Articles Posted in Education Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the YMCA in plaintiff's public accommodation suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. Plaintiff argued that the YMCA's blanket policy of requiring a child's individualized education program (IEP) before admitting the child to its summer camp programs was discriminatory because the IEP in effect serves to screen out children with disabilities from the YMCA summer camp programs. The district court correctly determined that the YMCA took no adverse action against plaintiff's child. Assuming that plaintiff's request to provide less information than the entire IEP was a request for an accommodation, plaintiff failed to establish that the YMCA failed to unreasonably accommodate the child where the YMCA offered to modify the policy as long as it obtained the information it deemed necessary to accommodate the child. View "Koester v. Young Men's Christian Assoc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, on behalf of her minor son J.M., filed suit against the School District, alleging unlawful use of isolation and physical restraints, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12182; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq.; and the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), RSMo 213.010 et seq. The district court dismissed the federal claims and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the MHRA claim. In this case, plaintiff did not file an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., due process complaint, request a due process hearing, or engage in the exhaustion procedures under the IDEA. The court concluded that because the complaint sought relief available under the IDEA, denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), the claims were subject to exhaustion, barring an applicable exception. The court rejected plaintiff's futility and inadequate remedy arguments and affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. View "J.M. v. Francis Howell School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was removed from the Associate Degree Nursing Program for behavior unbecoming of the profession and transgression of professional boundaries after CLC received student complaints about plaintiff's posts on his Facebook page. Plaintiff filed suit alleging violations of his First Amendment rights and due process. After some defendants were dismissed, the district court granted summary judgment to the remaining defendants. The court concluded that, given the strong state interest in regulating health professions, teaching and enforcing viewpoint-neutral professional codes of ethics are a legitimate part of a professional school’s curriculum that do not, at least on their face, run afoul of the First Amendment; plaintiff made no allegation, and presented no evidence, that defendants’ reliance on the Nurses Association Code of Ethics was a pretext for viewpoint, or any other kind of discrimination; college administrators and educators in a professional school have discretion to require compliance with recognized standards of the profession, both on and off campus, so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns; plaintiff's contention, that his offensive Facebook posts were unrelated to any course assignment or requirements, is factually flawed where the posts were directed at classmates, involved their conduct in the Nursing Program, and included a physical threat related to their medical studies; plaintiff's statements had a direct impact on the students' educational experience and had the potential to impact patient care; and the First Amendment did not bar educator Frisch from making the determination that plaintiff was unable to meet the professional demands of being a nurse. The court rejected plaintiff's due process and remaining claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Keefe v. Adams" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's order granting the District's motion to approve the closure of Wilmot Elementary School and to modify the gifted and talented (GT) requirements for the District. In 1988, plaintiffs filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging race discrimination and other claims. The parties negotiated a settlement and, in 1991, the district court entered a Consent Order disposing of issues remaining in the complaint. In this case, the district court approved closure of Wilmot and modification of the GT program as the proper modification of the Consent Order due to the significant changed circumstances. The court concluded that such modification is suitably tailored where the modifications sought by the school district in light of the (1) demographic changes, (2) decrease in enrollment, (3) cost savings, and (4) educational considerations are in line with the initial Consent Order. Accordingly, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the District's motion to approve closure of Wilmot and to modify the GT requirements. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Mays v. Hamburg Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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After the school districts sought termination of the Garland County School Desegregation Case Comprehensive Settlement Agreement and relief from the district court’s 1992 order enforcing it, the district court denied the school districts' Rule 60(b)(5) motion. The district court rejected the school districts' argument that the Agreement is no longer just or equitable to give the 1992 order or the Agreement prospective application in light of the repeal of the Arkansas School Choice Act of 1989 (School Choice Act), Ark. Code Ann. 6-18-206 (repealed 2013). The court concluded that the school districts have presented no evidence that they have either fully complied or that there have been changed circumstances in those other areas of the Agreement. Therefore, termination of the entire Agreement would be supported by nothing more than the notion that it is no longer convenient to live with. The court affirmed the judgment. View "W.T. Davis v. Cutter Morning Star Sch." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, on behalf of D.S., a minor student with intellectual disabilities, filed suit against the school district and others, in state court, seeking damages for premises liability and negligent supervision because D.S. was raped by another student in an unsupervised area of Southwest during the school day, and because D.S. was repeatedly bullied and sexually harassed by her classmates and peers. Defendants removed to federal court, claiming that plaintiff's causes of action arose under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., and then moved to dismiss under FRCP 12(b)(1) and (6). The district court denied plaintiff's motion to remand and dismissed the suit for failure to exhaust IDEA administrative remedies. The court concluded that plaintiff’s theories of liability arise out of Missouri statutory and common law, and the disposition of claims for premises liability and negligent supervision is not dependent on resolution of a substantial question of federal law. Even if the relief plaintiff requested were available under both state law and the IDEA, the well-pled complaint rule protects plaintiff's right to choose a state law cause of action. The court agreed with the Ninth Circuit that non-IDEA claims that do not seek relief available under the IDEA are not subject to the exhaustion requirement, even if they allege injuries that could conceivably have been redressed by the IDEA. Finally, the court denied plaintiff's request for attorney fees because defendants had a reasonable basis for their removal request. The court reversed and remanded to state court. View "Moore v. Kansas City Public Sch." on Justia Law

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Linn State's Board of Regents adopted a mandatory drug screening policy. Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the drug screening policy. In Barrett v. Claycomb, a panel of this court reviewed an interlocutory appeal, discussing, and ultimately reversing, the grant of a preliminary injunction in favor of plaintiffs on their facial challenge to the drug testing policy. On remand, plaintiffs clarified their claims to assert an as-applied challenge to the very same policy. The district court, in part, permanently enjoined Linn State from conducting any further collection, testing, or reporting. On appeal, Linn State challenged the district court's grant of a permanent injunction and subsequent grant of attorneys' fees in favor of plaintiffs. The court concluded that, on balance, testing the entire student population entering Linn State is reasonable and hence constitutional and an effective means of addressing Linn State's interest in providing "a safe, healthy, and productive environment for everyone who learns and works at LSTC by detecting, preventing, and deterring drug use and abuse among students." Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for dismissal of the case. View "Kittle-Aikeley v. Claycomb" on Justia Law

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B.S., a 16-year-old with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, had an individualized education program (IEP). A dispute arose and the parents requested a due process hearing. The parties settled several issues, so the only claim remaining was whether B.S. was entitled to compensatory education services for alleged past denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). On the first day of the hearing, B.S.’s counsel spent five hours examining the special education administrator. The district objected, noting the allotted nine hours of time. The ALJ subsequently reminded B.S.'s counsel that the time limit set at the pretrial conference would be enforced, and offered an opportunity to reorder the evidence. B.S. objected to enforcement of the time limits and continued with the lengthy examination of the case manager. B.S's time expired and B.S. was not allowed to question witnesses further or cross-examine district witnesses. B.S. made an informal offer of proof of additional evidence that B.S. had intended to present. After an unfavorable decision, B.S. appealed, also alleging that state defendants established an unpromulgated "best practices" rule restricting the length of testimony in violation of the Due Process Clause. The court dismissed the state defendants, finding that B.S. was challenging only one ALJ's discretionary decision, so the state was not a proper party. The Eighth Circuit affirmed that B.S. did not suffer a legally cognizable injury for which the state could be liable and had not been denied a FAPE. View "B.S. v. Anoka Hennepin Pub. Sch." on Justia Law

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The 2013 General Public School Choice Act, Ark. Code 6–18–1901 provided that "[a] school district annually may declare an exemption under this section if the school district is subject to the desegregation order or mandate of a federal court or agency remedying the effects of past racial segregation." Plaintiffs have minor children who reside within the Blytheville School District and applied to transfer their children to neighboring school districts. The Blytheville District subsequently adopted a resolution to exempt the District from the Act. Plaintiffs sued, alleging that the District violated their due process and equal protection rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and for violations of the Arkansas Civil Rights Act. The district court granted the District summary judgment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the District violated due process by abusing its power under state law and failing to provide pre-deprivation process, and violated equal protection by using race as the reason for its exemption and nullifying the 2013 Act within its borders on the pretense that it was subject to a desegregation order. The District at least had a rational basis for believing that it "is subject to the . . . mandate of a federal court or agency." View "Adkisson v. Blytheville Sch. Dist. #5" on Justia Law

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K.S. is biracial and has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, mood disorder, adjustment disorder, and Tourette's syndrome. K.S. was a freshman and sophomore at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School 2010-12. K.S. is gifted academically, with a full scale IQ of 123. She excels in math and science; successfully took several advanced placement classes, and was involved in show choir, the school musical, and volleyball. K.S. received special education and services under an individualized education program (IEP) as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400. The district provided K.S. with one-on-one paraprofessional support throughout the school day. K.S. could return to a special classroom at any time and could use that classroom to take tests in a quiet environment. During winter break, K.S. was raped K.S. returned to class and to participation in the school's show choir in January 2012, but experienced unsettling social interactions with peers and other emotional disappointments during the semester; her IEP was amended to add paraprofessional support for K.S.'s extracurricular activities. K.S. did not make the cut for show choir. Her parents eventually removed K.S. to a private school and filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Eighth Circuit rejected their claims, finding that the district had provided a Free Appropriate Public Education. View "Sneitzer v. Iowa Dept. of Educ." on Justia Law