Over at How Appealing, Howard Bashman reports on a lawsuit challenging the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race in admissions. A white student sued the university over how it considers race after admitting students under its famous 10 percent plan, in which students finishing in the top 10 percent of graduating classes at Texas high schools are automatically accepted at the Austin campus. The Houston Chronicle reports here. The lawsuit by the Project on Fair Representation is here. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, backers of a petition drive to end race and gender preferences in public employment, public education, and ...


Over at the Education Intelligence Agency, union watchdog Mike Antonucci reports on a federal court decision that means more state and local affiliates of the big teachers' unions will have to start complying with U.S. Department of Labor disclosure requirements. The decision by the U.S. District Court in Washington in Alabama Education Association v. Chao is here. The court ruled that Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao made a reasonable interpretation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 when she decided that it should now cover public-sector unions. At the national level, the American Federation of ...


The Washington Post has created quite a discussion with this story about a 1st grader who was allegedly disciplined by school officials for sexual harassment of a fellow student on the playground. The boy smacked a classmate on her bottom, and school officials filed a report on him under the category, "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive." ABC's "Good Morning America" picked up on the story today. While the Post's story had a discussion of relevant state laws in its circulation area, there was little more than passing reference to federal case law and regulations on peer sexual harassment under Title ...


Here are a few unrelated school news developments: Turnitin.com: Over at The Edjurist Accord blog, Justin Bathon has tipped us off about the dismissal of a copyright lawsuit brought by students against the company that operates Turnitin.com, an anti-plagiarism Web site. Education Week reported last year on the filing of the lawsuit, which said the company was infringing the rights of students who were required by their schools to submit essays for analysis in Turnitin.com's database. The ruling dismissing the suit is here. Michigan Girls' Athletics: A federal judge has ordered the Michigan High School Athletic Association ...


Lorena Jeanne Tinker, the mother of two students at the center of one of the U.S. Supreme Court's most significant rulings on free speech rights in schools, has died. Mrs. Tinker was the mother of John and Mary Beth Tinker, who wore black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War in 1965, leading to the landmark 1969 Supreme Court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. The court held that wearing such armbands was symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment as long as school was not substantially disrupted. Mrs. Tinker, who had two other ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review the case of an 8th-grader who was suspended for an off-campus Internet message with a drawing that suggested a teacher should be shot and killed. The justices declined without comment to hear the appeal of the family in Wisniewski v. Board of Education of the Weedsport Central School District (Case No. 07-987). According to court papers, Aaron Wisniewski was a student at Weedsport Middle School in 2001 when he sent an instant message on America Online to a friend with an icon featuring a pistol firing bullets at a person's head, ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to review an Idaho state law that bars school districts and other local government agencies from making deductions from union members' paychecks for the unions' political activities. The court accepted the state's appeal in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association (Case No. 07-869), in which the state is defending the federal constitutionality of its Voluntary Contributions Act. The law was passed in 2003, and was challenged by the Idaho Education Association, its Pocatello local, and other public employee unions in the state. The ruling below by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ...


The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” student speech was not a grand slam for educators, a lawyer said today at the Council of School Attorneys meeting in Orlando. “I don’t think we even hit a double,” Michael E. Smith said in his analysis of Morse v. Frederick. In that case, the court held that the “Bong Hits” banner displayed at a school-related event by a high school student was not protected under the First Amendment. The justices also held that the principal who disciplined the student should have been given ...


The U.S. Supreme Court’s major decision from last year on race in K-12 education is still being debated among educators, lawyers, and others. That much was clear during the opening session of the National School Boards Association’s Council of School Attorneys meeting here in Orlando. The court’s decision in Seattle School District v. Parents Involved in Community Schools was the basis for a sharp, but civil, 90-minute discussion. “Our nation is not yet color blind,” said Anurima Bhargava, the director of education practice for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City. She ...


The next issue of Education Week will have these school law-related stories, which are available on our Web site now. My colleague Alyson Klein has this story about the Department of Education's proposed new regulations on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which include provisions about the sharing of information about potentially dangerous students. And I have this Law & Courts column on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this week to grant review of a case that will allow the justices to reconsider an important precedent on qualified immunity for public officials. In granting review in Pearson v. Callahan (a...


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