I just ran across this federal appeals court opinion from last week in a criminal case, and I think it is a great cautionary tale for schools. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, on April 7 upheld the mail-fraud conviction of a man who bilked a number of schools, teachers, and parents in the Miami area out of money for tickets to a Christmas pagaent that never took place. According to court papers, David Lee Ellisor approached public and private school teachers in the fall of 2003 to urge them to ...


A federal appeals court has partially revived the lawsuit of a charter school teacher who claimed she lost her job because she objected on religious grounds to an event where staff members imbibed in alcoholic drinks. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, ruled unanimously to revive the lawsuit filed by Jessica Wilkerson against the New Media Technology Charter School in Philadelphia. The suit, filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, claimed that the charter school didn't renew Wilkerson's contract after she ...


The parties in the long-running desegregation case in Hartford, Conn., have reached a tentative settlement "that seeks to reshape how the state addresses persistent racial isolation" in that city's schools, the Hartford Courant reports here. The Courant has posted the settlement document here. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund has this press release, and the American Civil Liberties Union has this release. The Sheff v. O'Neill suit in the state's courts has been going on for nearly two decades. Education Week last reported on the case here and here....


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 ...


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