The Indiana Supreme Court has thrown out a finding of child delinquency for a middle school student who posted a vulgarity-laced tirade against her principal on MySpace. A student identified in court papers as A.B. was charged with harassment for the messages aimed at Shawn Gobert, her principal at Greencastle Middle School in Greencastle, Ind., including one that said "die ... Gobert ... die." In an apparent dispute over body piercings during the 2005-06 school year, the student contributed one vulgar tirade to a MySpace page that was purportedly the principal's, but had been set up by another student, according to ...


A federal district judge has ordered a Florida school district to cease prohibiting students from displaying pro-gay slogans and logos. U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak of Panama City, Fla., issued an oral ruling after a two-day trial in the lawsuit brought by Heather Gillman, a straight student at Ponce de Leon High School who says she was barred from displaying rainbow stickers and phrases such as "Gay Pride" and "I Support My Gay Friends." The suit, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, alleged that the Holmes County school district in Florida's Panhandle prohibited all symbols and ...


A federal appeals court today upheld a school district's mandatory school uniform policy in the face of a multi-pronged First Amendment challenge. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled 2-1 to uphold the uniform policy of the Clark County, Nev., school district, which includes Las Vegas. "In a case of first impression in this circuit, we ... largely conclude that public school mandatory dress policies survive constitutional scrutiny," said the majority opinion by Judge Michael Daly Hawkins in Jacobs v. Clark County School District. The case involves a 2003 policy that ...


The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to hear the appeal of an Ohio superintendent in a lawsuit brought by a parent who says she faced retaliation for publicly criticizing the school district's treatment of her daughter, who has diabetes. The court's refusal without comment to hear the appeal in Evans v. Jenkins (Case No. 07-1210) means that the parent's suit will go forward on a First Amendment retaliation claim. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, had ruled unanimously in January to reinstate the First Amendment claim brought by Shara ...


This almost seems made up, but it's not. A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a Texas man's lawsuit alleging that a school district wrongly refused to hire him despite his 13 felony convictions. The applicant, James J. Crook, was a lawyer who was convicted of barratry, which my legal dictionary defines as the crime of instigating groundless judicial proceedings. After losing his license to practice law, Crook got a job as a substitute teacher in the El Paso, Texas, school district, according to court papers. His suit said he applied multiple times for a permanent position as ...


It's been a little quiet on the school law front the last couple of days, but here are a few tidbits: IDEA Expert Witnesses: Over at her On Special Education blog, my Education Week colleague Christina A. Samuels has this report on the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act, a bill introduced in Congress that is designed to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy. The bill would amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to allow the prevailing party in an IDEA suit to recover the costs of expert witnesses. Indiana School Finance: Over ...


Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, gave a speech today at Wake Forest University designed to outline his judicial views in which he cited a famous legal challenge to the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. The campaign put out this press release, as well as the text of his remarks. He says that if given the opportunity, he will appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices in the mold of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. McCain cited cases in which he thinks courts have run amok by ...


A federal appeals court today agreed to re-examine a ruling by a panel of the court that revived a lawsuit challenging the No Child Left Behind Act for imposing unfunded mandates on states and school districts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, announced that the entire 14-member court would rehear the case of Pontiac School District v. Spellings. The court's brief order is here. The rehearing was sought by Bush administration lawyers on behalf of Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings after a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit ruled on Jan. 7 that the ...


A federal appeals court has rejected a constitutional challenge to a federal law that restricts, and in some cases bars, students with drug convictions from participation in federal college aid programs. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled in Students for Sensible Drug Policy Foundation v. Spellings that the controversial sanctions do not violate the double-jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment. The student group argued that the primary purpose of the law is deterrence of criminal action, so the secondary sanction on those convicted of drug crimes is form ...


A federal district judge has ruled against the state of Connecticut in its lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings over the administration of the No Child Left Behind Act. U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz of New Haven, Conn., issued a decision Monday rejecting the last of the state's claims. The judge had dismissed other claims in the suit in 2006. Judge Kravitz turned away Connecticut's efforts to have the federal court overturn Secretary Spellings' administrative decision turning down the state's request seeking greater flexibility in testing students in special education and English-language learners under the ...


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