A federal appeals court today revived part of a lawsuit that challenges a Tennessee school district's decision to contract out its alternative education program to a private Christian school. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, voted 2-1 to revive the suit challenging the Jefferson County, Tenn., school board's decision to use the religious school as a violation of the First Amendment's prohibition against government establishment of religion. The majority in Smith v. Jefferson County School Board said there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the day program ...


The federal No Child Left Behind Act does not provide a private right to sue over its parental-notice and tutoring provisions, a federal appeals court has ruled. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, ruled unanimously on Nov. 20 in a case brought by a parents' group in Newark, N.J. "The overall structure of the act supports the conclusion that Congress did not intend to confer enforceable individual rights" under the parental-notice and supplemental education services provisions, the court said in Newark Parents Association v. Newark Public Schools. The court ...


San Antonio—Where do you get your information about school law? That’s a question two scholars here at the Education Law Association meeting asked in a survey of school lawyers, professors who teach school law, and others. The survey by Justin M. Bathon, an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Kentucky, and Kevin P. Brady, an assistant professor in the same field at North Carolina State University, was based on a small sample. Still, there were interesting findings. Legal textbooks were the most cited category of resource for school law information, following by Internet-based searches, case ...


San Antonio—On-the-job speech by teachers and other public school employees is getting less protection in the courts. That’s the conclusion of two scholars presenting here at the annual meeting of the Education Law Association. The Dayton, Ohio-based group is made up of K-12 educators, school lawyers, and many professors who teach school law as part of educational leadership programs. Richard T. Geisel, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Brenda R. Kallio, an associate professor in that discipline at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, analyzed recent ...


It's not often that school districts are involved in lawsuits under the federal Clean Air Act. But a California district has been, although without success in its efforts to use the federal law to halt the construction of a power plant near one of its schools. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled unanimously today to uphold the dismissal of a suit filed by the Romoland school district against a power company and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The school district in Riverside County, Calif., and other ...


The following story will appear in next week's issue of Education Week. I wasn't sure what to expect going into Wednesday's arguments about the Summum "7 Aphorisms" monument case. One thing I noticed is that virtually every conservative legal organization that has ever been involved in suing a school district was involved in the case, and not all on the same side. So I knew it had to be interesting. (Here's a link to all the briefs, thanks to the ABA.) Monument Case Before High Court Has Implications for Schools Issue of government speech arises over Utah park displays By ...


A federal appeals court has upheld a $50,000 damages award to two students who were often suspended from riding their public school bus because the driver objected to their body odor. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, upheld a ruling by a federal magistrate judge that awarded $25,000 each to the two children under Mississippi tort law. The magistrate found that a bus driver for the North Panola, Miss., school district had barred the students from the bus some days and had sprayed or allowed other students to spray deodorizer around ...


The Juneau, Alaska, school district has reached a settlement with former student Joseph Frederick, who was disciplined over his 2002 display of a banner that said "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," according to this story in the Juneau Empire. This struck me as interesting, because the district and a school principal won their case in the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled last year in Morse v. Frederick that the 'Bong Hits' banner was not protected speech and that the principal merited qualified immunity for disciplining the student. But a seven-year litigation saga was continuing, evidently with the possibility that Frederick ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today took up a major case about indecency on broadcast television, with the Bush administration arguing in support of government regulation of the fleeting use of expletives over the airwaves in the name of protecting children. "Most Americans still get their information and entertainment from broadcast TV," said U.S. Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre, who was representing the government in Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations Inc. (Case No. 07-582). "Broadcast TV is extremely accessible to children because all they have to do is turn it on. ... And broadcast television is still broadcast ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today took up a teachers' union case that even several justices said left them befuddled. At issue in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Assocation (Case No. 07-869) is an Idaho law that prohibits school districts and other local governments from using their payroll systems to let workers deduct amounts from their paychecks for political causes, such as for teachers' unions' political action funds. The Idaho Education Association, its Pocatello affiliate, and several other public-employee unions in the state challenged the law as an infringement of their First Amendment rights of free speech and association. The restriction ...


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