Justia Education Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Rocket Learning, Inc. v. Rivera-Sanchez
This suit arose from a 2010 change to the certification and enrollment process for providers in the Commonwealth's Supplemental Educational Services program, funded under federal law. Appellant, a certified educational services provider based in Puerto Rico, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Defendant, personally and in his official capacity as Puerto Rico's Secretary of Education, alleging that the change in the certification and enrollment process unilaterally and arbitrarily disadvantaged Appellant vis-a-vis its competitors. The district court dismissed the amended complaint in its entirety, finding that it lacked sufficiently well-pled facts to support a plausible claim that Defendant had violated Appellant's due process, equal protection, or commercial free speech rights. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed on alternate grounds, holding that Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity as to all claims. View "Rocket Learning, Inc. v. Rivera-Sanchez" on Justia Law
M.v. King Philip Reg’l Sch.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400-1491, requires that students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible. Sebastian, born in 1986, has mental retardation and began receiving special education services when he was three years old. Every year the school district developed an individualized education plan for him; he has received vocational and personal care education in addition to basic academic education and has had a variety of work experiences. Although he had visual-motor and visual-spatial deficits, as well as deficits in receptive language skills, he made steady progress. When he was 20 years old, his parents became dissatisfied with his public education and placed him in a private residential facility. An administrative hearing officer determined that Sebastian's parents were not entitled to recover the costs of Sebastian's private education, and the district court affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, finding the services offered by the district adequate. View "M.v. King Philip Reg'l Sch." on Justia Law
Morales-Cruz v. Univ. of PR
UPRLS hired plaintiff as an assistant professor, with possibility of tenure after five years. During her probation, plaintiff, with a male professor, worked in the school's Legal Aid Clinic. Plaintiff's co-teacher had a sexual relationship with a student, who became pregnant as a result. Near the end of her probation, plaintiff requested a one-year extension. The dean questioned plaintiff about her knowledge of the relationship between her co-teacher and the pregnant student and chastised her for failing to report. There was no internal regulation prohibiting student-teacher relationships or mandating reporting. The Dean recommended the extension, but added comments questioning her judgment and maturity. When plaintiff learned of these comments, she wrote to the Chancellor and others, denouncing the comments. The dean reversed his position. A committee was formed and voted to deny the extension. After obtaining a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, plaintiff sued UPRLS and individuals, alleging gender-based discrimination and retaliation under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2(a), 2000e-3(a). The district court dismissed. The First Circuit affirmed. The allegations did support a reasonable inference that plaintiff was engaging in protected conduct when she opposed the dean’s remarks or that defendants’ actions were based on gender. View "Morales-Cruz v. Univ. of PR" on Justia Law
D.B., a minor v. Esposito
A disabled child, born in 1996, was a student in the Sutton public school system from 1999 until 2005, when his parent were dissatisfied with the individualized education program developed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400-1491, and the services he was receiving. They removed him from the school and enrolled him in a private learning center. The Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals determined that the 2005 IEP complied with the IDEA. The district court upheld the decision on summary judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the court could not determine compliance without first determining the child's potential for learning and self-sufficiency. The district court properly concluded that the child's potential was unknowable and that the IEP was reasonably calculated to confer educational benefits. The parents did not raise triable claims under the First Amendment, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles II and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1985; plaintiffs “cannot disguise an IDEA claim in other garb.” View "D.B., a minor v. Esposito" on Justia Law
Collins v. Univ. of NH
Plaintiff, a tenured professor at the University-defendant, was arrested by campus police and charged with stalking and disorderly conduct after unleashing an expletive-filled tirade against a colleague whom he suspected of causing him to receive a parking ticket. Plaintiff was temporarily banned from campus, removed as department head, and required to attend an anger-management class. Although the charges were later dismissed, Collins sued for false arrest, defamation, and violation of his due process rights. The district court granted judgment for the defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, first rejecting an argument that the arrest was illegal because the "violation" was civil in nature. The warrant was supported by probable cause. Suspension with pay for two months was a minimal deprivation that did not entitle plaintiff to pre-deprivation process. Plaintiff was allowed to visit campus several times during the ban and was given adequate process for the minimal deprivation of liberty. An email indicating that plaintiff's presence on campus should be reported was not defamatory. View "Collins v. Univ. of NH" on Justia Law
Santiago v. Commonwealth of PR
A six-year-old boy, with profound hearing impairment, was furnished with transportation to and from school as part of his individualized education program. The school district contracts with a private company for bus service. The boy alleged sexual abuse by a bus driver. The family sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681-1688. The district court ruled in favor of the defendants. The First Circuit affirmed. The Section 1983 claim was properly rejected because transportation to and from school is not an exclusive state function; defendants did not act under color of state law. The Title IX claim failed because it is not clear that the "appropriate person," with the authority to take disciplinary action against the bus driver, actually knew about the alleged harassment and exhibited deliberate indifference toward it.View "Santiago v. Commonwealth of PR" on Justia Law
Doe v. Newburyport MA Public Sch.
The family owned property and lived in Newburyport, but enrolled their son in school in Stamford, Connecticut during the 2008-2009 school year. His mother rented an apartment in Connecticut and on weekends returned to a Newburyport. The family gave up the Newburyport residence and moved to Connecticut in fall, 2009. The First Circuit vacated rulings in favor of the school district under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400-1482, which requires an education authority to provide an Individualized Education Plan for the benefit of any child with a disability. The district court misread the claims as moot. The claims are fairly read as saying that a procedural inadequacy, untimeliness, compromised plaintiffs' son's right to a guaranteed education. Newburyport had no obligation to draft a 2009 IEP for a nonresident, but the parents sought tuition reimbursement for the 2008-09 school year. View "Doe v. Newburyport MA Public Sch." on Justia Law
Irizarry-Mora v. Univ. of P.R.
A Ph.D., in his late 40s, twice applied for an assistant professorship at University of Puerto Rico. A 30-year-old was ultimately hired. The district court dismissed an age discrimination action (29 U.S.C. 623(a),(d)) on the ground that the University is an arm of the state entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit in federal court. Th First Circuit affirmed, based on structural factors and the potential financial impact on state finances View "Irizarry-Mora v. Univ. of P.R." on Justia Law