The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the appeal of a high school football coach who was seeking the right to bow his head or take a knee when his players engage in voluntary pre-game prayers. In the coach's case, the appeal on behalf of Marcus A. Borden of East Brunswick High School in New Jersey said the longtime head football coach did not seek to pray or join his players in pre-game prayers. "Rather, he sought only to engage in two silent, respectful gestures: to bow his head when students pray at the pre-game dinner, and to continue to ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that a city's acceptance of a monument for a public park represents government speech and thus does not implicate the First Amendment free speech rights of a group seeking to add its own monument to the park. The court's 9-0 decision in Pleasant Grove City, Utah v. Summum (Case No. 07-665) arguably holds implications for public schools. Some groups had argued that a ruling that went the other way--for a religious sect called Summum that wanted to put a monument detailing its principles in a park in the Utah city where a Ten ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that a state's restriction on school district and other local government employee payroll deductions for politics does not violate the free speech rights of unions. The justices ruled 6-3 in a case from Idaho involving that state's Voluntary Contributions Act, which prohibits school districts and other local governments from using their payroll systems to let workers voluntarily deduct amounts from their paychecks for political causes, such as for the unions’ political action funds. "Idaho’s law does not restrict political speech, but rather declines to promote that speech by allowing public employee checkoffs ...


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 ...


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