Justia Education Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Carver Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance v. School Board of Lake County, Florida
After a teacher at Carver Middle School submitted an application for the approval of the Carver Gay-Straight Alliance, the superintendent denied the application on the ground that the application failed to identify an allowed purpose for the club. Plaintiffs filed suit, alleging violations of their constitutional rights and the Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. 4071-72. On appeal, plaintiffs challenge the dismissal of their complaint alleging that the Board violated the Act. The court concluded that the complaint is ripe because the Board made a final decision when it rejected the application of the Alliance to form a club, and the complaint is not moot because the district court can still fashion relief for a violation of the Act. The court also concluded that the Act applies to Carver Middle School because it provides courses for high school credit and, under Florida law, these courses constitute “secondary education.” Accordingly, the court vacated the order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Carver Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance v. School Board of Lake County, Florida" on Justia Law
D. H. v. McDowell
Plaintiff, on behalf of her minor son D.H., filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against school officials, including Assistant Principal Tyrus McDowell, and others, alleging that defendants deprived D.H. of his rights to privacy, to be secure in his person, and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. On appeal, McDowell challenged the district court’s interlocutory order denying his motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The district court found that McDowell’s strip search of D.H., a minor student, violated clearly established constitutional law. The court concluded that McDowell violated D.H.'s constitutional rights. Furthermore, a reasonable official in McDowell’s position would not have believed that requiring D.H. to strip down to his fully naked body in front of several of his peers was lawful in light of the clearly established principle that a student strip search, even if justified in its inception, must be “reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction.” Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s denial of McDowell’s motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. View "D. H. v. McDowell" on Justia Law
Ziegler v. Martin Cnty. Sch. Bd.
Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that defendants violated students' constitutional rights when they detained the students for breathalyzer tests prior to entering their Junior/Senior Prom. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The court concluded that plaintiffs have not established an actual or reasonable expectation of privacy in the party bus, which they had abandoned once they had exited for the Prom; the bus driver had apparent authority to consent to search the party bus; and therefore, the search of the party bus did not violate plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights. The court also concluded that the initial waiting period for the breathalyzer mouthpieces and a trained individual to administer the breathalyzer tests was reasonable, because it was necessary for the testing; detaining a student after he or she was found to be alcohol free was not “reasonably related” to the reason for the detention “in the first place” of determining if the student passengers on the party bus had been drinking; the individual school defendants are entitled to qualified immunity because there was no binding clearly established law at the time; and claims against the remaining defendants have been abandoned or have no merit. The court rejected plaintiffs' remaining claims. Because plaintiffs have not established that they should succeed on any of their allegations concerning their Fourth, First, and Fourteenth Amendment claims, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ziegler v. Martin Cnty. Sch. Bd." on Justia Law