downingtown assigned an Instructional Support Team to monitor K.D.’s educational progress and give her extra support. A psychologist found that K.D. had a low-average IQ (87) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). K.D. had an individualized education program (IEP) for each school year. In third grade, K.D.’s parents became dissatisfied and obtained their own neuropsychological evaluation. In the middle of third grade, Downingtown’s team met again, changed K.D.’s goals, and added new “evidence-based” programs. Her parents withdrew K.D., placed her in private school, and sought reimbursement. Pennsylvania’s Office of Dispute Resolution found that the IEPs were adequate and that Downingtown had provided K.D. with a free appropriate public education, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Because the officer applied the Third Circuit’s meaningful-benefit test. The district court entered and the Third Circuit affirmed judgment in favor of Downington. In applying the requirement of “an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances,” courts may not “substitute [our] own notions of sound educational policy for those of the school authorities which [we] review.” View "K. D. v. Downingtown Area School District" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of attorneys' fees for plaintiff under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The court held that the hearing officer's decision did not make plaintiff a prevailing party under the IDEA and thus she was not entitled to attorneys' fees. In this case, the officer's decision effected no change to plaintiff's educational plan, which the officer agreed was entirely appropriate despite lacking a prior autism diagnosis. Furthermore, the IDEA focuses, not on a student's diagnostic label, but on whether the student received appropriate education services, which the officer found plaintiff had received from the school district. View "Lauren C. v. Lewisville Independent School District" on Justia Law

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The summary arrest, handcuffing, and police transport to the station of middle school girls was a disproportionate response to the school's need, which was dissipation of what the school officials characterized as an "ongoing feud" and "continuous argument" between the students. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to defendants based on qualified immunity and grant of summary judgment for students in an action alleging that a sheriff's deputy arrested the students on campus without probable cause in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights and state law. In this case, the deputy was invited to speak to a group of girls in school about bullying and fighting. When the girls were unresponsive and disrespectful, the deputy arrested the girls. The panel applied the two-part reasonableness test set forth in New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 333 (1985), holding that the arrests were unreasonable because they were not justified at their inception nor reasonably related in scope to the circumstances; officers were not entitled to qualified immunity because no reasonable officer could have reasonably believed that the law authorized the arrest of a group of middle schoolers in order to teach them a lesson or to prove a point; and the evidence was insufficient to create probable cause to arrest the students for violating California Penal Code 415(1) or Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code 601(a), and thus plaintiffs were entitled to summary judgment on their state false arrest claim. View "Scott v. County of San Bernardino" on Justia Law

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During her freshman and his junior year at the University of Michigan, John and Jane met at a fraternity party, drank, danced, and eventually had sex. Two days later, Roe filed a sexual misconduct complaint, claiming that she was too drunk to consent. For three months, the school’s investigator collected evidence and interviewed John, Jane, and 23 others. John stated that Jane did not appear drunk, that she was an active participant in their sexual encounter, and that he had no reason to believe that his sexual advances were unwelcome. Jane claimed that she was drunk and told Doe “no sex” before she “flopped” onto his bed. Almost all of the male witnesses corroborated John’s story; all of the female witnesses corroborated Jane’s. The investigator concluded that the evidence supporting a finding of sexual misconduct was not more convincing than the evidence offered in opposition and recommended closing the case. The Appeals Board held closed sessions (without considering new evidence or interviewing any students), and reversed, finding Jane’s narrative “more credible” and her witnesses more persuasive. Facing possible expulsion, John agreed to withdraw from the university, 13.5 credits short of graduating. The Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of John’s suit against the University. If a public university has to choose between competing narratives to resolve a case, it must give the accused student an opportunity to cross-examine the accuser and adverse witnesses in the presence of a neutral fact-finder. View "Doe v. Baum" on Justia Law

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In 2008 Indiana University hired Haynes, who is black, as an assistant professor, funding most of his salary through the Strategic Recruitment Fund, which facilitates "recruitment of underrepresented minorities and women into the professoriate.” Haynes had a six-year probationary contract. Tenure candidates are evaluated on research, teaching, and service and must be “excellent” in one area and “satisfactory” in the others. In 2013, Haynes submitted his tenure dossier, selecting research as his "excellence" performance area. The committee voted 6–3 against tenure. The dean wrote that “the committee questioned the extent of Dr. Haynes’[s] impact based on low citation numbers and low numbers of publications in high-quality journals” and that Haynes’s “evaluations ha[d] been mixed[] and particularly low in the online courses” and failed to show “significant improvement.” The university-wide Tenure Advisory Committee voted unanimously against tenure; 18 of 27 faculty members found his teaching unsatisfactory and 19 found his research not excellent. Haynes sued under the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. 1981, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the University, upholding the exclusion of Haynes’s proffered expert reports for lack of “specialized knowledge.” A plaintiff needs compelling evidence that “clear discrimination” pervasively infected the tenure decision; this case was “not a close one.” Regardless of the finer points of academic tenure and its intersection with anti-discrimination law. Haynes lacks any evidence that the University denied tenure because he is black. View "Haynes v. Indiana University" on Justia Law

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B.G. lived alternately with his mother (who speaks only Spanish) and siblings in a small apartment, and with his father, who apparently left B.G. to his own devices. He repeated first grade. B.G. was diagnosed with a specific learning disability and had significant behavior and attendance issues. B.G.’s father died in 2014. B.G was hospitalized with diagnoses of morbid obesity, hypertension, severe hypoxia syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services received a report that his mother was not able to care for her children. B.G.’s mother requested a Due Process Hearing with the State Board of Education, alleging that the Chicago Public School District had violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. The District gave B.G. an aide, moved him to a classroom with a teacher familiar with “multisensory approaches,” and performed assessments of B.G.’s educational needs. Although she did not object to the report, B.G.’s mother requested Independent Educational Evaluations at public expense in seven areas. The State Board of Education concluded that the District's evaluations were appropriate. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The hearing officer conducted a five-day hearing, heard the relevant evidence, and concluded that the District’s experts evaluated B.G. appropriately; the record shows that the District’s evaluators were competent, well-trained, and performed comprehensive evaluations. Particularly under the deferential standard of review applicable here, there is no cause to set aside the hearing officer’s well-reasoned decision. View "B.G. v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying the school's motion for summary judgment in a qui tam action brought by relators under the False Claims Act (FCA). Relators alleged that the school violated an incentive compensation ban included in its program participation agreement with the Department of Education, through which it qualified for federal funding. The panel held that a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that the school's actions met the falsity requirements in Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016). The panel held that Escobar did not overrule United States ex rel. Hendow v. Univ. of Phoenix, 461 F.3d 1166 (9th Cir. 2006), which held that, with regard to materiality, the question is whether the false certification was relevant to the government's decision to confer a benefit. The panel applied Esobar's standard of materiality and held that a reasonable trier of fact could find materiality because the DOE's payment was conditioned on compliance with the incentive compensation ban, past enforcement activities, and the substantial size of the incentive payments. Finally, the safe harbor provision was inapplicable in this case. View "US ex rel. Rose v. Stephens Institute" on Justia Law

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L.H. has Down Syndrome. Through second grade, L.H. was “mainstreamed,” i.e., educated in the standard Normal Park School setting, integrated with non-disabled grade-level peers, and taught the standard curriculum, with special supports and services. An “IEP team” comprising his parents, teachers, and staff, prepared an annual “individualized education program” (IEP). L.H. made progress academically but did not keep pace with his peers. Staff members suggested moving L.H. to a Comprehensive Development Classroom (CDC) at a different school. L.H.’s parents resisted. L.H. remained at Normal Park. Teachers reported that L.H.’s behavior became disruptive; they changed his curriculum and attempted to minimize distractions by isolating L.H. L.H.’s behavior improved but progress toward his goals did not. Over his parents’ objections, L.H.’s 2013-2014 (third grade) IEP unilaterally ordered L.H. transferred to the CDC, where the curriculum uses an online special-education program (ULS) to teach reading and math. ULS follows Common CORE standards but is not peer-reviewed nor is it tied to Tennessee’s general-education standards. The CDC had two teachers and nine students. There would be little interaction between disabled and non-disabled students. L.H.’s parents rejected the IEP and enrolled L.H. at a private school, where he has remained. They sued under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400. The district court held that placement of L.H. in the segregated classroom was more restrictive than necessary and violated the IDEA, but that the parents’ alternative placement did not satisfy the IDEA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that the CDC placement violated the IDEA, but concluded that the private placement did satisfy the IDEA, and remanded for a determination of reimbursement. The Normal Park teachers were openly unwilling to properly mainstream L.H., rather than removing him when it became challenging. View "L. H. v. Hamilton County Department of Education" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment upholding a hearing officer's decision that the school district deprived plaintiff, a high school student with a disability, of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to fulfill its Child Find duty in a timely manner. The court held that the district court did not reversibly err by concluding that taken together, the student's academic decline, hospitalization, and incidents of theft should have led the district to suspect her need for special education services by October 2014, at the latest. Therefore, the school district violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act's Child Find requirements by failing to identify, locate, and evaluate students with suspected disabilities within a reasonable time. The court also held that the student was a prevailing party entitled to attorneys' fees because she received a FAPE and thus achieved some of the benefit she sought in requesting the due process hearing. View "Krawietz v. Galveston Independent School District" on Justia Law