During a quiet week in mid-August, it's time to catch up with these school law developments of the past few days: Confederate Symbols in School: A Tennessee student's lawsuit challenging school restrictions on displays of the Confederate flag has gone to trial, as the Associated Press reports here. California Curriculum: A federal district judge has ruled that the University of California system may deny admissions recognition for courses at Christian high schools that used textbooks that did not meet college-preparatory standards. The schools used books that treated the Bible as an irrefutable source on historic events and taught students to ...


An Illinois high school student expelled over a gang-related confrontation in the cafeteria received sufficient due process because he was given notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard, a federal appeals court ruled today. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, unanimously held that the student and his parents were not entitled to greater due process, such as the opportunity to cross-examine school security guards or to have the services of a Spanish-language interpreter at the hearing. According to court documents, Roger Coronado Jr. was a 15-year-old student at Bolingbrook ...


A federal judge has issued an injunction barring a Virginia school district from imposing rental fees on an afterschool religious club when it waives the fees for the Boy Scouts and most school-related groups and charitable events. U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson of Newport News, Va., said in his Aug. 8 opinion that the rental policy of the Williamsburg-James City County school district likely violates the First Amendment rights of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Virginia, which sponsors the afterschool Good News Clubs promoting Christianity among voluntary attendees. The district's "policy empowers its superintendent to decide which organizations are ...


A state appellate court in California has reversed its own controversial ruling and held that parents without teaching credentials may home school their children. The 2nd District Court of Appeal said in its Aug. 8 ruling in Jonathan L. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County that state statutes and case law at one time required homeschooled children to be taught by a credentialed teacher, but "subsequent developments in the law call this conclusion into question." "Although the Legislature did not amend the statutory scheme so as to expressly permit home schooling, more recent enactments demonstrate an apparent acceptance by ...


A school's frequent placement of a disruptive special education student in a small room for "timeout" did not violate his constitutional rights, a federal appeals court has ruled. The mother of a 1st grader in the Albuquerque, N.M., school district claimed in a lawsuit that placing her son in a small, dimly lighted room for five minutes or more at a time violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure and his 14th Amendment right of due process of law. A federal district judge agreed, ruling that a teacher violated the boy's clearly established rights by placing him in ...


A federal appeals court is expected to hear arguments this fall in a challenge to a Texas law mandating a "moment of silence" to "reflect, pray, [or] meditate," the Houston Chroncle reports here. (Thanks to How Appealing for the tip.) Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a brief on Monday urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, to uphold the 2003 statute, which he says promotes patriotism and thoughtful contemplation, not religion. The brief is here, and a news release is here. A federal district judge upheld the law against a facial challenge ...


Teachers with "unsubstantiated" allegations of sexual misconduct in their personnel files deserve privacy protection, Washington state's highest court ruled today. The court ruled 6-3 against arguments by The Seattle Times newspaper that regardless of the outcome of a school district's investigation, the names of teachers alleged to have committed sexual misconduct are of legitimate public concern. "We hold that the public lacks a legitimate interest in the identities of teachers who are the subjects of unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct because the teachers’ identities do not aid in effective government oversight by the public and the teachers’ right to privacy ...


A federal judge has ruled that a Florida school district must permit a gay-straight allliance club to meet on a high school campus, rejecting the district's arguments that allowing such a club would be contrary to its abstinence-only sex education program. The July 29 ruling by U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore of Miami is the latest in a line of decisions in the federal courts that have generally required schools to treat GSAs on equal terms with other non-curricular student clubs. The judge said the case involving a proposed GSA at Okeechobee High School in the Okeechobee County ...


A mix of news from the courtroom, screen, and stage: School Speech on Gay Issues: A federal judge has issued his written opinion in a case I blogged about in which the judge in May ordered a Florida school district to cease prohibiting students from displaying pro-gay messages. The written ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak of Panama City, Fla., is here. The judge said the principal of Ponce De Leon High School was entitled to his opinion that homosexuality is wrong, but where the principal "went wrong was when he endeavored to silence the opinions of his ...


A federal appeals court has upheld a Florida law that requires students to have parental permission to opt out of daily recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. "We conclude that the state’s interest in recognizing and protecting the rights of parents on some educational issues is sufficient to justify the restriction of some students’ freedom of speech," a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, said in Frazier v. Winn. An 11th grader in Palm Beach County, Fla., challenged the statute as unconstitutional on its face. A federal ...


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