Articles Posted in Education Law

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After G.G., a transgender boy, began to use the boys’ restrooms with the approval of the school administration, the local school board passed a policy banning G.G. from the boys’ restroom. G.G. filed suit alleging that the school board impermissibly discriminated against him in violation of Title IX, 20 U.S.C. 1681(a), and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The district court dismissed G.G.’s Title IX claim and denied his request for a preliminary injunction. The court reversed the dismissal of G.G.’s Title IX claim, concluding that the district court did not accord appropriate deference to the relevant Department of Education regulations. In this case, the Department’s interpretation of its own regulation, 34 C.F.R. 106.33, as it relates to restroom access by transgender individuals, is entitled to Auer v. Robbins deference and is to be accorded controlling weight. The court also concluded that the district court used the wrong evidentiary standard in assessing G.G.’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court evaluated G.G.’s proffered evidence against a stricter evidentiary standard than is warranted by the nature and purpose of preliminary injunction proceedings to prevent irreparable harm before a full trial on the merits. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion when it denied the preliminary injunction without considering G.G.’s proffered evidence. The court vacated the district court's denial of the preliminary injunction and remanded for consideration under the correct standard. View "G. G. v. Gloucester Cnty. Sch. Bd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff collapsed with exertional heatstroke while practicing as a member of the Towson University football team. Plaintiff was in a coma for nine days, almost died, and suffered multi-organ failure, requiring a liver a transplant and numerous additional surgeries. Plaintiff subsequently recovered and pursued his plan to return to playing football. However, the Team Physician, a board-certified sports medicine doctor, concluded that allowing plaintiff to participate in the football program at the University presented an unacceptable risk of serious reinjury or death. Plaintiff filed suit against the University, alleging that its decision to exclude him from the football program amounted to a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 701 et seq. The district court entered judgment against the University. The court reversed, concluding that plaintiff was not “otherwise qualified” to participate fully in the University’s football program because the University reasonably applied its Return-to-Play Policy. The court was required to give deference to the University's judgment. The court did not reach the University's challenge to the district court's evidentiary rulings. View "Class v. Towson Univ." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging a hearing officer's conclusion that the School Board had provided O.S. with a free and appropriate education (FAPE). The district court affirmed the hearing officer's decision. At issue was whether the standard for a FAPE under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., has changed since Board of Education v. Rowley. The court held that it has not and that, in evaluating whether a school provides a FAPE, the court still looks to whether the individualized education program (IEP) provides some education benefit to the student. Applying that standard to this case, the court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that the School Board met that requirement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "O.S. v. Fairfax Cnty. Sch. Bd." on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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In 1970, the district court determined that the City and the Board were operating racially segregated schools and directed them to submit desegregation plans that would establish a nonracial, unitary school district. This appeal stemmed from the district court's two desegregation orders. Plaintiffs moved to enjoin the implementation of the Board's 2011-2012 student assignment plan because it failed to move the school district toward unitary status. The district court denied relief. The court vacated the district court's ruling, holding that the district court erred when it failed to place the burden on the Board to show that the 2011-12 student assignment plan moved the school district toward unitary status. Subsequently, the district court granted the Board's motion requesting that the district court declare the school district unitary and the district court dismissed plaintiffs' request for an injunction as moot. The court affirmed, concluding that the district court acted within its discretion in choosing to address the Board’s motion for declaration of unitary status before ruling on plaintiffs’ motion for injunctive relief. Further, the district court did not clearly err in determining that the school district is unitary. View "Everett v. Pitt Cnty. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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The Professional Massage Training Center (PMTC) filed suit against the Accreditation Alliance of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) after ACCSC denied PMTC’s application for re-accreditation. The district court entered judgment in favor of PMTC, finding that ACCSC had violated the school’s due process rights. The court awarded the school more than $400,000 in damages and ordered ACCSC to fully reinstate its accreditation. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the district court erred in conducting a de novo approach to the accreditation process; (2) judged by the correct standard of review, the accreditation decision was well supported and not arbitrary or capricious; and (3) the district court correctly dismissed PMTC’s state law claims for breach of contract, negligence, and tortious interference. Remanded. View "Prof’l Massage Training v. Accreditation Alliance of Career Schs." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, parents of nine-year-old E.L., who has autism, initiated an administrative complaint against the school board under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. An ALJ determined that the school board violated the IDEA by failing to provide E.L. with required speech therapy but, in all other respects, she was provided an appropriate special education program. The school board appealed and the state review officer reversed the ALJ's conclusion regarding the speech therapy. Plaintiffs then filed a civil action seeking judicial review of the administrative proceedings. The court concluded that E.L. did not exhaust her administrative remedies and that the school board did not violate the IDEA where the review officer's conclusion that E.L. received the speech therapy mandated by her individualized education program is supported by the evidence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "E. L. v. Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education" on Justia Law

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Relator filed suit against certain student loan corporations, alleging that they defrauded the Department of Education and thus violated the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq. After applying the arm-of-the-state analysis on remand, the district court again concluded that all of the student loan corporations constituted state agencies not subject to suit under the Act and granted their motions to dismiss. Applying the arm-of-the-state analysis to the corporations, the court vacated the judgment of the district court as to PHEAA and remanded to permit limited discovery on the question of whether PHEAA was truly subject to sufficient state control to render it a part of the state; vacated the judgment with respect to VSAC and remanded to permit limited discovery; and affirmed the judgment with respect to ASLA because it is an arm of Arkansas and therefore not subject to suit under the FCA. View "U.S. ex rel. Oberg v. Kentucky Higher Education" on Justia Law

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College Newspapers challenged the ABC's ban on alcohol advertisements as violative of the First Amendment. The court concluded that the challenged regulation violated the First Amendment as applied to the College Newspapers where a regulation of commercial speech must satisfy all four Central Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of N.Y. prongs in order to survive an as-applied challenge, and the regulation at issue here did not satisfy the fourth prong. The district court erred in concluding that the challenged regulation was appropriately tailored to achieve its objective of reducing abusive college drinking. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the ABC. View "Educational Media Co. v. Insley" on Justia Law

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South Carolina requested a waiver of its maintenance-of-effort condition under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(18), for approximately $67.4 million for its fiscal year 2010. The Secretary granted the waiver in part, but denied it to the extent of the $36.2 million. South Carolina subsequently filed this petition for review, challenging the Secretary's denial of its request for a full waiver and its request for a hearing. The court concluded that the Secretary's action in partially denying the request for a waiver was a determination made with respect to the eligibility of the State for funding and that therefore the court had jurisdiction to consider the State's petition for review. The court also concluded that the Secretary's denial of the State's request for a full waiver was a determination that South Carolina was not eligible to receive a grant in the amount of $36.2 million and that therefore the Secretary was required to provide the State with notice and an opportunity for a hearing before he made a final determination with respect to the waiver request. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review and remanded for further proceedings. View "SC Dept. of Educ. v. U.S. Sec. of Educ." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was convicted in 1993 of carnal knowledge of a minor without the use of force. In this appeal, plaintiff challenged Va. Code sections 9.1-900 et seq. and 18.2-370.5, which, together, classified her as a sexually violent offender and prevented her from entering the grounds of a school or daycare without first gaining permission from the Virginia circuit court and the school board or the owner of the daycare. Unless plaintiff gains such permission, she is not able to meet with her stepson's teachers at school, attend his school functions, or drop him off at or pick him up from school. Plaintiff's complaint included four counts: she alleged that defendants have violated her substantive due process, procedural due process, associational, and free exercise rights. The injuries she alleged with respect to the first, third, and fourth counts stemmed from impediments the Virginia statute and the school board policy placed on her ability to access school and church property. The court held that because she had not yet attempted to undertake the requisite steps to access these properties, she could not demonstrate that these claims were justiciable. While plaintiff's second count was justiciable, she failed to state a procedural due process claim upon which relief could be granted. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of her claims. View "Doe v. Virginia Dept. of State Police" on Justia Law