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 ...


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 ...


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