March 2008 Archives

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review the case of an 8th-grader who was suspended for an off-campus Internet message with a drawing that suggested a teacher should be shot and killed. The justices declined without comment to hear the appeal of the family in Wisniewski v. Board of Education of the Weedsport Central School District (Case No. 07-987). According to court papers, Aaron Wisniewski was a student at Weedsport Middle School in 2001 when he sent an instant message on America Online to a friend with an icon featuring a pistol firing bullets at a person's head, ...


The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to review an Idaho state law that bars school districts and other local government agencies from making deductions from union members' paychecks for the unions' political activities. The court accepted the state's appeal in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association (Case No. 07-869), in which the state is defending the federal constitutionality of its Voluntary Contributions Act. The law was passed in 2003, and was challenged by the Idaho Education Association, its Pocatello local, and other public employee unions in the state. The ruling below by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ...


The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” student speech was not a grand slam for educators, a lawyer said today at the Council of School Attorneys meeting in Orlando. “I don’t think we even hit a double,” Michael E. Smith said in his analysis of Morse v. Frederick. In that case, the court held that the “Bong Hits” banner displayed at a school-related event by a high school student was not protected under the First Amendment. The justices also held that the principal who disciplined the student should have been given ...


The U.S. Supreme Court’s major decision from last year on race in K-12 education is still being debated among educators, lawyers, and others. That much was clear during the opening session of the National School Boards Association’s Council of School Attorneys meeting here in Orlando. The court’s decision in Seattle School District v. Parents Involved in Community Schools was the basis for a sharp, but civil, 90-minute discussion. “Our nation is not yet color blind,” said Anurima Bhargava, the director of education practice for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City. She ...


The next issue of Education Week will have these school law-related stories, which are available on our Web site now. My colleague Alyson Klein has this story about the Department of Education's proposed new regulations on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which include provisions about the sharing of information about potentially dangerous students. And I have this Law & Courts column on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this week to grant review of a case that will allow the justices to reconsider an important precedent on qualified immunity for public officials. In granting review in Pearson v. Callahan (a...


A state appellate court in California says it will reconsider its controversial ruling that parents have no state constitutional right to home school their children, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Education Week reported on the Feb. 28 decision by the 2nd District California Court of Appeal here, and I blogged about it here. The court said state law requires children to be taught by credentialed teachers, a decision that had the home-schooling community up in arms. The Chronicle story says that while it is not unusual for appellate courts in the state to reconsider rulings and then make only minor, ...


An en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, is hearing oral arguments today in the case of a student who challenged a strip search conducted by school officials looking for prescription drugs. I blogged about the case of Redding v. Safford Unified School District here in January, when the 9th Circuit agreed to have a larger panel of judges review the case. The September 2007 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit in favor of school officials in the case, which has been essentially set aside by the ...


A few odds and ends at the end of the week: ACLU Lawsuit Over Poor Graduation Rates: My Education Week colleague Christina Samuels has this story about the American Civil Liberties Union-backed lawsuit claiming that the Palm Beach County, Fla., school district's low graduation rate violates the state constitution's guarantee of a "high-quality" education. Over at The Edjurist Accord, Justin Bathon has this post calling the lawsuit "very creative," even if he believes its chances of success are slim. NYC Principal Loses Another Round: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City has denied ...


Lawyers for the National Education Association are urging a federal appeals court not to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that revived the union's legal challenge to the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals of the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, is considering whether to give "en banc," or full court, review of Pontiac School District v. Spellings. The panel ruled in January that the states were not on clear notice of their potential financial obligations when they agreed to accept federal funding under the No Child Left Behind law. In its ...


I've been away for a couple of days for a St. Patrick's Day visit to New York City, but I wanted to note a couple of developments at the U.S. Supreme Court this week. District of Columbia Handgun Ban Yesterday, the justices heard arguments in a major case on gun rights. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the court will explore the scope of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Amid the hundreds of pages of friend-of-the-court briefs filed in the case, a couple bear mentioning here in the School Law Blog. The city of Chicago ...


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 ...


Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments

  • shutters: Its difficult once your kids get older to keep them read more
  • Joel Reidenberg: The study does not challenge the value to local schools read more
  • Joe: So, public schools are collecting their students' data in ways read more
  • JT: I still find it unbelievable that people can work in read more
  • Sandra Surace: What can a person do who suffered retaliation by school read more