Justia Education Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
Dongguk University v. Yale University
Dongguk, a prominent Korean university, filed suit against Yale claiming that Yale acted negligently and engaged in reckless and wanton conduct when responding to an inquiry about whether Jeong ah Shin had received a Ph.D. from Yale. Yale mistakenly confirmed Shin's doctoral degree and Dongguk hired Shin as an art history professor. The court concluded that Dongguk has failed to present any evidence that any individual at Yale who was responsible for publication of a defamatory statement acted with actual malice and, therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in Yale's favor on the defamation claim. The court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of Dongguk's negligence claim where Dongguk failed to demonstrate any genuine issue of material fact as to whether Yale's Associate Dean's statement caused Dongguk reputational injury, Yale Deputy General Counsel acted with actual malice when making a negligent statement, or additional harm occurred as a result of Yale's delay in correcting its misstatements. Finally, the court affirmed the dismissal of the reckless and wanton conduct claim given the absence of evidence or allegations that Yale's conduct created a risk of bodily harm to an individual at Dongguk. View "Dongguk University v. Yale University" on Justia Law
M.W. v. New York City Dep’t of Educ.
Plaintiffs filed a due-process complaint against the DOE seeking tuition reimbursement after plaintiffs enrolled their autistic child in a private school because the DOE failed to provide the child with a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. The court affirmed the state review officer's determination that the hearing record did not support the impartial hearing officer's determination that the lack of a functional behavior assessment (FBA) rose to the level of denying the child a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) where the individualized education program (IEP) addressed behavioral needs. Further, the IEP's failure to include parental counseling did not deny the child a FAPE; the SRO did not rely upon impermissible retrospection and the court deferred to her analysis; and the court found plaintiffs' remaining arguments to be without merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. View "M.W. v. New York City Dep't of Educ." on Justia Law
Summa v. Hofstra University
Plaintiff appealed an order and judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Hofstra and dismissing her suit claiming harassment and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2000e-17; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681-88; and corresponding provisions of the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), N.Y. Exec. Law 290-301. Plaintiff claimed that she experienced harassment and retaliation while employed by Hofstra as a team manager for the university's football program. Because defendants took the needed remedial action in this case, the harassment carried out by some players on the football team could not be imputed to the university or its personnel. The district court erred, however, in its analysis of the McDonnell Douglas factors by holding that plaintiff could not prevail on any of her three retaliation claims based on her supposed failure to demonstrate that she had engaged in protected activity and the requisite causation. Therefore, the court held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to withstand a grant of summary judgment with respect to her retaliation claims, but not as to her sexual harassment claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Summa v. Hofstra University" on Justia Law
Zeno v. Pine Plains Central School Dist.
Plaintiff sued the District, contending that it was deliberately indifferent to his harassment when he attended Stissing Mountain High School. A jury found the District liable for violating Title VI and awarded plaintiff $1.25 million in damages. The district court denied the District's motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50(b), but granted remittitur of the jury award to $1 million. The District appealed. The court held that there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the jury's finding that the District's responses to student harassment of plaintiff amounted to deliberate indifference to discrimination and therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the motion for judgment as a matter of law. Given the ongoing and objective offensiveness of the student-on-student harassment here, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the record could support an award of $1 million. View "Zeno v. Pine Plains Central School Dist." on Justia Law
Coollick v. Hughes
Defendant, the Superintendent of the Connecticut Technical High School System, renewed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that she was entitled to qualified immunity in this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action in which defendant was alleged to have deprived plaintiff of her right to procedural due process. The district court denied the motion after concluding that there existed a dispute of material fact as to whether plaintiff received sufficient notice before the elimination of her position as a guidance counselor at a Connecticut high school. The court held that defendant's conduct in this case, even when viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, did not violate plaintiff's clearly established rights. Therefore, defendant was entitled to qualified immunity. The court reversed and remanded. View "Coollick v. Hughes" on Justia Law
R.E. v. New York City Dept of Education; R.K. v. New York City Dept of Education; E.Z.-L v. New York City Dept of Education
The Department appealed summary judgment to R.E. and M.E. on their claim for tuition reimbursement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq, and summary judgment to R.K. on her claim for tuition reimbursement under the IDEA. Plaintiff E.Z.-L. also appealed. The court held that courts must evaluate the adequacy of an individualized educational program (IEP) prospectively as of the time of the parents' placement decision and could not consider "retrospective" testimony regarding services not listed in the IEP. However, the court rejected a rigid "four-corners rule" that would prevent a court from considering evidence explicating the written term of the IEP. In R.E., the court found that the Department offered the student a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and reversed the decision of the district court. In R.K., the court found that the Department failed to offer the student a FAPE and affirmed the decision of the district court. In E.Z.-L., the court found that the Department offered the student a FAPE and affirmed the decision of the district court. View "R.E. v. New York City Dept of Education; R.K. v. New York City Dept of Education; E.Z.-L v. New York City Dept of Education " on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Daniel Feldman v. Van Gorp
Defendants appealed from the district court's denial of their motion for judgment as a matter of law and their motion for a new trial following a jury verdict partially in favor of plaintiff on his claims regarding the misuse of a research training grant brought on behalf of the government pursuant to the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq., and awarding principally $855,714 in treble actual damages. The court concluded that: (1) where the government had provided funds for a specified good or service only to have defendant substitute a non-conforming good or service, a court could, upon a proper finding of False Claims Act liability, calculate damages to be the full amount of the grant payments made by the government after the material false statements were made; (2) there was sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could determine that the false statements at issue were material to the government's funding decision; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of inaction on the part of the NIH in response to plaintiff's complaint regarding the fellowship program in which he had been enrolled. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States ex rel. Daniel Feldman v. Van Gorp" on Justia Law
DiStiso v. Wolcott
Defendants, an elementary school principal and two teachers, appealed from a denial of summary judgment by the district court on defendants' claims that qualified immunity shielded them from suit for alleged deliberate indifference to kindergarten and first-grade students' racial harassment of a classmate in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The court affirmed the denial of summary judgment as to claims that the kindergarten teacher and the principal were deliberately indifferent to racial name-calling by kindergarten students because there were questions of disputed fact for which the district court identified sufficient record evidence to support a verdict in favor of plaintiff. The court reversed the denial, however, as to claims that defendants were deliberately indifferent to all other allegedly racially motivated physical misbehavior by kindergarten and first-grade students because no clearly established law permitted a finding that defendants had actual knowledge that commonplace physical misbehavior by children of this age was racially motivated in the absence of some objective evidence connecting the physical misbehavior to the earlier racial name-calling. Further, the first-grade teacher was entitled to qualified immunity on this claim because her transmittal of parental complaints of physical misbehavior to the principal for investigation could not be deemed "clearly unreasonable" as a matter of law. View "DiStiso v. Wolcott" on Justia Law
Bryant v. New York State Education Dept.
Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their suit for failure to state a claim and denying their motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs, parents and/or legal guardians of seven children with disabilities, sought equitable relief preventing defendants from enforcing a prohibition on the use of aversive interventions. The court concluded that the State's prohibition of one possible method of reducing the consequences of a child's behavioral disability did not undermine the child's right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) or prevent administrators from enacting an individualized plan for the child's education. The court also concluded that New York's law represented a considered judgment by the State of New York regarding the education and safety of its children that was consistent with federal education policy and the United States Constitution. View "Bryant v. New York State Education Dept." on Justia Law
Bucalo v. Shelter Island Union Free Sch. Dist.
In 1999, Bucalo, then 42 years old, applied for a position as a school librarian and was not hired; the position went to a 35-year-old man. Bucalo filed a charge of age and sex discrimination with the EEOC, which granted a right-to-sue letter, but she did not file. In 2003, the position re-opened and Bucalo, then 46, reapplied. Lanier, a new superintendent, selected interviewees; Bucalo was not among them. A committee hired a 32-year-old woman. Bucalo sued, alleging violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. 621, and retaliation for her 1999 EEOC complaint, violating the ADEA and the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e. Lanier, then suffering from a debilitating disease, executed an affidavit asserting that he had not selected Bucalo because she had worked in numerous short-term positions, evidencing “instability,” and denying that he had considered Bucalo’s age or 1999 EEOC charge. Lanier died before trial. The district court ruled in favor of the District. The Second Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that because of the death of the sole District employee with direct knowledge of the reasons she was not hired, Bucalo was entitled to judgment under the burden-shifting framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas. View "Bucalo v. Shelter Island Union Free Sch. Dist." on Justia Law