The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it would take up an appeal examining whether Title IX provides the exclusive legal remedy for cases of sex discrimination in public schools. The court will seek to settle a split in the federal appeals courts over whether an older, broader federal civil rights law, known as Section 1983, also provides a basis for lawsuits alleging sex discrimination in education. Lawyers for a Massachusetts family argued in an appeal that claims under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 "are subject to very real limitations." For example, the Supreme Court has ...


In a decision with implications for school districts in many parts of the country, a federal court has upheld the extension by Congress of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A special three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Washington unanimously upheld the 25-year extension of the voting-rights law's Section 5, which requires federal approval for any changes in election procedures in specified states and counties with a history of discrimination in voting on the basis of race or language-minority status. The provision requires federal approval, or "preclearance," typically by the U.S. Department ...


A federal appeals court has ruled that a student's off-campus blog remarks created a "foreseeable risk of substantial disruption" at her high school and thus she was not entitled to a preliminary injunction reversing her discipline. A suit filed on behalf of Avery Doninger alleged that she was barred from serving in a student office because of derogatory comments she wrote about school officials on a Web blogging site. In a controversy over the scheduling of a social event at Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington, Conn., Doninger wrote in an entry in her public blog at the site ...


A federal appeals court has revived the disability-discrimination lawsuit of an employee in the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights. Robert Pinkerton was dismissed in 2002 as an equal-opportunity specialist in the Dallas regional office of the department's civil-rights branch for what court papers describe as "unacceptable performance." Pinkerton, who has physical disabilities, sued the Education Department under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 alleging discrimination and retaliation. A jury sided with the department in the case. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled unanimously ...


The U.S. Department of Justice is urging the Supreme Court not to take up an appeal stemming from a lawsuit that contends that a state teachers' exam has a disparate impact on black and Latino test-takers in the New York City school system. As I reported in Education Week here, a group of black and Latino teachers in New York City sued New York state and the New York City school system in 1996. The plaintiffs alleged that two tests used by the state had a racially disparate impact on African-American and Latino test-takers, and that those in the ...


A federal appeals court has revived a Chicago teacher's claim that her transfer from a full-time position as a bilingual teacher was in violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, ruled unanimously that Valerie T. Filar, who was 69 in 1999 when she was moved to a full-time substitute's position, should have a chance to prove her age-discrimination claim in a trial court. "Because the only salient difference between Filar and the younger teachers was age, a jury could conclude that age ...


Zelma Henderson, the last surviving plaintiff of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation lawsuit against the Topeka school system, has died at age 88 after a fight against pancreatic cancer, according to news reports. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports here, and the Associated Press reports here. The Topeka paper reports that Henderson grew up in Oakley, Kan., "where she attended school and socialized with whites. She resented the segregation she encountered after moving to Topeka in the 1940s." Her children, Donald, 6, and Vicki, 4, attended classes at the all-black McKinley Elementary School in Topeka at the time the lawsuit ...


I have just received word about the annual School Law Institute that is held in the summer at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. The institute is July 14-18, and is aimed at lawyers, administrators, teachers, policy analysts, journalists, and anyone else with an interest in education law. Among the issues to be addressed are: school safety, equity, special education, student and teacher free speech, and religion in the public schools. The faculty includes Jay P. Heubert of Teachers College and Columbia Law School; Gary Orfield, the renowned desegregation expert and a professor at the UCLA Graduate School ...


A federal appeals court has ruled that a child welfare caseworker violated the Fourth Amendment when she conducted "strip searches" of two students at a private school without a warrant or the consent of parents or school officials. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, ruled unanimously that the caseworker did not merit qualified immunity in a lawsuit over the search because it was clearly established in the circuit about when such searches by child-welfare workers could be carried out at private schools. "Today we reiterate ... that it is a violation ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 7-2 that states may continue to exempt from state income taxes interest on municipal bonds issued within the state, while taxing interest on out-of-state bonds. Since the decision in Department of Revenue of Kentucky v. Davis (Case No. 06-666) was the one the municipal bond industry was hoping for and expecting, the whole industry breathed a sigh of relief. Experts had said a ruling the other way might have destabilized the market for muni bonds, which are vital to school districts and other local government agencies. Bloomberg News reports here, and the Associated ...


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