Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Utah Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court issuing an injunction enjoining the implementation of Senate Bill 78 (SB 78) on the grounds that it violates article X, section 8 of the Utah Constitution, holding that State Board of Education members are not employed in the state's education systems and are therefore not covered by article X, section 8. In 2016, the legislature passed SB 78, which makes the office of State Board of Education a partisan office and requires Board members to be elected through the general partisan election process. The district court concluded that Board members hold "employment" in a legal sense in the State's education system and therefore fell within the purview of article X, section 8. Thus, the court concluded, SB 78 was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed the district court and reinstated SB 78, holding that because the Utah Constitution omits Board members from being in a condition of employment in the state's education systems, SB 78 does not violate the Utah Constitution. View "Richards v. Cox" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a lawsuit in federal district court over the death of fifteen-year-old Tucker Thayer. In that suit, Tucker's parents alleged that Washington County School District officials were negligent when they allowed a gun loaded with blank cartridges to be used in a school musical production, resulting in their son's death. The school district asserted governmental immunity from the claims. The Utah Supreme Court accepted certification to address a novel issue of state law and held that the Licensing Exception of the Governmental Immunity Act did not apply to the conduct of the school district officials and those acting on the district's behalf, as any authorization of the presence of the firearm on campus was not a formal, official authorization by a governmental body or employee endowed with regulatory power to issue such an authorization. In addition, a governmental entity such as the school district may not insulate itself from suit by routinely authorizing and approving the negligent conduct of its employees. View "Thayer v. Thayer" on Justia Law