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 ...


The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled 6-3 that random searches by drug-sniffing dogs in schools violate students' right to privacy. In Her Majesty the Queen v. A.M. , the nation's top court upheld two lower courts that had thrown out drug-possession charges of a student whose backpack had been searched after a police dog alerted to it and the police found marijuana and mushrooms. The principal of St. Patrick School in Sarnia, Ontario, had invited police to conduct the warrantless search. Students were kept in their classrooms while the dog sniffed their backpacks. The majority on the Supreme Court ...


Today we deal with Truth, justice, and the Connecticut way: Equal Access Act: A federal appeals court ruled today that a Washington state school district did not violate the federal Equal Access Act or the First Amendment by denying recognition to a student Bible club because the club's charter conflicted with the district's non-discrimination policy. However, because there were questions about whether the district violated the group's rights by refusing to exempt it from the policy based either on its religion or the content of its speech, the court reversed a summary judgment order in favor of the school district ...


A federal appeals court has ordered that an Illinois student be allowed to wear a T-shirt that says "Be Happy, Not Gay" to protest the annual Day of Silence in support of gay students. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, unanimously rejected arguments from the Indian Prairie school district in suburban Chicago that it should be able to bar a student from wearing the shirt on the school day after the Day of Silence because it would be derogatory and offensive to some students. " 'Be Happy, Not Gay' is only ...


A New York state appeals court upheld the New York City school system's controversial rules prohibiting students from carrying cell phones in schools, the Associated Press reports. The ruling in Price v. New York City Board of Education comes from the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division. Keep in mind that in New York, the Supreme Court is the trial court level, the Supreme Court Appellate Division is the intermediate appeals court, and the Court of Appeals is the state's highest court. "Ultimately, while the parents present cogent reasons why they would like their children to carry cell phones ...


A lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Education's regulations on highly qualified teachers under the No Child Left Behind Act goes before a federal district judge in San Francisco on Wednesday. Public Advocates, one of the groups behind the suit, issued this media advisory. The suit contends that the NCLB statute defines a "highly qualified" teacher as one who has a full state teaching credential, while the Education Department's regulations improperly count teachers in alternative-certification programs as meeting the standard. The complaint is here. Education Week reported on the suit here last year. This case should be worth watching, ...


How's that for a mix? Your School Law Blogger has been busy this week, what with Pope Benedict XVI tying up traffic here in Washington and other events. So here are some unrelated items: Day of Silence: The annual protest in schools for tolerance of gay students takes place next Friday, April 25. I have this story in next week's Education Week about the event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and about counter events, particularly the Day of Truth sponsored by the Alliance Defense Fund, which is held on the school day after the Day of ...


A high school football coach with a long history of participating in, and sometimes leading, his team's prayers may not continue to bow his head for pre-meal grace or take a knee during pre-game prayers, a federal appeals court ruled today. Two judges on the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, said the history of Marcus Borden, the head football coach at East Brunswick High School in New Jersey, was critical to their ruling, which overturned a federal district court opinion that had allowed the coach to bow and kneel, so ...


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