Today is the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling on the free speech rights of secondary school students. The court decided Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District on Feb. 24, 1969. The justices held 7-2 that students had a First Amendment right to wear black armbands in school to protest the Vietnam War as long as school was not substantially disrupted. Writing for the majority, Justice Abe Fortas wrote that students (as well as teachers) do not "shed their constitutional right to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Time magazine wrote ...


The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced the dates for oral arguments in three school cases. The justices will hear arguments in April in cases dealing with English-language learners, student searches, and special education. Here are the dates and case summaries: Monday, April 20,11 a.m. Horne v. Flores and Speaker of the Arizona House v. Flores (Case Nos. 08-289 and 08-294) In these consolidated cases, the Supreme Court will hear an appeal from Arizona's superintendent of public instruction, Tom Horne, and state legislative leaders of lower-court rulings that the state was not providing enough funding for English-language ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear the appeal of a Kentucky student who challenged a school policy that he believed barred him from speaking out against homosexuality. The case stems from a contentious battle in Boyd County, Ky., over gay issues in the schools, starting with a group that successfully fought to establish a gay-straight student alliance at a high school. That fight led to the adoption of a high school code of conduct that prohibited harassment of students on the basis of sexual orientation. Also, the 3,300-student Boyd County district was required to conduct mandatory ...


Imagine you are a high school principal and auditors from the state education department are visiting. You want everything to go smoothly, right? Well, imagine next that on the day the auditors are visiting, there's a small fire in one of your classrooms. The fire is quickly doused. But next, as the auditing team and a teacher are walking across the school campus, someone shoots BBs from a pellet gun toward them, hitting one of the state officials. Finally, at a Black History Month ceremony in the auditorium, where state officials are present, a fight breaks out between two students. ...


This past weekend, Yale Law School examined a student speech case that has attracted wide notice in public education. I wasn't at the conference titled "The Future of Student Internet Speech: What Are We Teaching the Facebook Generation?” But the Yale Daily News reported Tuesday that the case "pitting Connecticut public school administrators against a high school student’s personal blog took center stage" at the conference. (Hat tip to How Appealing.) The case is Doninger v. Niehoff, which has been bouncing around from the U.S. District Court in Connecticut to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ...


A special federal court ruled today that there is no persuasive evidence for a link between childhood vaccines and autism. The conclusions came in three test cases heard by special masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, a special court in Washington with jurisdiction over certain suits against the federal government. Since 1987, the court has dealt with claims seeking compensation for injuries stemming from certain vaccines. Many parents believe that thimerosal-containing vaccines and the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) are a cause of autism in their children. The debate has been followed by educators, with ...


Today is the anniversary of the death of Lawrence "Larry" King, the 15-year-old Oxnard, Calif., youth who was shot and killed in school, allegedly by a classmate offended by King's homosexuality and effeminate demeanor. The Ventura County Star newspaper reported on Wednesday that the student charged in King's death is a follower of "racist skinhead philosophy," according to a court document filed recently by prosecutors. "According to prosecutors, murder suspect Brandon McInerney sat behind King in a computer lab class on Feb. 12, 2008, didn’t do anything for 20 minutes, and then without saying a word fired one shot ...


The Miami-Dade County, Fla., school board did not violate the First Amendment when it removed a children's book about Cuba from the shelves of school libraries, a federal appeals court has ruled. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled 2-1 to overturn the ruling of a federal district judge. The majority and dissenting opinions total 177 pages in the case about a book that is only 26 sentences long. The book is ¡Vamos a Cuba!, or A Visit to Cuba, part of a series of books about countries for 4- to ...


A federal appeals court heard arguments this week over a Texas law requiring a daily moment of silence in schools. The statute calls for a daily one-minute period in which "each student may, as the student chooses, reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student." A federal district judge in Dallas upheld the law, ruling last year that despite the mention of prayer as an option, the statute had the secular purpose of providing "a period of time for the full panoply of thoughtful contemplation." A Carrollton, ...


A Missouri school district did not violate the First Amendment when it prohibited students from displaying Confederate flags, a federal appeals court has ruled. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled unanimously in favor of the Farmington school district on Jan. 30. "The record in this case contains evidence of likely racially motivated violence, racial tension, and other altercations directly related to adverse race relations in the community and the school," the court said in B.W.A. v. Farmington R-7 School District. "Because the school could reasonably forecast ...


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