Teachers with "unsubstantiated" allegations of sexual misconduct in their personnel files deserve privacy protection, Washington state's highest court ruled today. The court ruled 6-3 against arguments by The Seattle Times newspaper that regardless of the outcome of a school district's investigation, the names of teachers alleged to have committed sexual misconduct are of legitimate public concern. "We hold that the public lacks a legitimate interest in the identities of teachers who are the subjects of unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct because the teachers’ identities do not aid in effective government oversight by the public and the teachers’ right to privacy ...


A federal judge has ruled that a Florida school district must permit a gay-straight allliance club to meet on a high school campus, rejecting the district's arguments that allowing such a club would be contrary to its abstinence-only sex education program. The July 29 ruling by U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore of Miami is the latest in a line of decisions in the federal courts that have generally required schools to treat GSAs on equal terms with other non-curricular student clubs. The judge said the case involving a proposed GSA at Okeechobee High School in the Okeechobee County ...


A mix of news from the courtroom, screen, and stage: School Speech on Gay Issues: A federal judge has issued his written opinion in a case I blogged about in which the judge in May ordered a Florida school district to cease prohibiting students from displaying pro-gay messages. The written ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak of Panama City, Fla., is here. The judge said the principal of Ponce De Leon High School was entitled to his opinion that homosexuality is wrong, but where the principal "went wrong was when he endeavored to silence the opinions of his ...


A federal appeals court has upheld a Florida law that requires students to have parental permission to opt out of daily recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. "We conclude that the state’s interest in recognizing and protecting the rights of parents on some educational issues is sufficient to justify the restriction of some students’ freedom of speech," a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, said in Frazier v. Winn. An 11th grader in Palm Beach County, Fla., challenged the statute as unconstitutional on its face. A federal ...


And that may have implications for prayers at school board meetings, in my view. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va., upheld a policy requiring that prayers delivered at the beginning of meetings of the Fredericksburg, Va., city council be nondenominational. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor served on the panel by designation, and she wrote the opinion for a unanimous court. "The restriction that prayers be nonsectarian in nature is designed to make the prayers accessible to people who come from a variety of backgrounds, not ...


A federal appeals court today struck down a federal law aimed at protecting children from Internet pornography by imposing criminal penalties on commercial Web publishers who fail to restrict access to sexually explicit sites. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia, ruled unanimously in American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey that the Child Online Protection Act violates the First and Fifth Amendments on its face. The law, enacted in 1998 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a broader effort by Congress to protect children from sexually explicit content on ...


A strip search of an 8th grader by school authorities looking for Ibuprofen pills violated the student's rights under the Fourth Amendment, a federal appeals court has ruled. In a significant decision in a closely watched case on students' rights and administrators' liability, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled 8-3 on July 11 that officials at an Arizona middle school "acted contrary to all reason and common sense as they trampled over" the privacy interests of student Savana Redding. However, the "en banc" 11th Circuit panel split 6-5 in holding that the assistant principal who ...


I probably should have noted this sooner, but I am on vacation this week. However, Education Week just posted my final U.S. Supreme Court story of the term that ended late last month. Embedded in the Web page of the story is a review of cases of interest to educators in the 2008-09 term. I'll be back to the blog next week....


A federal appeals court ruled today that authorities violated the rights of members of an anti-abortion group by ordering them to stop driving a truck displaying large, graphic images of aborted fetuses around a California middle school. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled unanimously in Center for Bio-Ethical Reform v. Los Angeles County Sheriff Department that a California statute that bars disruption on or near school grounds could not be applied under the First Amendment to efforts by the anti-abortion group to drive its truck around Dodson Middle ...


Maine's highest court has ruled that towns may not provide a subsidy to parents who pay tuition to send their children to private religious schools. Meanwhile, Arizona's highest court has issued an order permitting two state voucher programs that cover private religious schools to continue, but the state legislature has declined to provide any funding for the programs next year. In the Maine case, the state's Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously on July 1 in Joyce v. State of Maine that a state law that prohibits the use of public funds to directly pay tuition at private religious schools also ...


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