Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

by
Where a university takes an adverse employment action against an employee, in response to allegations of sexual misconduct, following a clearly irregular investigative or adjudicative process, amid criticism for reacting inadequately to allegations of sexual misconduct by members of one sex, these circumstances support a prima facie case of sex discrimination. When contesting an inference of bias based on procedural irregularity, an employer cannot justify its abandonment of promised procedural protections by recharacterizing specific accusations in more generic terms. Where a student files a complaint against a university employee, the student is motivated, at least in part, by invidious discrimination, the student intends that the employee suffer an adverse employment action as a result, and the university negligently or recklessly punishes the employee as a proximate result of that complaint, the university may be liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against Hofstra under Title VII and the New York State Human Rights Law, alleging that Hofstra discriminated against him because of his sex when it fired him in response to allegedly malicious allegations of sexual harassment. The court held that the district court's decision conflicted with circuit precedent in Doe v. Columbia University, 831 F.3d 46 (2d Cir. 2016), and relied on improper factual findings. In this case, the complaint alleged circumstances that provide at least a minimal support for an inference of discriminatory intent. On remand, the court noted that the district court should consider Hofstra's potential liability under a cat's paw theory. View "Menaker v. Hofstra University" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against NYIT, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL). Plaintiff alleged that NYIT discriminated against him based on his homosexuality and mental health disability. The Second Circuit affirmed in part, holding that plaintiff's 2010-11 claims were untimely, and the continuing violation doctrine did not apply to these claims. However, the court held that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's 2013-14 claims under the ADA and Title IX, because the four month statute of limitations for a New York State Article 78 Proceeding did not apply to these claims. Rather, a three year statute of limitations applied to both claims, and thus his claims were timely. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded. View "Purcell v. N.Y. Institute of Technology - College of Osteopathic Medicine" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit held that the district court properly deferred to the decision of the New York State Review Officer (SRO), which concluded that student W.E. was not denied a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for the eighth grade school year and that Northwood School was not an appropriate unilateral private school placement for the ninth grade school year. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's November 2016 judgment and order in part. To the extent that the district court failed to accord appropriate deference to the SRO's conclusion that Northwood did not provide W.E. specially designed instruction so as to constitute an appropriate private school placement for the tenth grade school year, the court reversed in part the district court's opinion and vacated the award of tuition reimbursement to plaintiffs for that school year. The court also affirmed a July 2017 opinion and order granting the district court's grant of summary judgment and vacating the award of compensatory education for the eighth grade year. View "W.A.v. Hendrick Hudson Central School District" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in an action brought by parents of a student with an emotional disturbance against the school district. The parents claimed that the school district violated procedural requirements, provided an inadequate individualized education program (IEP) for more than two school years, and offered an inadequate IEP for a third year, which denied the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The court agreed with the district court that the school district provided and offered the student a FAPE at all times and that any procedural violations did not entitle the parents to any relief. View "Mr. & Mrs. P. v. West Hartford Board of Education" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendant, the principal of Capital Prep, violated plaintiff's First Amendment right of freedom of assembly and his state-law right to be free from the intentional infliction of emotional distress in banning plaintiff from attending virtually all Capital Prep events, on or off school property, because of his opposition to defendant's bullying and harassing efforts to compel plaintiff's daughter to remain a member of the girls varsity basketball team. The district court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal insofar as it related to the claimed due process violation, holding that the claim was not properly before the court. As to the First Amendment claim, the court held that defendant's motion for summary judgment was properly denied to the extent that plaintiff complained of being banned from events beyond school property and from sports contests on school property to which the public was invited; but defendant was entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law to the extent that he banned plaintiff from school property otherwise. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and dismissed in part. View "Johnson v. Perry" on Justia Law