Articles Posted in Education Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), alleging that the school district did not offer her daughter a free appropriate public education (FAPE). On appeal, the school district challenged an award in favor of plaintiff. The Fifth Circuit held, without adopting the characterization that the district court created a new category of IDEA private school student, that the district court's order could not be supported based on a requirement of temporary services for transfer students; plaintiff took a financial gamble of not being reimbursed when she placed her daughter in a private school without first allowing the school district to seek to comply with its obligations under IDEA; and, although the district court failed to recognize the proper private school placement, that failure did not create a penalty beyond what otherwise would be owed. Because the district court erred by holding that the school district was obligated to provide temporary services and by ordering reimbursement of the costs associated with such services, the court reversed in part. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the school district failed to make a timely offer of FAPE, thereby making reimbursement an appropriate form of relief. The court remanded for the district court to determine the amount of reimbursement owed from April 24, 2014, to the end of the school year. View "Dallas Independent School District v. Woody" on Justia Law

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In this appeal stemming from the desegregation of the school district, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's rejection of the School Board's latest proposed candidate, approving instead the candidate supported by plaintiffs and the Court Compliance Officer. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in modifying the academic-qualifications requirement and the selection-and-approval process. The court also held that the district court did not err by denying the motion for relief from judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) where a candidate's role with the Ministerial Alliance did not justify holding that the district court abused its discretion in appointing the candidate as Chief Desegregation Implementation Officer (CDIO). View "Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied rehearing en banc, withdrew its prior opinion, and substituted this opinion. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as a matter of law for defendants on plaintiff's claim that defendants violated her constitutional rights by requiring her to participate in a mock performance of the Mexican Pledge of Allegiance as an assignment for her Spanish class. The court held that, because plaintiff has graduated from high school, her only surviving claim was for nominal damages arising from the alleged violation of her rights; judgment as a matter of law was proper for the District on municipal liability claims for any constitutional violation that may have arisen from the assignment or subsequent actions, as well as claims against the District for retaliation and violation of equal protection; qualified immunity on compelled speech was properly granted for the Spanish teacher and the principal; and qualified immunity was properly granted to the teacher and principal on claims that they violated plaintiff's First Amendment rights by removing her from class. View "Brinsdon v. McAllen Independent School District" on Justia Law

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After the University found that two former students violated the University's sexual misconduct policy, the students filed suit alleging that they were denied constitutional due process and were discriminated against in violation of Title IX. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the University and the individual defendants, holding that the students did not meet their summary judgment burden to demonstrate a genuine factual dispute that the process surrounding their disciplinary cases was constitutionally defective. The court rejected the students' allegations of selective enforcement and deliberate indifference. In this case, there was no sound basis for an inference of gender bias and the pleadings here did not meet the high standard of misconduct for deliberate indifference. View "Plummer v. University of Houston" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a wrongful termination suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988, alleging violations of procedural and substantive due process stemming from legislation that abolished the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) and the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to plaintiff's section 1983 claims because plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he had a constitutionally protected interest in employment or tenure at UTRGV or the UT System at large. The court explained that plaintiff's protected property interests were limited to an interest in continuing appointment at the institution that granted him tenure, UTPA, an interest which terminated when the university was abolished. Furthermore, the court denied by implication plaintiff's motion for leave to amend pleadings, and denied plaintiff's motion to alter or amend the judgment. The court also declined to exercise jurisdiction over and dismissed plaintiff's declaratory judgment claim. View "Edionwe v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the District for damages under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq., because he was repeatedly molested as a student by Michael Alcoser, while he was a vice principal and subsequently a principal of elementary schools in the District. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment awarding plaintiff $4,500,000 million, holding that the judicially implied private right of action under Title IX did not impose liability on a school district when the only employee or representative of the district with actual knowledge of the molestation was the perpetrator himself, even if the perpetrator had authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of the district to end discrimination by other individuals or in the school's programs. View "Salazar v. South San Antonio Independent School District" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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Plaintiff, a former student of the school district, filed suit alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. 1983; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681(a); Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794; and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. Plaintiff alleged that he was sexually assaulted when he was in the second or third grade by a male student in the bathroom. The district court granted the school district's motion to dismiss. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in considering the school district's second Rule 12(b)(6) motion; the district court did not abuse its discretion by not allowing further discovery or granting a continuance; the section 1983 claims were properly dismissed because plaintiff failed to prove a constitutional violation where the claims were not based on the private conduct of his assailant but on the school district's shortcomings in monitoring the students, training the teachers, and establishing a reporting system for sexual assault; the district court did not err in dismissing the Title IX claim because plaintiff failed to show the school district's actual knowledge required to establish liability under Title IX; and the district court also did not err in dismissing the Section 504 and ADA claims. View "Doe v. Columbia-Brazoria Independent School District" on Justia Law

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AHA and Isaiah Smith filed suit against the school district, alleging that the school district's policy of inviting students to deliver statements, which can include invocations, before school-board meetings violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The district court granted summary judgment for the school district. The court agreed with the district court that a school board was more like a legislature than a school classroom or event where the board is a deliberative body, charged with overseeing the district's public schools and other tasks. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court stated unequivocally that the legislative-prayer exception in Marsh v. Chambers extends to prayers delivered at town-board meetings. In this case, the court concluded that the school board was no less a deliberative legislative body than was the town board in Galloway. Accordingly, the court affirmed the summary judgment in No. 16-11220, and reversed the order denying summary judgment in No. 15-11067. View "American Humanist Assoc. v. Birdville I.S.D." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the mother of E.M., filed suit alleging a number of procedural and substantive causes of action under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794. The court agreed with the district court's holding that the majority of E.M.'s IDEA claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations period and that E.M. failed to administratively exhaust his Rehabilitation Act claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Reyes v. Manor Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, T.M.'s mother, filed suit against the County and others after T.M., a middle school student, was arrested for a fight on school property, taken to a juvenile detention center, and subjected to a strip and cavity search. Plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that the strip and cavity search violated T.M.'s Fourth Amendment rights. The district court granted partial summary judgment for the County on the Fourth Amendment claim. The court applied the deferential test in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders because the deference given to correctional officials in the adult context applies to correctional officials in the juvenile context as well. Applying Florence, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to make a substantial showing that the Center's search policy is an exaggerated or otherwise irrational response to the problem of Center security. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Mabry v. Lee County" on Justia Law