A federal appeals court on Monday revived the employment-discrimination lawsuit of a school district worker who alleges she was demoted for showing loyalty to her ousted supervisor. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, unanimously overturned a summary judgment for the Washoe County, Nev., district in the case of Kathleen Nichols, who was an administrative assistant to the district's general counsel. According to court papers, when the general counsel, Jeffrey Blanck, got into hot water with the district superintendent, Nichols was transferred to a job in the human-resources department. As ...


Members of a Virginia school board were entitled to qualified immunity from a lawsuit alleging that they illegally barred a newspaper reporter from the grounds of a public school, a federal appeals court has ruled. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va., came in the case of a community newspaper reporter, Earl F. Cole, who was barred from Buchanan County schools after several incidents, including one where he entered an elementary school and photographed students without reporting to the principal's office. Some community members also expressed concerns ...


A school district was not liable for a teacher's alleged sexual harassment of a female student, despite some past red flags about the teacher's behavior, a federal appeals court ruled. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, held that the Mitchell, S.D., school district wasn't liable under Title IX because no appropriate school official had knowledge of the harassment and the district did not act with deliberate indifference when it learned of the allegations. The case concerns a high school American government teacher who allegedly took an unusual interest ...


A federal district judge has approved a consent decree in which a Florida school district agrees to end school-sponsored religious practices, including prayers and baccalaureate services. "School officials shall neither offer nor participate in a prayer during or in conjunction with a school event," says one of many requirements set forth in the consent decree approved May 6 by U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers of Pensacola, Fla. The decree came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida on behalf of two high school students against the Santa Rosa County school district. The decree ...


A decision last Friday by a federal district judge in California in a lawsuit over a teacher's comments in the classroom is getting a lot of attention. It was even discussed on "The View" today. Judge James V. Selna of Santa Ana, Calif., ruled that a teacher's classroom statement that creationism is "superstitious nonsense" violated the rights of a student in the teacher's Advanced Placement European history course. The statement by teacher James Corbett "primarily sends a message of disapproval of religion or creationism," Judge Selna said in his May 1 opinion, and that violates the First Amendment right of ...


Souter has done his most prolific opinion writing on cases involving government aid to religion or religion in the public schools.


The U.S. Supreme Court today took up a major case involving the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with the justices debating whether Congress had the right in 2006 to extend a key section that subjects certain states and counties to greater scrutiny for discrimination in voting procedures. The case has implications for school districts in any of the states covered by Section 5 of the voting-rights law. Under that section, the states and local governments must get federal approval, or "preclearance," of any change in voting procedure. For affected school districts, that typically involves changes in district boundaries for ...


A special education case in the U.S. Supreme Court today showed that some justices are concerned about parents getting a fair shake in the system, while others worry that school districts and taxpayers must shoulder the burden for expensive private schools for some students. "I think we've got to assume that Congress has some concern for the parents who correctly say, this [individualized education plan] is no good, it just can't be done in the school system, and the kid needs a special school," Justice David H. Souter said to the lawyer representing an Oregon school district. But Chief ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear the appeal of a Kentucky family over a school's handling of a middle school student who gave a prescription Adderall pill to one of her classmates. The refusal to take up S.E. v. Grant County Board of Education (Case No. 08-927) is not a ruling on the merits, but it is interesting because the justices often hold on to appeals that raise the same or similar issues to cases they are deciding. Just last week, the court heard arguments in Safford Unified School District v. Redding, about whether the Fourth ...


With a busy week for education in the Supreme Court, I haven't had time to take note of these rulings: Arizona Private School Tax Credit: A federal appeals court revived a challenge to a state program that provides an income tax credit for contributions to private school scholarships, including at religious schools. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled 3-0 in Winn v. Arizona Christian School Organization that if the facts as alleged in a challenge are true, the tax credit program "“carries with it the imprimatur of government endorsement” ...


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