I have two stories in next week's Education Week that I thought might bear mentioning here. The first involves the Chicago corruption trial of businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko. What does that have to do with education? Find out in my story here. But I'll also give you a clue. Many of the federal government's fraud charges involve Rezko's alleged role in manipulating investment contracts of the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System. For those who really like digging into legal documents, the government's indictment is here, a key "proffer" detailing its case is here, and a response by Rezko's lawyers is here. (The...


The Washington state constitution provides more protection from suspicionless searches than the federal constitution does, the state supreme court held today in striking down a school district's drug-testing policy for student athletes. "We decline to adopt a doctrine similar to the federal special needs exception in the context of randomly drug testing student athletes," said a plurality opinion by four justices on the nine-member court. The state constitutional provision at issue says, "No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law." The plurality notes that the state supreme court "has a long ...


A federal district judge has turned away an initial legal challenge to the Jefferson County, Ky., school district's racial diversity plan developed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the district's earlier plan. The Associated Press reports here, and the Louisville Courier-Journal reports here. The revised plan will use geography to maintain racial diversity in the district's schools. I blogged about the plan here when it was released in January. According to the news accounts, U.S. District Judge John Heybourn II of Louisville told the lawyer challenging the new plan, Teddy Gordon, that ...


The season for graduation-prayer controversies is upon us. But a prayer lawsuit in Texas appears to have been settled somewhat amicably. A federal district judge in Austin has approved a settlement that bars the Round Rock Independent School District from allowing students to vote on whether to have any form of prayer, benediction, or invocation at graduation ceremonies. The suit by unidentified plaintiffs was backed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington. The group's press release is here, and the settlement document is here. The settlement says such student votes will be barred unless the U.S....


A college math teacher who was dismissed after altering her state loyalty oath has been reinstated, two California newspapers report. I blogged here about Marianne Kearney-Brown, a Quaker graduate student who was teaching remedial math at California State University-East Bay. Citing the Quaker religion's commitment to non-violence, Kearney-Brown inserted the word "nonviolently" in front of the state Oath of Allegiance's language calling on her to swear or affirm that she would "support and defend" the state and U.S. constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic." The oath is required of K-12 public school employees in California, too, and Kearney-Brown ...


A state appellate court ruling in California is raising major questions about the rights of parents in that state to home school their children, and that is causing a big stir. "It is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public full-time day school is required by California law for minor children unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught, or (3) one of the other few statutory exemptions ...


Here's a case to keep an eye on: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, in New York City, heard arguments yesterday in the case of a Connecticut high school student who contends that she was barred from serving in a student office because of derogatory comments she wrote about school officials on a Web blogging site. The Associated Press reports on the arguments here, and the Hartford Courant reports here. Both accounts say the three members of the 2nd Circuit panel seemed especially engaged in the case of Avery Doninger, who wrote disparaging remarks about school ...


A school administrator's alleged statement to a black teacher that "white people teach black kids ... better than someone from their own race" was direct evidence of race discrimination, a federal appeals court has ruled. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, unanimously revived the race-bias lawsuit of the teacher, Mary King, against the Columbia, Mo., district and Russell Hardesty, an administrator in the district. King alleges that while she worked in a substitute teaching job in the district, Hardesty made several racially derogatory comments, including the comment that white teachers ...


A federal appeals court says an Illinois family offered "absolutely no evidence to support their theory" that they faced retaliation for the parents raising concerns about their daughter's treatment by the high school softball coach. In fact, the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, ordered the parents to explain why they shouldn't be held responsible for the attorneys' fees of the defendants, which included the softball coach and principal of Morton Community High School, and the superintendent and school board members of Morton Community Unit School District 709 in suburban Chicago. The ...


A public college in California has fired a math teacher after six weeks on the job because she altered her mandatory state Oath of Allegiance form, the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting. California State University-East Bay took the action against Marianne Kearney-Brown, a Quaker graduate student who was teaching remedial math on the campus, because she inserted the word "nonviolently" in front of the oath's language calling on her to swear or affirm that she would "support and defend" the state and U.S. constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic," the newspaper reports. The oath is required of all ...


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