The educational and fiscal ramifications of the federal No Child Left Behind Act came under legal review today in an ornate federal appeals courtroom here in Cincinnati. Of course, only a legal question was at issue before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit: whether a group of school districts backed by the National Education Association has a case in challenging the federal education law as an unfunded mandate. “States and school districts are prisoners of this law,” Robert H. Chanin, the general counsel of the NEA, told 14 of the appeals court’s 16 active ...


The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, hears arguments Wednesday in a major legal challenge to the No Child Left Behind Act. The court will consider a lawsuit backed by the National Education Association that argues the federal education law imposes unfunded mandates on states and school districts in conflict with its own language. A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit court ruled 2-1 on Jan. 7 that the states were not on clear notice of their potential financial obligations when they agreed to accept federal funding under the No Child Left Behind law. ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal on behalf of a Michigan student who sought to distribute Christian messages to his fellow public school students as part of a school assignment. The justices refused to review the appeal by the parents of Joel Curry, who was a 5th grader in 2003 when he sought to distribute candy-cane shaped Christmas ornaments as part of a class assignment on marketing a product. School officials approved his product, but the student then added a booklet to each ornament conveying Christian meanings about the candy cane, such as that the ...


A real hodge-podge at the end of the week: Age-Discrimination Case Granted: The U.S. Supreme Court today granted review of a case with implications for standards of proof in certain job-discrimination cases. In Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc. (Case No. 08-441), the justices will examine whether plaintiffs in non-Title VII cases must present direct evidence of job bias to get a jury instruction for a so-called mixed motive liability standard. Such a standard, which applies when there are legitimate and illegitimate reasons for an adverse job action, generally makes it easier for a plaintiff to prevail. The court ...


The U.S. Supreme Court took up arguments today in a case that will determine whether Title IX is the exlusive remedy for claims of sex discrimination in education. That much we knew going into Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee (Case No. 07-1125). We don't know that much more about how the case will turn out after the hourlong arguments, much of which were bogged down by threshold questions about whether the court granted the right case to decide the issue. While three or four of the justices were actively engaged in the argument, several normally active questioners, including Justices ...


The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on Tuesday in a case that will determine whether Title IX provides the exclusive legal remedy for claims of sex discrimination against schools. The appeal in Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee (Case No. 07-1125) is being watched closely by civil rights groups, on one side, and school groups on the other. The question is whether Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs, precludes victims from also suing under a broader federal civil rights law known as Section 1983. That ...


A federal appeals court today revived part of a lawsuit that challenges a Tennessee school district's decision to contract out its alternative education program to a private Christian school. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, voted 2-1 to revive the suit challenging the Jefferson County, Tenn., school board's decision to use the religious school as a violation of the First Amendment's prohibition against government establishment of religion. The majority in Smith v. Jefferson County School Board said there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the day program ...


The federal No Child Left Behind Act does not provide a private right to sue over its parental-notice and tutoring provisions, a federal appeals court has ruled. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, ruled unanimously on Nov. 20 in a case brought by a parents' group in Newark, N.J. "The overall structure of the act supports the conclusion that Congress did not intend to confer enforceable individual rights" under the parental-notice and supplemental education services provisions, the court said in Newark Parents Association v. Newark Public Schools. The court ...


San Antonio—Where do you get your information about school law? That’s a question two scholars here at the Education Law Association meeting asked in a survey of school lawyers, professors who teach school law, and others. The survey by Justin M. Bathon, an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Kentucky, and Kevin P. Brady, an assistant professor in the same field at North Carolina State University, was based on a small sample. Still, there were interesting findings. Legal textbooks were the most cited category of resource for school law information, following by Internet-based searches, case ...


San Antonio—On-the-job speech by teachers and other public school employees is getting less protection in the courts. That’s the conclusion of two scholars presenting here at the annual meeting of the Education Law Association. The Dayton, Ohio-based group is made up of K-12 educators, school lawyers, and many professors who teach school law as part of educational leadership programs. Richard T. Geisel, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Brenda R. Kallio, an associate professor in that discipline at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, analyzed recent ...


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