Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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High school students sprayed with or exposed to Freeze +P filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the board of education, the chief of police, and the Student Resource Officers (SROs) who used the spray against them or in their vicinity. On appeal, the police chief challenged the district court's judgment. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and held that the September 30 order was final and appealable under 28 U.S.C. 1291 pursuant to the court's decision in United States v. Alabama; assuming the SROs in question violated the Fourth Amendment by failing to adequately decontaminate the students exposed to Freeze +P, they were entitled to qualified immunity because the relevant law was not clearly established at the time of their conduct in 2009, 2010, and 2011; the class-based claim for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the use of Freeze +P failed for lack of standing; and the class-based claim for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the decontamination policy also failed for lack of standing. View "J W v. Roper" on Justia Law

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School administrators filed suit alleging that the school board's investigation and discipline of their efforts to convert their school into a charter school violated their freedom of speech and association in violation of the First Amendment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the school board under D'Angelo v. School Board of Polk County, 497 F.3d 1203 (11th Cir. 2007). The panel held that the Supreme Court's most recent opinion in Lane v. Franks, 134 S. Ct. 2369 (2014), did not undermine, let alone abrogate D'Angelo's precedential effect. In this case, the administrators spoke not as private citizens but as the principal and assistant principal of a public school, pursuant to their official duties, when they undertook to convert their public school into a charter school. Therefore, their speech was not protected by the First Amendment. View "Fernandez v. The School Board of Miami-Dade County" on Justia Law

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Despite his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis and difficulties with organization, Connor excelled in academic programs and on standardized tests. He was admitted into a selective Magnet Program. Beginning in freshman year, the School District accommodated Connor’s ADHD with extended test time, early morning math classes, and small class sizes. Connor’s counselor offered to help Connor stay organized, but his parents declined. Connor succeeded under his section 504 Plan (Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794) through junior year. On the SAT, he scored in the 95th percentile for Reading and 98th percentile for Math. Connor’s junior-year teachers unanimously agreed that he did not need special education. Senior year, Connor amassed late and incomplete work, culminating in five failing grades, removal from the Magnet Program, and inability to graduate. His Plan had been expanded to include recording classes, access to online class notes, and reduced homework. Although the District found Connor IDEA-eligible (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400), Connor and his teachers attributed his failing grades not to his disability, but to procrastination. The family filed a Due Process Hearing Request. An ALJ ruled in favor of the District. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of section 504 and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12131, claims for noncompliance with the IDEA’s exhaustion requirement. Connor was entitled to neither an IDEA evaluation nor special education because he was not a “child with a disability.” View "Durbrow v. Cobb County School District" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for review of the Secretary's order requiring Georgia to repay approximately $2.1 million of federal grant funds to the United States Department of Education. The court held that the Secretary properly considered the circumstances of the underlying fraud in petitioner's case in denying the equitable offset remedy, which he noted was to be determined based on agency precedent on a case by case basis at the discretion of the trier of fact. In this case, the nature and scope of the violation was too serious to warrant an equitable offset given petitioner's employees participated in a complex fraud scheme which led to the state improperly awarding $5.7 million to seventeen subgrantees who did not qualify to receive those funds. View "Georgia Department of Education v. United States Department of Education" on Justia Law

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In this school desegregation case, black schoolchildren opposed a motion filed by the Gardendale City Board of Education to permit it to operate a municipal school system. The district court devised and permitted a partial secession that neither party requested. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not clearly err when it found that the Board moved to secede for a racially discriminatory purpose; the district court did not not clearly err when it found, in the alternative, that the secession would impede the desegregation efforts of the Jefferson County Board; but the district court abused its discretion when it sua sponte permitted the partial secession of the Board. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded with instructions to deny the motion to secede. View "Stout v. Gardendale City Board of Education" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400–1482, alleging that the School Board's refusal to include the desired therapy in their children's Individual Education Plan (IEP) reflected its predetermined policy of never including any Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)-based method or strategy in a child's IEP. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the policy because it was not applied to them. The court explained that, although plaintiffs could claim to suffer injury because the School Board did not adopt the specific ABA services they were requesting, such a claim was not a cognizable injury in fact under the procedural prong of Bd. of Educ. of Hendrick Hudson Cent. Sch. Dist. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 206–07 (1982), because the children's IEPs included an ABA-based service. View "L.M.P. v. School Board of Broward County" on Justia Law