Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas

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At issue was whether a private university that operates a state-authorized police department is a “governmental unit” for purposes of Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 51.014(a)(8), which provides for an interlocutory appeal from an order that “grants or denies a plea to the jurisdiction by a governmental unit.” The private university in this case was the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), and the case arose from an UIW officer’s use of deadly force following a traffic stop. The parents of the UIW student killed in the incident sued UIW for their son’s death. UIW raised governmental immunity as a defense and asked the trial court to dismiss the suit in a plea to the jurisdiction. The trial court denied the plea. UIW took an interlocutory appeal under section 51.014(a)(8). The court of appeals dismissed the appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that UIW is a governmental unit for purposes of law enforcement and is therefore entitled to pursue an interlocutory appeal under section 51.014(a)(8). View "University of the Incarnate Word v. Redus" on Justia Law

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Wallace Hall, a regent for The University of Texas System, filed suit against William McRaven in his official capacity as the System’s Chancellor, for McRaven’s refusal to grant Hall complete access to records containing student-admissions information. Hall sought a declaratory judgment that McRaven acted ultra vires in refusing to provide the unredacted information. The trial court granted McRaven’s plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed the case with prejudice, concluding that McRaven’s conduct was not ultra vires and that sovereign immunity required dismissal. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that McRaven did not exceed his authority, and therefore, Hall’s case was properly dismissed. View "Hall v. McRaven" on Justia Law

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Michael and Laura McIntyre, along with their children that were homeschooled, were criminally charged with contributing to truancy and failure to attend school. The McIntyres sued the District and its attendance officer, alleging that Defendants violated the McIntyres’ rights under both the Texas Constitution and United States Constitution. The District filed pleas, exceptions, and motions arguing that the McIntyres failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The attendance officer invoked qualified immunity. The trial court denied relief. The court of appeals reversed in part and (1) dismissed the McIntyres’ state-law claims against the District and its attendance officer for the McIntyres’ failure to “exhaust their administrative remedies, and (2) dismissed the federal-law claims against the attendance officer based on qualified immunity. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals to the extent it dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims based on qualified immunity; but (2) reversed the judgment insofar as it dismissed the McIntyres’ claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, holding the Texas Education Code does not require administrative appeals when a person is allegedly aggrieved by violations of laws other than the state’s school laws, such as the state and federal Constitutions. View "McIntyre v. El Paso Indep. Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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More than half of the State’s school districts and various entities and individuals brought this school funding challenge arguing, among other things, that the current school finance system violates the adequacy and suitability requirements of Tex. Const. art. VII, 1. The trial court declared the school system constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient in violation of Article VII, section 1, that the system is unconstitutional as a statewide ad valorem tax in violation of Tex. Const. art. VIII, 1(e), and that the system does not meet constitutional adequacy and suitability requirements for two subgroups of students. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the current school funding regime meets minimum constitutional requirements, despite its imperfections. View "Morath v. Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition" on Justia Law

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Three parents of children who attend schools within the Clint Independent School District filed suit alleging that the District unconstitutionally distributes its funds among the schools within the District. The trial court dismissed the suit, concluding that the Parents failed to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing suit. The court reversed, concluding that Texas law did not require the Parents to exhaust administrative remedies because their claims were solely for violations of their children’s state constitutional rights. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Tex. Educ. Code Ann. 7.057(a) requires the Parents to exhaust their administrative remedies before they can seek relief in the courts. View "Clint Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Marquez" on Justia Law

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Middle school and high school cheerleaders, through their parents, sued Kountze Independent School District after the District prohibited them from displaying banners at school-sponsored events containing religious messages or signs. The District filed a plea to the jurisdiction, asserting mootness in light of its subsequent adoption of a resolution providing that the District was not required to prohibit religious messages on school banners. The trial court denied the District’s plea. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiffs’ claims for declaratory and injunctive relief were moot because the District voluntarily discontinued its prohibition on the display of banners containing religious messages or signs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the resolution only states that the District is not required to prohibit the cheerleaders from displaying religious messages on school banners and reserves to the District discretion in regulating those banners, this case was not moot, as the challenged conduct might reasonably be expected to recur. Remanded. View "Matthews v. Kountze Indep. Sch. Dist." on Justia Law