Justia Education Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
G. G. v. Gloucester Cnty. Sch. Bd.
After G.G., a transgender boy, began to use the boys’ restrooms with the approval of the school administration, the local school board passed a policy banning G.G. from the boys’ restroom. G.G. filed suit alleging that the school board impermissibly discriminated against him in violation of Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 1681(a), and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The district court dismissed G.G.’s Title IX claim and denied his request for a preliminary injunction. The court reversed the dismissal of G.G.’s Title IX claim, concluding that the district court did not accord appropriate deference to the relevant Department of Education regulations. In this case, the Department’s interpretation of its own regulation, 34 C.F.R. 106.33, as it relates to restroom access by transgender individuals, is entitled to Auer v. Robbins deference and is to be accorded controlling weight. The court also concluded that the district court used the wrong evidentiary standard in assessing G.G.’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court evaluated G.G.’s proffered evidence against a stricter evidentiary standard than is warranted by the nature and purpose of preliminary injunction proceedings to prevent irreparable harm before a full trial on the merits. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion when it denied the preliminary injunction without considering G.G.’s proffered evidence. The court vacated the district court's denial of the preliminary injunction and remanded for consideration under the correct standard. View "G. G. v. Gloucester Cnty. Sch. Bd." on Justia Law
Class v. Towson Univ.
Plaintiff collapsed with exertional heatstroke while practicing as a member of the Towson University football team. Plaintiff was in a coma for nine days, almost died, and suffered multi-organ failure, requiring a liver a transplant and numerous additional surgeries. Plaintiff subsequently recovered and pursued his plan to return to playing football. However, the Team Physician, a board-certified sports medicine doctor, concluded that allowing plaintiff to participate in the football program at the University presented an unacceptable risk of serious reinjury or death. Plaintiff filed suit against the University, alleging that its decision to exclude him from the football program amounted to a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq. The district court entered judgment against the University. The court reversed, concluding that plaintiff was not “otherwise qualified” to participate fully in the University’s football program because the University reasonably applied its Return-to-Play Policy. The court was required to give deference to the University's judgment. The court did not reach the University's challenge to the district court's evidentiary rulings. View "Class v. Towson Univ." on Justia Law
O.S. v. Fairfax Cnty. Sch. Bd.
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging a hearing officer's conclusion that the School Board had provided O.S. with a free and appropriate education (FAPE). The district court affirmed the hearing officer's decision. At issue was whether the standard for a FAPE under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., has changed since Board of Education v. Rowley. The court held that it has not and that, in evaluating whether a school provides a FAPE, the court still looks to whether the individualized education program (IEP) provides some education benefit to the student. Applying that standard to this case, the court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that the School Board met that requirement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "O.S. v. Fairfax Cnty. Sch. Bd." on Justia Law