An en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, is hearing oral arguments today in the case of a student who challenged a strip search conducted by school officials looking for prescription drugs. I blogged about the case of Redding v. Safford Unified School District here in January, when the 9th Circuit agreed to have a larger panel of judges review the case. The September 2007 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit in favor of school officials in the case, which has been essentially set aside by the ...


A few odds and ends at the end of the week: ACLU Lawsuit Over Poor Graduation Rates: My Education Week colleague Christina Samuels has this story about the American Civil Liberties Union-backed lawsuit claiming that the Palm Beach County, Fla., school district's low graduation rate violates the state constitution's guarantee of a "high-quality" education. Over at The Edjurist Accord, Justin Bathon has this post calling the lawsuit "very creative," even if he believes its chances of success are slim. NYC Principal Loses Another Round: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City has denied ...


Lawyers for the National Education Association are urging a federal appeals court not to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that revived the union's legal challenge to the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals of the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, is considering whether to give "en banc," or full court, review of Pontiac School District v. Spellings. The panel ruled in January that the states were not on clear notice of their potential financial obligations when they agreed to accept federal funding under the No Child Left Behind law. In its ...


I've been away for a couple of days for a St. Patrick's Day visit to New York City, but I wanted to note a couple of developments at the U.S. Supreme Court this week. District of Columbia Handgun Ban Yesterday, the justices heard arguments in a major case on gun rights. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the court will explore the scope of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Amid the hundreds of pages of friend-of-the-court briefs filed in the case, a couple bear mentioning here in the School Law Blog. The city of Chicago ...


I have two stories in next week's Education Week that I thought might bear mentioning here. The first involves the Chicago corruption trial of businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko. What does that have to do with education? Find out in my story here. But I'll also give you a clue. Many of the federal government's fraud charges involve Rezko's alleged role in manipulating investment contracts of the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System. For those who really like digging into legal documents, the government's indictment is here, a key "proffer" detailing its case is here, and a response by Rezko's lawyers is here. (The...


The Washington state constitution provides more protection from suspicionless searches than the federal constitution does, the state supreme court held today in striking down a school district's drug-testing policy for student athletes. "We decline to adopt a doctrine similar to the federal special needs exception in the context of randomly drug testing student athletes," said a plurality opinion by four justices on the nine-member court. The state constitutional provision at issue says, "No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law." The plurality notes that the state supreme court "has a long ...


A federal district judge has turned away an initial legal challenge to the Jefferson County, Ky., school district's racial diversity plan developed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the district's earlier plan. The Associated Press reports here, and the Louisville Courier-Journal reports here. The revised plan will use geography to maintain racial diversity in the district's schools. I blogged about the plan here when it was released in January. According to the news accounts, U.S. District Judge John Heybourn II of Louisville told the lawyer challenging the new plan, Teddy Gordon, that ...


The season for graduation-prayer controversies is upon us. But a prayer lawsuit in Texas appears to have been settled somewhat amicably. A federal district judge in Austin has approved a settlement that bars the Round Rock Independent School District from allowing students to vote on whether to have any form of prayer, benediction, or invocation at graduation ceremonies. The suit by unidentified plaintiffs was backed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington. The group's press release is here, and the settlement document is here. The settlement says such student votes will be barred unless the U.S....


A college math teacher who was dismissed after altering her state loyalty oath has been reinstated, two California newspapers report. I blogged here about Marianne Kearney-Brown, a Quaker graduate student who was teaching remedial math at California State University-East Bay. Citing the Quaker religion's commitment to non-violence, Kearney-Brown inserted the word "nonviolently" in front of the state Oath of Allegiance's language calling on her to swear or affirm that she would "support and defend" the state and U.S. constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic." The oath is required of K-12 public school employees in California, too, and Kearney-Brown ...


A state appellate court ruling in California is raising major questions about the rights of parents in that state to home school their children, and that is causing a big stir. "It is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public full-time day school is required by California law for minor children unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught, or (3) one of the other few statutory exemptions ...


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