U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a group of high school students today that they should study the U.S. Constitution and its Framers in greater depth and should only consider the legal profession if they are prepared to work hard. "How many of your have read the Federalist Papers?" the justice asked a group of students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. When several hands shot up, he said, "All of them?" Far fewer hands appeared. "You should have a hardback, dogeared copy on your desk" of the set of articles ...


A Kentucky student who asserted that his school district's policy against student harassment chilled any potential speech of his against homosexuality today lost in a federal appeals court. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled 2-1 that Timothy Morrison did not present a "justiciable" controversy because the former student at Boyd County High School was suing for nominal damages over an abandoned school board policy. "The claim at stake here involves Morrison's choice to chill his own speech based on his perception that he would be disciplined for speaking," said the ...


This week's issue of Education Week has the following school-law related stories: Teachers' Union Deductions: This story is a slightly longer version of last week's post and Web-only story about the U.S. Supreme Court accepting review of an appeal from the state of Idaho over its law that prohibits school districts from using their payroll systems to deduct from employees' paychecks for the unions' political activities. Student's IM Threat: I have this story that expands on last week's post about the high court declining to review the appeal of a student suspended for using an icon for his AOL ...


Over at How Appealing, Howard Bashman reports on a lawsuit challenging the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race in admissions. A white student sued the university over how it considers race after admitting students under its famous 10 percent plan, in which students finishing in the top 10 percent of graduating classes at Texas high schools are automatically accepted at the Austin campus. The Houston Chronicle reports here. The lawsuit by the Project on Fair Representation is here. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, backers of a petition drive to end race and gender preferences in public employment, public education, and ...


Over at the Education Intelligence Agency, union watchdog Mike Antonucci reports on a federal court decision that means more state and local affiliates of the big teachers' unions will have to start complying with U.S. Department of Labor disclosure requirements. The decision by the U.S. District Court in Washington in Alabama Education Association v. Chao is here. The court ruled that Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao made a reasonable interpretation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 when she decided that it should now cover public-sector unions. At the national level, the American Federation of ...


The Washington Post has created quite a discussion with this story about a 1st grader who was allegedly disciplined by school officials for sexual harassment of a fellow student on the playground. The boy smacked a classmate on her bottom, and school officials filed a report on him under the category, "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive." ABC's "Good Morning America" picked up on the story today. While the Post's story had a discussion of relevant state laws in its circulation area, there was little more than passing reference to federal case law and regulations on peer sexual harassment under Title ...


Here are a few unrelated school news developments: Turnitin.com: Over at The Edjurist Accord blog, Justin Bathon has tipped us off about the dismissal of a copyright lawsuit brought by students against the company that operates Turnitin.com, an anti-plagiarism Web site. Education Week reported last year on the filing of the lawsuit, which said the company was infringing the rights of students who were required by their schools to submit essays for analysis in Turnitin.com's database. The ruling dismissing the suit is here. Michigan Girls' Athletics: A federal judge has ordered the Michigan High School Athletic Association ...


Lorena Jeanne Tinker, the mother of two students at the center of one of the U.S. Supreme Court's most significant rulings on free speech rights in schools, has died. Mrs. Tinker was the mother of John and Mary Beth Tinker, who wore black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War in 1965, leading to the landmark 1969 Supreme Court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. The court held that wearing such armbands was symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment as long as school was not substantially disrupted. Mrs. Tinker, who had two other ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review the case of an 8th-grader who was suspended for an off-campus Internet message with a drawing that suggested a teacher should be shot and killed. The justices declined without comment to hear the appeal of the family in Wisniewski v. Board of Education of the Weedsport Central School District (Case No. 07-987). According to court papers, Aaron Wisniewski was a student at Weedsport Middle School in 2001 when he sent an instant message on America Online to a friend with an icon featuring a pistol firing bullets at a person's head, ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to review an Idaho state law that bars school districts and other local government agencies from making deductions from union members' paychecks for the unions' political activities. The court accepted the state's appeal in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association (Case No. 07-869), in which the state is defending the federal constitutionality of its Voluntary Contributions Act. The law was passed in 2003, and was challenged by the Idaho Education Association, its Pocatello local, and other public employee unions in the state. The ruling below by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ...


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