A federal appeals court has sided against a Maine parent's request to be reimbursed by a school district for several years worth of room, board, and travel expenses stemming from her son's enrollment in three out-of-state schools under a special education plan. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, in Boston, held in a Feb. 27 opinion that the school district "was under no affirmative obligation to bring to a head the issue of whether or not it should be responsible for non-tuition expenses." At stake in School Union No. 37 v. Ms. ...


My colleague David Hoff reports here in his NCLB: Act II blog that a coalition of civil rights groups has filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling that revived a major challenge to the No Child Left Behind Act as an unfunded federal mandate. The groups are joining the side of U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who earlier this month asked the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court in Pontiac School District v. Spellings. The ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear appeals in two cases involving school districts. In the first, a Georgia father was seeking the justices' review of a case in which he alleges school officials ignored repeated complaints and warnings that a 5th grade teacher was sexually abusing young female students. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled last year that a school principal and assistant principal were immune from the suit, and that the White County, Ga., school district was not liable under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 because ...


A federal appeals court has ruled that Arizona must comply with a lower-court ruling that says the state must do more to adequately fund instruction for English-language learners. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, issued its unanimous 91-page ruling late on Feb. 22 in Flores v. State of Arizona. The Associated Press reports on the decision here, and my Education Week colleague Mary Ann Zehr discusses the ruling in her Learning the Language blog here. Much of the ruling deals with the lengthy history of the lawsuit by families ...


In a significant decision in the security-conscious, post-Columbine era, a federal appeals court ruled today that video surveillance cameras installed in a middle school's locker rooms violate the Fourth Amendment privacy rights of students. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled unanimously that students have a heightened expectation of privacy in areas of a school designated for them to change clothes. In its opinion in Brannum v. Overton County School Board, the court said: Given the universal understanding among middle school age children in this country that a school locker ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear the appeal of a California school district in a controversy over a high school student's provocative newspaper editorial on immigration. The essay by Andrew D. Smith, who was a senior at Novato High School in 2001-02, was in the school's newspaper, The Buzz. The essay, which appeared Nov. 13, 2001, was titled "Immigration" and included several provocative assertions about Hispanics and immigrants, including: -- "I'll even bet that if I took a stroll through the Canal district in San Rafael that I would find a lot of people that would answer ...


A federal appeals court has ordered a lower court to reconsider its issuance of a preliminary injunction that barred the New York state education department from enforcing an emergency regulation against the use of "aversive interventions" for children with disabilities. The aversive therapies at the school at the center of the case include "skin shocks, 'contingent' food programs, and physical restraints," says the opinion by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City. The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center is in Canton, Mass., but it has served hundreds of students from ...


Public school officials may restrict speech disparaging homosexuality, a federal district judge has ruled. The Feb. 12 decision is the latest in a long-running case stemming from an incident in which a California high school student wore a T-shirt with hand-lettered messages that said, “Homosexuality is shameful. Romans 1:21,” and “Be ashamed." "In this court’s view, a school’s interest in protecting homosexual students from harassment is a legitimate pedagogical concern that allows a school to restrict speech expressing damaging statements about sexual orientation and limiting students to expressing their views in a positive manner," said the ruling ...


A federal appeals court has upheld a district court's finding that the Madison County, Miss., school district had achieved unitary status and thus could be released from decades of court supervision for its desegregation efforts. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled unanimously on Feb. 11 in Anderson v. School Board of Madison County that the 11,000-student school system had "eliminated the vestiges of its former de jure segregated school system to the extent practicable." In 2005, at the time the district court was considering the Madison County ...


A federal appeals court today rejected a lawsuit by two Illinois school districts and four families that said the No Child Left Behind Act was in conflict with the main federal special education law. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, ruled unanimously in Board of Education of Ottawa Township High School District 140 v. Spellings that the "plaintiffs' claim is too weak to justify continued litigation." The Ottawa high school district, along with Ottawa Elementary School District 141 and the parents of four students in special education, had sued in ...


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