Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
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Poplarville School District and Pearl River County sought to undo the July 1, 2018 consolidation of the Lumberton Public School District and the Lamar County School District. In 2016, the Mississippi Legislature adopted Senate Bill 2500, which, after being signed into law, was codified as Mississippi Code Section 37-7-104.5, the purpose of which was to administratively dissolve, consolidate, and split the Lumberton Public School District at the Lamar and Pearl River County line. The statute created the Commission on the Administrative Consolidation of the Lumberton Public Schools to work in conjunction with the Mississippi State Board of Education to accomplish the consolidation goal. However, Poplarville School District contended that instead of following the directive of Section 37-7-104.5, the Commission dissolved the Lumberton School District and consolidated all of it, to include the students who reside in Pearl River County, into the Lamar County School District. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors was a “person aggrieved” for purposes of Section 37-7-115, publication was not necessary pursuant to Section 37-7-115, and Section 37-7-115 was an exclusive remedy. Furthermore, the Court held the chancery court did not err by finding that the appeal was untimely filed pursuant to Section 37-7-115, and affirmed the chancery court's decision. View "Pearl River County Board of Supervisors v. Mississippi State Board of Education" on Justia Law

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Walter Jones appeals the order of the Circuit Court of Madison County affirming his removal as trustee of the Canton Public School District (CPSD) by the Board of Aldermen (the Board) of the City of Canton (the City). Jones argued the Board lacked the authority to remove him as a public official. Finding that the Board’s actions were prohibited by the Mississippi Constitution, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed: because the Board’s authority was based on a city ordinance inconsistent with the Mississippi Constitution and because the Board’s action violated Jones’s right to due process, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s decision to affirm the Board’s removal of Jones as school-board trustee. View "Jones v. City of Canton, Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In chancery court, Plaintiffs challenged the two sources of funding for charter schools provided for under the Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013. Plaintiffs contended the Act was unconstitutional under Article 8, Sections 206 and 208, of the Mississippi Constitution. Also, one of the charter-school intervenors maintained that Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the suit. The chancellor held that the Plaintiffs did have standing to sue and that they did not prove that either source of funding was unconstitutional. Before the Mississippi Supreme Court, Plaintiffs concentrated their argument under Article 8, Section 206, of the Mississippi Constitution, alleging that a charter school’s ad valorem funding was unconstitutional. They did not appeal the chancellor’s ruling concerning per-pupil funds. The Jackson Public School District (JPS) maintained that the chancellor erred in denying its motion to be dismissed from the suit. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court, agreeing Plaintiffs had standing to sue, and that they did not meet their burden to demonstrate that Section 37-28-55 was unconstitutional. The Court found JPS’s arguments concerning its motion to dismiss were waived on appeal for failure to raise the issue in a cross-appeal. View "Araujo v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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Following a disciplinary proceeding, Meloney Harbour’s minor son, T.D.H., was suspended from school and placed in an alternative school. The chancery court initially reversed and rendered the decision of the Tupelo Public School District Board of Trustees after finding that the deprivation of an attorney at the initial disciplinary hearing, as well as the failure to state the applicable standard of proof, violated T.D.H.’s due process rights. After a Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a) motion, the chancery court amended its judgment to remand the case instead of rendering it. Harbour then filed a Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) motion and, for the first time, challenged the constitutionality of Mississippi Code Section 37-9-71. Harbour contended the statute contained an unconstitutional standard of proof: substantial evidence rather than clear and convincing evidence. Harbour did not notice the attorney general of the constitutional challenge to the statute. Finding that Harbour failed to meet her burden under Rule 60(b), the chancery court denied the motion. Harbour then appealed that ruling. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court’s denial of the Rule 60(b) motion. View "Harbour v. Tupelo Public School District" on Justia Law

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Twenty-one public school districts claimed the Mississippi Legislature’s appropriations for public education during fiscal years 2010-2015 were statutorily inadequate. The districts contended Mississippi Code Section 37-151-6 mandated the Legislature fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), but the Legislature failed to follow this mandate. They sought judicial enforcement of this statute in Hinds County Chancery Court, requesting more than $235 million in State funds - the difference between what they received and what they claim they should have received had the Legislature fully funded MAEP. The chancellor found the school districts were not entitled to relief because he determined that Section 37-151-6 was not a binding mandate. The chancellor, therefore, ​dismissed the school districts’ claim. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court found that Section 37-151-6 was not mandatory, it affirmed. View "Clarksdale Municipal School District et al. v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Supreme Court found that Tunica County failed to meet its burden of proof that Chapter Number 920, Local and Private Laws of 2004 (“House Bill 1002”) unconstitutional or otherwise unlawful. Tunica County sought review of a Circuit Court’s summary-judgment ruling that the law, which required the County to distribute portions of a revenue based gaming fee to the Town of Tunica and the Tunica County School District, was constitutional. Specifically, the County argued: House Bill 1002 deprived it of its property interest in the casino fees without due process of law; the distributions required by House Bill 1002 constituted an unlawful donation of public funds; House Bill 1002 impermissibly suspended certain general statutes and provided improper support for a common school; alternatively, the County alleged that House Bill 1002 violated Mississippi common law and that the current Board of Supervisors could not be bound by the decisions of prior Boards to comply with the law. The County asked the circuit court to declare House Bill 1002 unconstitutional and issue an injunction against the continued enforcement of the statute. The Supreme Court concluded the County lacked standing to challenge House Bill 1002 on due process grounds; notwithstanding, the County’s argument was without merit because its authority to impose the 3.2 percent gaming fee came from the Legislature, not the constitution. The Court concluded the arguments made with respect to the other issues the County raised on appeal were without merit. The Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment, but vacated on the award of attorney’s fees. The case was remanded for a determination of whether there was a legal basis for the award of fees, and if so, whether the requested amounts were reasonable. View "Tunica County v. Town of Tunica" on Justia Law

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After a year of bullying and intimidation by a small group of students, Yahenacy Smith was beaten and severely injured while riding the school bus home. Smith sued the Leake County School District, alleging negligence and negligence per se. The circuit court found that the school district was entitled to discretionary-function immunity and granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment. Smith appealed. Finding that the broad governmental function of the school district here was ministerial, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment and remanded the case to the circuit court for Smith to proceed with her claims. View "Smith v. Leake County School District" on Justia Law

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Hattiesburg High School (“HHS”) filed a complaint for injunctive relief against the Mississippi High School Activities Association (“MHSAA”), alleging that its decision to declare one of HHS’s students ineligible to participate in athletics was arbitrary and capricious. The Forrest County Chancery Court agreed, and it vacated the penalties that MHSAA had imposed against HHS. MHSAA appealed. Because the Supreme Court found that HHS failed to state a legally cognizable claim or cause of action, we vacate the decisions of the Forrest County Chancery Court. View "Mississippi High School Activities Association, Inc., v. Hattiesburg High School" on Justia Law