Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
by
Defendants, Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (the "CIAC") and its member high schools (together, "Defendants"), have followed the "Transgender Participation" Policy (the "Policy"), which permits high school students to compete on gender specific athletic teams consistent with their gender identity if that is different from "the gender listed on their official birth certificates."   Plaintiffs are four cisgender female students who allege that the policy disproportionally disadvantages cisgender girls as compared to boys. Plaintiffs allege that the Policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. Section 1681 et seq. ("Title IX"), because the participation of transgender females in girls' high school athletic events results in "students who are born female" having materially fewer opportunities for victory, public recognition, athletic scholarships, and future employment "than students who are born male."   The district court dismissed the claims on grounds that (1) Plaintiffs' request to enjoin future enforcement of the Policy was moot; (2) Plaintiffs lacked standing to assert their claim for an injunction to change the record books; and (3) Plaintiffs' claims for monetary damages were barred under Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman.   The Second Circuit affirmed writing that it was unpersuaded, with respect to the claim for an injunction to alter the records, that Plaintiffs have established the injury in fact and redressability requirements for standing; both fail for reasons of speculation. And because the court concluded that the CIAC and its member schools did not have adequate notice that the Policy violates Title IX Plaintiffs' claims for damages must be dismissed. View "Selina Soule et al. v. Connecticut Association of Schools et al." on Justia Law

by
In 2014, Plaintiff, then a women’s soccer player at the University of Connecticut (“UConn”) and recipient of a one-year athletic scholarship, raised her middle finger to a television camera during her team’s post-game celebration after winning a tournament championship. Although she initially was suspended from further tournament games for that gesture, Plaintiff was ultimately also punished by UConn with a mid-year termination of her athletic scholarship. She brought this lawsuit against UConn (through its Board of Trustees) and several university officials alleging, inter alia, violations of her First Amendment and procedural due process rights under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, as well as a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (“Title IX”), in connection with the termination of her scholarship. On appeal, Plaintiff challenges the decision of the district court granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on those claims.   The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiff's procedural due process and First Amendment claims and vacated the district court’s judgment to the extent it granted summary judgment to UConn on the Title IX claim. The court explained Plaintiff has put forth sufficient evidence, including a detailed comparison of her punishment to those issued by UConn for male student-athletes found to have engaged in misconduct, to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether she was subjected to a more serious disciplinary sanction, i.e., termination of her athletic scholarship, because of her gender. View "Radwan v. Manuel" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, formerly a tenured theology teacher at a Roman Catholic high school in Staten Island, appealed from the dismissal of his complaint against his labor union, the Federation of Catholic Teachers (the “FCT”), for allegedly breaching its duty of fair representation under the National Labor Relations Act (the “NLRA”) as amended by the Labor Management Relations Act (the “LMRA”), and for assorted violations under the New York State and New York City human rights laws. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s duty-of-fair representation claim with prejudice for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), reasoning that the NLRA and LMRA are inapplicable to disputes between parochial-school teachers and their labor unions under NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 440 U.S. 490 (1979).   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court concluded, as a matter of first impression, that Catholic Bishop does preclude Plaintiff’s duty-of-fair-representation claim, but that dismissal was warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted, rather than for lack of federal subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). The court also concluded that Plaintiff has abandoned any challenge to the dismissal of his state and municipal-law claims. View "Jusino v. Fed'n of Cath. Tchrs., Inc." on Justia Law

by
FASORP brought suit against the NYU Defendants, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In an Amended Complaint, FASORP pleads that its members have standing to challenge the Law Review's article-selection and editor-selection processes, as well as the Law School's faculty-hiring processes, all of which FASORP alleges violated Title VI and Title IX by impermissibly considering sex and race in its selection and hiring decisions.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint without prejudice and held that FASORP does not have standing to sue NYU because it has failed to demonstrate injuries to its members. In this case, even if FASORP's pleadings were found to sufficiently identify members who have suffered the requisite harm, FASORP fails to demonstrate that those members have experienced an invasion of a legally protected interest that is certainly impending or that there is a substantial risk that the harm will occur. The court explained that, without any "description of concrete plans" to apply for employment, submit an article, or of having submitted an article, that will or has been accepted for publication, FASORP's allegations exhibit the kind of "some day intentions" that cannot "support a finding of [] actual or imminent injury." View "Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences v. New York University" on Justia Law

by
An organization that is not directly regulated or affected by a challenged law or regulation cannot establish injury-in-fact for purposes of organizational standing absent a showing that it suffered an involuntary and material burden on its established core activities.CTPU filed suit alleging that Connecticut's standards regarding the racial composition of its interdistrict magnet schools violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, concluding that CTPU has not established an injury-in-fact for purposes of demonstrating organizational standing. In this case, CTPU is an organization that is not directly regulated or affected by the challenged standards and CTPU has failed to show that it suffered an involuntary, material burden on its core activities. View "Connecticut Parents Union v. Russell-Tucker" on Justia Law

by
An organization that is not directly regulated or affected by a challenged law or regulation cannot establish injury-in-fact for purposes of organizational standing absent a showing that it suffered an involuntary and material burden on its established core activities.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of CTPU's complaint alleging that Connecticut's standards regarding the racial composition of its interdistrict magnet schools violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The court concluded that the district court properly dismissed the complaint based on lack of Article III standing. In this case, because CTPU is an organization that is not directly regulated or affected by the challenged standards and because CTPU has failed to show that it suffered an involuntary, material burden on its core activities, the court concluded that CTPU has not established an injury-in-fact for purposes of demonstrating organizational standing. View "Connecticut Parents Union v. Russell-Tucker" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, which (A) declared the Board to be in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for denying a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to disabled students between the ages of 21 and 22 while providing a free public education to nondisabled students in the same age range, and (B) permanently enjoined the Board and its successors, employees, and agents, etc., from terminating, on the basis of age, FAPEs for plaintiff class members who have not received a regular high school diploma before they reach the age of 22.The court concluded that the original plaintiff, D.J., had standing to bring the action where D.J. received ten months less of special education than he would have if not for the Board's enforcement of the challenged state regulation, thereby demonstrating injury for purposes of Article III standing. Furthermore, D.J.'s standing was entirely traceable to the Board's enforcement of the regulations at issue and the injury could be redressed by judicial action. On the merits, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in interpreting the IDEA term "public education" to encompass free adult education programs offered by the State of Connecticut. The court considered all of the Board's arguments on appeal and found them to be without merit. View "A.R. v. Connecticut State Board of Education" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners filed suit seeking injunctive relief, alleging that the denials of their requests for tuition funding violated their rights to the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. Under Vermont's Town Tuition Program (TTP), sending districts pay tuition to independent schools on behalf of high-school-aged students residing in the districts. The district court found that the school districts—endeavoring to comply with a state constitutional provision—denied petitioners' funding requests solely because of the religious status of petitioners' chosen school. Following Supreme Court precedent, the district court ruled that the exclusion of petitioners from the TTP violated the First Amendment, and the district court granted a limited preliminary injunction in petitioners' favor. Because respondents wanted to develop new criteria for TTP eligibility that would satisfy the state constitution, the district court enjoined the school districts from continuing to exclude petitioners from the TTP based solely on the religious status of petitioners' chosen school. However, the district court declined to mandate that the districts allow petitioners to participate in the TTP until the case was resolved. Petitioners appealed and moved for an emergency injunction pending appeal that would prohibit the school districts from continuing to deny their TTP funding requests.The Second Circuit construed petitioners' motion as a petition for a writ of mandamus directing the district court to amend its preliminary injunction. In February 2021, the court granted the petition for writ of mandamus because petitioners clearly had a right to the relief they requested and mandamus was justified to enable them to obtain that relief. In this opinion, the court explained the reasons for its order granting the writ, concluding that petitioners have no other adequate means to attain the relief they desire; the district court was wrong to allow the school districts to continue to withhold TTP funds from petitioners while the districts developed new restrictions and safeguards; and the writ is appropriate where petitioners have been deprived of a public benefit as a result of the state's and the school districts' decades-long policy of unconstitutional religious discrimination. View "A.H. v. French" on Justia Law

by
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not permit a school district to amend an individualized education program (IEP) unilaterally during the thirty-day resolution period. The Act envisions the resolution period as a time for mediation and agreement, not one-sided action. In this case, the first IEP that the school district prepared for the child and presented to the parents indicated erroneously that the child would be placed in a 12-student classroom, which the parents deemed insufficient. After the parents filed a due process complaint, the school district sought to cure this deficiency by unilaterally amending the original IEP to reflect that the student would be in a 15-student class. The district court found in favor of the parents and ordered the school district to reimburse the parents for the private school tuition.The Second Circuit affirmed and concluded that because the school district argues only that it provided the student with a free appropriate education (FAPE) based on her IEP as unilaterally amended during the resolution period, and does not dispute that the unamended IEP denied the student a FAPE, the school district denied the student a FAPE for her 2016-17 school year. Finally, the district court's other conclusions relevant to the reimbursement order are not challenged on appeal and therefore stand unaltered. View "Board of Education of the Yorktown Central School District v. C.S." on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by denying plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, holding that plaintiffs will likely succeed in showing that, as applied, the Dual Enrollment Program's "publicly funded" requirement violated their rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. In this case, A.H., her parents, and the Diocese filed suit against the Agency of Education after A.H.'s application for public funding to the program was denied solely because of her school's religious status.The court concluded that, in these circumstances, the State's reliance on the "publicly funded" requirement as a condition for program eligibility imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion, because it forced Rice Memorial High School, a ministry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, to chose whether to participate in an otherwise available benefit program or remain a religious institution. At the same time, the requirement puts A.H.'s family to a choice between sending their child to a religious school or receiving benefits. In light of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012, 2021 (2017), the court explained that the denial of a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity can be justified only by a state interest of the highest order. In this case, the Agency has not identified any compelling interest that could survive strict scrutiny. The court also concluded that the remaining preliminary injunction factors favor a preliminary injunction. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and granted the motion for a preliminary injunction. View "A.H. v. French" on Justia Law