Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court denying a request for declaratory and injunctive relief to bar enforcement of the Franklin County School Board's policy requiring parents to provide a birth certificate and proof of residence in the county for any child who is homeschooled, holding that the policy was contrary to the Homeschool Statute, Va. Code 22.1-254.1. In denying declaratory and injunctive relief the circuit court found that the board's policy was not contrary to the Code, was not ultra vires, and addressed the "valid public policy of ensuring the children monitored by [the Board] are between the ages of five (5) and eighteen (18) and are residents of Franklin County." The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board did not have authority to adopt the policy pursuant to section 22.1-78 because that statute only allows school boards to adopt regulations for the supervision of public schools, not home instruction. View "Sosebee v. Franklin County School Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing with prejudice Transparent GMU's petition for writ of mandamus seeking to obtain donor information under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA), Va. Code 2.2-3700 et seq., from George Mason University (GMU) and the George Mason University Foundation, Inc. (the Foundation), holding that the Foundation's records were not subject to disclosure under VFOIA. Transparent filed VFOIA requests with GMU and the Foundation seeking records of grants and donations involving contributions to or for GMU from any of several charitable foundations. The Foundation, a privately held corporation established the raise funds and manage donations given for the benefit of GMU, responded that it was not a public body and its records were not public records subject to VFOIA. Transparent filed a petition for mandamus relief. The circuit court found that the Foundation was not a public body under VFOIA and dismissed the petition with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the Foundation was not a public body subject to VFOIA. View "Transparent GMU v. George Mason University" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing a school board's disciplinary proceedings against S.C., a high school student, with prejudice, holding that the circuit court misapplied the governing legal standards and misinterpreted the factual record of the disciplinary proceedings. The Fairfax County School Board disciplined S.C. for nonconsensual, sexual touching of three students at school. The circuit court dismissed the disciplinary proceedings, finding that the school board's decision was arbitrary, in violation of S.C.'s due process rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, applying the "intensely practical" principles of due process applicable to school disciplinary proceedings, nothing in the record suggested that the school board acted arbitrarily in violation of S.C.'s due process rights. View "Fairfax County School Board v. S.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court finding that George Mason University’s (GMU) decision to deny Maheen Malik’s tuition reclassification was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law, holding that there was no support for Malik’s assertion that GMU’s decision to classify her as an out-of-state student was arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise contrary to law. Malik filed a petition in the circuit court for review of GMU’s final administrative decision to deny her in-state tuition. After two hearings, the circuit court found GMU’s decision to be contrary to Virginia law and arbitrary and capricious. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court exceeded the scope of its review by reweighing the evidence and substituting its judgment for that of GMU; and (2) ample evidence supported GMU’s conclusion that Malik failed to carry her burden of proving that she was an in-state student for purposes of tuition. View "George Mason University v. Malik" 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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Plaintiffs bought this lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board seeking declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief for the allegedly unlawful expansion of the school board’s non-discrimination and student code of conduct policies. Plaintiffs included Jack Doe, a student at a public high school, who brought suit by and through his parents as next friends, and Andrea Lafferty, a citizen, taxpayer, and resident of Fairfax County. Jack Doe’s parents were citizens, taxpayers, and residents of Fairfax County. The Board filed a motion to dismiss and demurrer, arguing that Plaintiffs lacked standing. The circuit court dismissed without leave to amend, concluding (1) Andrea Lafferty and the Does individually lacked taxpayer standing, and (2) Jack Doe lacked standing because his disappointment with or anxiety or confusion over the school board’s action did not constitute a case or controversy or an adjudication of a right. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the parties failed to allege an actual controversy sufficient to bring a declaratory judgment, and therefore, they likewise may not recover the injunctive relief requested therein. View "Lafferty v. School Board of Fairfax County" on Justia Law

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In 1992, Plaintiff was convicted of a felony drug offense. In 2006, Plaintiff applied to the Fairfax County School Board for a teaching position and disclosed her prior conviction on her application. The Board subsequently hired Plaintiff as a special education teacher. In 2012, the school system’s Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources determined that, pursuant to Va. Code 22.1-296.1(A), Plaintiff’s 2006 hiring had been in error because her conviction made her ineligible for employment by the Board. The Board subsequently filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that section 22.1-296.1(A) made Plaintiff ineligible for hire. The circuit court entered an order declaring that the Board lacked authority to hire Plaintiff under section 22.1-296.1(A). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board lacked authority to make the contract, and therefore, the contract was void ab initio. View "Butler v. Fairfax County School Board" on Justia Law