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The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's judgment in favor of DOE in a suit filed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Plaintiff, the parent of J.B., filed suit individually and on behalf of J.B., challenging J.B.'s individualized education plan (IEP). The panel held that the case was not moot; DOE violated the IDEA by failing to address transition services in the proposed IEP; DOE violated the IDEA by failing to specify in the IEP the Least Restrictive Environment during the regular and extended school year, and the IEP did not detail the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of the proposed specialized instruction in J.B.'s Science and Social Studies activities; nothing in 20 U.S.C. 1414(d) indicates that an IEP must specify the qualifications or training of service providers nor was it established in the record that DOE agreed to provide such an aide at the IEP meeting; and DOE violated the IDEA by failing to specify Applied Behavioral Analysis as a methodology in the IEP. View "R. B. v. Hawaii Department of Education" on Justia Law

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The University of Indiana South Bend employed Professor Grant, an African-American, in 1999. In 2008, several students complained to University administration that Grant inappropriately canceled classes, used obscene language in class, dismissed two students from his course without following proper procedure, and had permitted a nonemployee to grade student work and access academic records. During an investigation, Grant filed affirmative action complaints against the investigators. Students went to the South Bend Tribune with their concerns. The investigation uncovered discrepancies in Grant’s work history. The University dismissed then-tenured Professor Grant in 2011 for “serious misconduct” based on misrepresentations in his curriculum vitae. The district court rejected all of Grant’s 26 claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Grant’s claims that the University: discriminated against him on the basis of race; retaliated against him for his complaints against two University officials; denied him due process of law; defamed him in the South Bend Tribune; and breached a contract created by the University’s handbook. View "Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court directing the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to produce student growth percentile (SGP) data for certain Loudoun County Public School students under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The Supreme Court held (1) as a matter of law, SGP data constitutes teacher performance indicators; and (2) SGPs are confidential under Va. Code 22.1-295.1(C) because the information in the SGPs disclose identifiable teacher information. Therefore, the circuit court erred in ordering the production of these documents containing teachers’ identifiable information. The court remanded the issue of attorney’s fees for determination in light of the holding in favor of the VDOE on appeal. View "Virginia Education Ass’n v. Davison" on Justia Law

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Geisinger Medical Center, a private hospital that operates clinical training, partnered with Bloomsburg University, which teaches in the classroom, to establish the Nurse Anesthetist Program. Geisinger provides certificates upon completion of its clinic and Bloomsburg confers Master of Science degrees to students who complete both the coursework and the clinical component. Geisinger’s policies, including its drug and alcohol policy, apply to students participating in the clinic; drug tests “may be administered upon reasonable suspicion of substance abuse,” and any worker “who refuses to cooperate ... shall be subject to disciplinary action, including termination” without pre-termination hearing or process. Geisinger has sole authority to remove an enrollee from the clinical program. The Program's Director, a Geisinger nurse anesthetist, Richer, was a joint employee of Geisinger and Bloomsburg. Richer terminated Borrell, who had previously been a Geisinger RN, for refusing to take a drug test after another nurse reported that Borrell used cocaine and “acted erratically” on a recent trip. Richer had previously “noticed that Borrell appeared disheveled on a few occasions.” Richer claimed he acted as Director of the clinical training portion and that Bloomsburg played no part in the decision. Borrell requested, but did not receive, a formal hearing from Bloomsburg, then filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action. The Third Circuit reversed summary judgment in favor of Borrell, concluding that the defendants were not state actors. View "Borrell v. Bloomsburg University" on Justia Law

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Bible Colleges and a student sued the Illinois Board of Higher Education, alleging that the Private College Act, 110 ILCS 1005/0.01, the Academic Degree Act, 110 ILCS 1010/0.01, and the Private Business and Vocational Schools Act of 2012, 105 ILCS 426/1, violated the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Illinois constitution and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. The plaintiffs have not sought certification of approval from the state under the applicable statutes, so there is no basis to believe that the regulations would infringe on their religious beliefs or practices or would unnecessarily entangle the government in religion. The statutes are neutral laws of general application and apply equally to secular and religious institutions. While the state statutes exempt older educational institutions from the governing mandates, the law is clear that, when no improper discrimination is involved, the government may include a grandfather clause in legislation without violating the guarantee of Equal Protection. The regulations do not impact the student’s choice of career. Rather, they merely determine whether he may obtain a degree from specific post-secondary institutions. View "Illinois Bible Colleges Association v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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An educational agency does not commit a per se violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1414, by not specifying the anticipated school where special education services will be delivered within a child's individualized education program. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Department in an action brought on behalf of a student under the IDEA. The panel held that the IDEA did not require identification of the anticipated school where special education services would be delivered in light of the student's planned move to a new school district. Therefore, the student was not denied a free appropriate public education because of a purported procedural error. View "Rachel H. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii" on Justia Law

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A police officer, responding to a report of an unauthorized person at Milton High School, searched the defendant's backpack and discovered a firearm, money, and marijuana. The defendant unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the police officer lacked a constitutionally permissible basis for the pat-frisk and the subsequent search. He was convicted of carrying a firearm without a license, G.L. c. 269, 10(a); carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds, 269, 10(j); possession of a firearm without a firearm identification card, 269, 10(h); disturbing a school, 272, 40; and possession of a class D substance with intent to distribute, 94C, 32C. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court vacated, stating that when a police officer conducts a pat-frisk, the applicable standard for assessing its constitutionality is reasonable articulable suspicion under Terry v. Ohio and that an officer's conduct in a school setting is governed by the traditional Fourth Amendment standard. Applying the Terry standard to this case, the officer lacked reasonable articulable suspicion that the defendant had committed a crime and the circumstances of the encounter did not warrant a reasonable belief that the defendant was armed and dangerous. Nor was the search permissible under any exception to the warrant requirement. View "Commonwealth v. Villagran" on Justia Law

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This case involved the expulsion of then-high school student S.G. by the Henry County Board of Education (“Local Board”) as discipline for fighting on school grounds in violation of the student handbook. Specifically, she was charged with physically abusing others, and with a violation that constituted a misdemeanor under Georgia law. Following an evidentiary hearing before a disciplinary hearing officer, S.G. was expelled from Locust Grove High School, and that decision was affirmed by the Local Board. S.G. then filed an appeal to the Superior Court. After considering the evidentiary record, briefs submitted by the parties, and oral argument, the superior court reversed the State Board’s decision and ordered the Local Board to remove the disciplinary findings from the student’s record and to amend the record to reflect the student’s innocence of the disciplinary charges brought against her. That prompted the Local Board’s appeal to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the superior court’s reversal of the Local Board’s ruling. The Georgia Supreme Court granted the Local Board’s petition for writ of certiorari to examine two issues: whether the Court of Appeals opinion imposed an improper burden of proof upon local school boards with respect to a student’s self-defense claim to disciplinary charges for engaging in a fight; and whether, regardless of its burden of proof analysis, the Court of Appeals correctly determined that the Local Board improperly rejected S.G.’s self-defense claim. After its review, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals for “veering off courts in substituting its own findings of fact instead of remanding the case to the Local Board to apply the proper law to the record evidence and reach its own findings.” View "Henry Cty. Bd. of Education v. S.G." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying a high school coach's motion for a preliminary injunction that would require the District to allow him to kneel and pray on the fifty-yard line in view of students and parents immediately after football games. The panel held that the coach spoke as a public employee, not as a private citizen, and therefore declined to reach whether the district justifiably restricted his speech to avoid violating the Establishment Clause. The coach could not demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of his First Amendment retaliation claim, and was not entitled to the preliminary injunction he sought. By kneeling and praying on the fifty-yard line immediately after games, the coach was fulfilling his professional responsibility to communicate demonstratively to students and spectators, and he took advantage of his position to press his particular views upon the impressionable and captive minds before him. View "Kennedy v. Bremerton School District" on Justia Law

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E.R.'s parents and Ridley School District disputed Ridley’s obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400-1482, “individualized education program” (IEP) requirement. An IEP may require the child to be placed in a private school with reimbursement from the school district. E.R.’s parents enrolled her in a private school and sought reimbursement. The hearing officer agreed with E.R.’s parents, rendering E.R.’s private-school placement her “then-current educational placement.” The Third Circuit reversed the hearing officer. E.R.’s parents did not pursue their IEP-related claims but asked Ridley to reimburse them for their private-school expenses between the 2009 administrative decision and the 2012 conclusion of the appeal Ridley declined. E.R.’s parents sued under the IDEA’s “stay put” provision, 20 U.S.C. 1415(j), seeking reimbursement through final resolution of the dispute. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s reimbursement order. Ridley’s certiorari petition to the Supreme Court was denied in 2015; Ridley then reimbursed E.R.’s parents. They sought attorneys’ fees under 20 U.S.C. 1415(i)(3)(B)(i). The Third Circuit reversed denial of the motion. A fee award is available to parents who, after unsuccessfully challenging a school district’s proposed educational placement for their child, later obtain a court order requiring the district to reimburse them for the costs of the child’s “stay put” placement—the “then-current educational placement” in which the Act permitted the child to remain while administrative and judicial proceedings were pending. View "M. R. v. Ridley School District" on Justia Law