Education Law Association: The group formerly known as the National Organization on Legal Problems in Education holds its annual conference in San Antonio in November, and the program is jam-packed with interesting sessions. Topics include drug testing of teachers, racial diversity in schools, cyberbullying, student free speech, religious issues in public schools, Title IX, and legal issues stemming from the No Child Left Behind Act, among many others. The conference is Nov. 19-22 at the Sheraton Gunter. Suit on Disclosure of Student Information Settled: A Virginia school district has settled a lawsuit charging that it helped a city government in ...


The U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights has weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 decision on school districts’ consideration of race in assigning students to schools. In a “Dear colleague” letter dated Aug. 28, the office boiled down nearly 180 pages of opinions by the justices in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District to barely two pages of analysis. “The Department of Education strongly encourages the use of race-neutral methods for assigning students to elementary and secondary schools,” the OCR letter says. “Genuinely race-neutral measures” such as those based ...


A federal judge has upheld the discipline of a Pennsylvania 8th grader who created a fake MySpace profile of her principal depicting him as a sex addict and a pedophile. The student, identified in court papers as J.S., and her parents challenged a 10-day suspension, arguing that the fake profile was created out of school in 2007 and was a non-threatening parody deserving of protection as free speech under the First Amendment. Judge James M. Munley of U.S. District Court in Scranton, Pa., disagreed in a Sept. 11 decision. In granting the summary judgment motion in favor of ...


A federal district judge has issued a ruling suggesting that a California teacher has a right to display banners in his public school classroom with such slogans as "In God We Trust," "One Nation Under God," and "God Bless America." Judge Roger T. Benitez of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California rejected a motion by the Poway Unified School District and other defendants to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the teacher, Bradley Johnson. Johnson, who has hung some of the banners for as long as 25 years in his classroom at Westview High School, was told ...


The Federalist Society is sponsoring a panel discussion later this month on the Jefferson County, Ky., school district's latest effort to maintain racial diversity in its schools. The discussion is Sept. 25 from 12 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. at Vincenzo's in Louisville, and features these speakers: Anurima Bhargava of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity Ted Gordon, the lawyer who represented plaintiffs who challenged the district's previous race-conscious student assignment policy Byron Leet, a lawyer representing the Jefferson County school district The moderator is Brian Fitzpatrick, a professor ...


I've returned from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, and, counting the Democratic convention in Denver, from two weeks of focus on education policy in the presidential race, so I need a fix of school law. The one big law-related event scheduled during the Republican convention was canceled. It was a forum on the impact of the 2008 election on the future of the U.S. Supreme Court, sponsored by the Federalist Society and was to feature former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson, an adviser to Sen. John McCain's campaign, and Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, an ...


Stirring the culture wars a bit just as Republicans are arriving in St. Paul, Minn., for their convention, a federal appeals court has upheld the right of a gay student group to have the same access at a Minnesota public high school for meetings and communications as other student groups. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled unanimously that the group Straights and Gays for Equality had the same right under the federal Equal Access Act to facilities as other student groups at Maple Grove High School in the ...


Pennsylvania's record-keeping requirements for home-schoolers do not violate families' free-exercise-of-religion rights under the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court ruled today. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, unanimously rejected a First Amendment challenge by six home-schooling families who argued that the requirements infringe on their sincerely held Christian religious beliefs. Under state law, parents who home school their children must provide instruction for a minimum number of days and hours in certain subjects and must submit a portfolio of teaching logs and the children’s work product for review by ...


A federal appeals court today upheld a prohibition on displaying the Confederate flag in a Tennessee high school that had experienced racial tensions. "The facts in this case ... indicate that school officials could reasonably forecast that permitting students to wear clothing depicting the Confederate flag would cause disruptions to the school environment,'' said the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati. The decision in Barr v. LaFon upholds summary judgment in favor of the Blount County, Tenn., school district and administrators in a challenge to the prohibition ...


I took a vacation day on Friday, thinking that the school law beat would be relatively quiet in the middle of August. But all kinds of stories were breaking ... Violent Essay: A Minnesota high school student's creative-writing class story about a student who murders his teacher and commits suicide was not speech protected by the First Amendment, a federal appeals court has ruled. The court upheld seizure of the 17-year-old student by county authorities for a psychiatric evaluation. "This lengthy essay describing an obsession with weapons and gore, a hatred for his English teacher with a similar name who had ...


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