The U.S. Supreme Court issued an orders list today adding 10 new cases for its 2008-09 term, but it did not grant review of any of the dozen or so education cases that were on its agenda. The court typically meets in the week before the formal opening of its new term, which is next Monday, Oct. 6, to review the hundreds of appeals that have piled up over the summer. Among the school issues arising in those cases are student free speech, the burden of proof in special education proceedings, parents' objections to school lessons on gay tolerance, ...


A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit filed by a school district payroll supervisor who says he lost his job after asserting his rights under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, reversed a federal district judge who had ruled for the Brevard County, Fla., school district in the case. In its Sept. 30 decision in Martin v. Brevard County Public Schools , the appeals court said the payroll supervisor, Anthony G. Martin, had raised genuine factual issues in his suit and thus the ...


A state appeals court in Massachusetts has upheld the reinstatement with full back pay of three teachers who were fired by their school district for "failure to demonstrate fluency in English." A three-judge panel of the mid-level Massachusetts Court of Appeals on Sept. 25 unanimously upheld decisions by an arbitrator and a state trial court that the Lowell school district had violated the teachers' procedural rights because the teachers could not cross-examine the graders of a standardized oral-proficiency the teachers had failed. Also, the district failed to follow state guidelines by not relying first on classroom observation of the teachers' ...


Education Law Association: The group formerly known as the National Organization on Legal Problems in Education holds its annual conference in San Antonio in November, and the program is jam-packed with interesting sessions. Topics include drug testing of teachers, racial diversity in schools, cyberbullying, student free speech, religious issues in public schools, Title IX, and legal issues stemming from the No Child Left Behind Act, among many others. The conference is Nov. 19-22 at the Sheraton Gunter. Suit on Disclosure of Student Information Settled: A Virginia school district has settled a lawsuit charging that it helped a city government in ...


The U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights has weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 decision on school districts’ consideration of race in assigning students to schools. In a “Dear colleague” letter dated Aug. 28, the office boiled down nearly 180 pages of opinions by the justices in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District to barely two pages of analysis. “The Department of Education strongly encourages the use of race-neutral methods for assigning students to elementary and secondary schools,” the OCR letter says. “Genuinely race-neutral measures” such as those based ...


A federal judge has upheld the discipline of a Pennsylvania 8th grader who created a fake MySpace profile of her principal depicting him as a sex addict and a pedophile. The student, identified in court papers as J.S., and her parents challenged a 10-day suspension, arguing that the fake profile was created out of school in 2007 and was a non-threatening parody deserving of protection as free speech under the First Amendment. Judge James M. Munley of U.S. District Court in Scranton, Pa., disagreed in a Sept. 11 decision. In granting the summary judgment motion in favor of ...


A federal district judge has issued a ruling suggesting that a California teacher has a right to display banners in his public school classroom with such slogans as "In God We Trust," "One Nation Under God," and "God Bless America." Judge Roger T. Benitez of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California rejected a motion by the Poway Unified School District and other defendants to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the teacher, Bradley Johnson. Johnson, who has hung some of the banners for as long as 25 years in his classroom at Westview High School, was told ...


The Federalist Society is sponsoring a panel discussion later this month on the Jefferson County, Ky., school district's latest effort to maintain racial diversity in its schools. The discussion is Sept. 25 from 12 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. at Vincenzo's in Louisville, and features these speakers: Anurima Bhargava of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity Ted Gordon, the lawyer who represented plaintiffs who challenged the district's previous race-conscious student assignment policy Byron Leet, a lawyer representing the Jefferson County school district The moderator is Brian Fitzpatrick, a professor ...


I've returned from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, and, counting the Democratic convention in Denver, from two weeks of focus on education policy in the presidential race, so I need a fix of school law. The one big law-related event scheduled during the Republican convention was canceled. It was a forum on the impact of the 2008 election on the future of the U.S. Supreme Court, sponsored by the Federalist Society and was to feature former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson, an adviser to Sen. John McCain's campaign, and Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, an ...


Stirring the culture wars a bit just as Republicans are arriving in St. Paul, Minn., for their convention, a federal appeals court has upheld the right of a gay student group to have the same access at a Minnesota public high school for meetings and communications as other student groups. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled unanimously that the group Straights and Gays for Equality had the same right under the federal Equal Access Act to facilities as other student groups at Maple Grove High School in the ...


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