Justia Education Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs L.E., B.B., A.Z., and C.S., are students who have respiratory disabilities (“Students”). They appealed the denial of their motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The Students sued Defendants, the Superintendent of the Cobb County School District, individual members of the Cobb County School Board, and the Cobb County School District (collectively, “CCSD”), in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Students claim that CCSD’s refusal to provide reasonable accommodations for access to in-person schooling constitutes a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Section 504”).   The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded for analysis under the correct scope: access to the benefits provided by in-person schooling. The court held this claim presents a live controversy that survives mootness and the district court erred in its review of the Students’ discrimination claims. The Students argue that CCSD ignored those recommendations and continues to disregard CDC guidance in this respect. Therefore, this remains a live controversy. A judgment in their favor would grant the Students meaningful relief by requiring CCSD to follow the guidance on accommodating students with disabilities under the ADA and Section 504 as it is updated—a practice the Students claim CCSD refuses to do. Thus, this claim remains a live controversy. Further, the court wrote that the district court erred in holding the Students must show a substantial likelihood of success on the merits on a disparate treatment claim. View "L.E., et al v. Superintendent of Cobb County School District, et al" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals ruling that the trial court did not commit plain error by allowing the admission of testimony describing certain information provided by the State's principal witness as "rock solid", holding that the admission of the challenged portion of the testimony did not constitute plain error.After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and first-degree burglary. The court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment without parole. The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals upholding the convictions, holding that the challenged portion of the testimony was inadmissible, but it was not reasonably probable that Defendant would have been acquitted had the challenged portion of the testimony not been admitted. View "State v. Caballero" on Justia Law

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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

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The State of New Hampshire petitioned for original jurisdiction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court to challenge a circuit court order that granted respondent’s motion to dismiss a juvenile delinquency petition. The trial court ruled that the State failed to comply with RSA 169-B:6, IV(b) (2022) because no “manifestation review” had occurred prior to the filing of the delinquency petition. The Supreme Count found the term “manifestation review,” in the context of a juvenile delinquency petition resulting from conduct in a school setting by a student with a disability, referred to a process whereby a school, the student’s parents, and other parties review the student’s individualized education plan (IEP) and other relevant information to determine whether the alleged misconduct stemmed from the student’s disability or the school’s failure to implement the student’s IEP. The Court affirmed and held that whenever a delinquency petition is to be filed pursuant to RSA 169-B:6, IV(b) and the legally liable school district has determined that the child is a child with a disability according to RSA 186-C:2, I, then a manifestation review must be performed prior to the filing of the delinquency petition. "Of course, if the legislature disagrees with our construction of RSA 169-B:6, IV, it is free, within constitutional limits, to amend the statute accordingly." View "Petition of State of New Hampshire" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the holding of the circuit court that HB 503, codified at Ky. Rev. Stat. 141.500-.528 and known as the "Education Opportunity Account Act" (EOA Act), is unconstitutional, holding that the EOA Act violates section 184.In 2021, the General Assembly passed the HB 563, which, as codified, established the Education Opportunity Account Program. Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the EOA Act, arguing that it impermissibly redirects state revenues to nonpublic schools. The circuit court granted summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claims involving sections 59 and 184 of the Kentucky Constitution and granted the requested injunctive relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the EOA Act violates the plain language of section 184 and the prohibition on raising or collecting funds for nonpublic schools. View "Commonwealth ex rel. Cameron v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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The California Legislature has required school children to be vaccinated for 10 diseases; COVID-19 was not yet among them. The issue here was whether a school district could require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for both: (1) attending in-person class; and (2) participating in extracurricular activities. The superior court determined there was a “statewide standard for school vaccination,” leaving “no room for each of the over 1,000 individual school districts to impose a patchwork of additional vaccine mandates.” On independent review, the Court of Appeal reached the same conclusion and affirmed the judgment. View "Let Them Choose v. San Diego Unified School Dist." on Justia Law

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Joshua Greer, a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville ("the University"), and Young Americans for Liberty, a student organization at the University ("the plaintiffs"), appealed a judgment dismissing their action challenging the legality of the University's policy regulating speech in outdoor areas of the University's campus ("the policy"). The policy allowed University students and student organizations, among others, to reserve and use outdoor spaces on campus to engage in speech. Whether a reservation is required depends on the nature of the students' activities and expression. The general rule was that students had to make reservations for activities that make use of the outdoor areas of campus. No reservation was needed for "casual recreational or social activities," a term that the policy did not define. Similarly, no reservation was needed for "spontaneous activities of expression, which are generally prompted by news or affairs coming into public knowledge less than forty-eight (48) hours prior to the spontaneous expression." The policy then lists 20 designated areas on campus where spontaneous speech was allowed. Plaintiffs alleged that the policy violated the "Alabama Campus Free Speech Act" insofar as the policy generally required reservations for speech, creates the exception for "spontaneous" speech, and creates designated areas on campus for that spontaneous speech. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed the judgment dismissing the action on two grounds: (1) the policy plainly violates the Act insofar as the policy creates designated areas for spontaneous speech; and (2) there is at least one unresolved factual issue concerning the evaluation of the policy's time, place, and manner restrictions. View "Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, et al. v. St. John IV, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court permanently enjoining the State from implementing the Hope Scholarship Act, W. Va. Code 18-31-1 to -13, after declaring the Act to be unconstitutional, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion.The Act established the Hope Scholarship Program to create education-savings accounts that may only be used for specific educational purposes. Via statute, the Hope Scholarship's funding was "in addition to all other amounts required" to fund public education. Plaintiffs brought this complaint seeking injunctive and declaratory relief and arguing that the Act was unconstitutional. The circuit court ruled that the Act was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Act does not facially violate the "free schools" clause contained in W. Va. Const. art. XII, 1; (2) the Act does not impinge on a child's fundamental right to an education; (3) the Act does not violate W. Va. Const. art. XII, 4-5 or art. X, 5; and (4) the Act does not violate article XII, 2. View "State v. Beaver" on Justia Law