Recent Decisions - PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
Constitutional Claims and Civil Rights
Employee appealed dismissal of hostile work environment claim against school district under Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). A Minnesota school employee claimed she was subjected to a hostile work environment because her supervisor made offensive and inappropriate comments about women in the workplace. The district court dismissed the claim on the ground that the facts alleged did not fit within the definition of sexual harassment under the MHRA. The court of appeals upheld the dismissal, and the employee appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Held: For the school district. While the MHRA does permit sex-based hostile work environment claims, the supervisor's comments were infrequent and neither sufficiently hostile nor abusive to support such a claim. La M ont v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 728, 814 N.W.2d 14 (Minn. 2012).
Principal appealed summary judgment in favor of school district dismissing her claim of race discrimination. A school superintendent received a copy of an email about a controversial policy change that contained false and inaccurate information. The superintendent demanded the school's principal, a Hispanic female, identify who had disseminated the information. The principal was terminated for insubordination when she refused to identify the individual, and she sued, alleging racial discrimination. Held: For the school district. The principal failed to show that the school's reason for terminating her was a pretext for racial discrimination. Jaramillo v. Adams Co. Sch. Dist. 14, 680 F. 3d 1267 (10th Cir. 2012).
Teacher appealed summary judgment in favor of city and school employees dismissing discrimination claims. A teacher claimed discrimination motivated a mandated classroom change, position shift, and a derogatory remark about her age. Held: For the school. The teacher was unable to prove discrimination. The change in the teacher's position did not constitute an adverse employment action and the school's classroom change was an accommodation of a disability. A single remark was insufficient to create a hostile work environment. Silvis v. City of ?. Y., 946 N.Y.S.2d 22 (App. Div. 1st Dept. 2012).
Parents, on behalf of student, appealed order dismissing claims alleging school district violated student's due process and equal protection rights. A nine-year-old girl was sexually assaulted on six separate occasions, when a man unrelated to the student was allowed to sign her out of school without verifying his identity. Held: For the school district. Despite state compulsory education and the girl's relatively young age, a "special relationship" did not exist between the student and the state because the girl's parents voluntarily chose to send her to that school. Because knowledge of impending harm was never alleged, the danger was not created by the state. The state-created danger doctrine did not apply because knowledge of impending harm was never alleged. Doe ex rei. Magee v. Covington Co. Sch. Dist., 675 F. 3d 849 (5th Cir. 2012).
Former students appealed order dismissing claims alleghi school district violated students' equal protection rights. Students alleged that their school district's employees did not respond to instances of sexual harassment and teasing of students because of the students' gender, and their claim was dismissed. Held: For the students in part and for the school district in part. Despite the students' vague allegation and failure to allege facts showing intentional discrimination, they were permitted to amend their complaint against the administrators, while all claims against the school district were properly dismissed based on Eleventh Amendment immunity. Because the students sued the administrators in their personal capacity and not their official capacity, immunity did not apply. ??-Rifai v. Willows Unified Sch. Dist., 469 Fed. Appx. 647 (9th Cir. 2012)(unpublished).
Middle school student and his mother sued school district and administrators alleging search violated mother's due process rights. School officials unsuccessfully searched an eighth grade student suspected of selling drugs on school property without notifying the child's parent, as required under the school's handbook. The mother claimed the resulting interference with the parent-child relationship violated her due process rights. Held: For the school district. Although the lack of parental notification could affect the constitutionality of the search as it related specifically to the student, there was no constitutional harm to the mother's procedural due process rights unless the parent-child relationship itself had been targeted. In this case, the student was never physically removed from his school, home, or the care of his parents; therefore the search did not disaipt the family relationship. Love v. Riverhead C. Sch. Dist., 823 F. Supp. 2d 193 (E.D.N.Y. 2011).
Eighth grade student, through parents, sued school district and administrators alleging student's suspension violated substantive due process rights. A student was suspended, placed in alternative school, and denied attendance to her eighth grade graduation for taking an over-the-counter pill from a classmate in violation of school policy. Held: For the school district. A school's decision to suspend a student will survive a substantive due process claim so long as it is legitimate, and schools have a legitimate interest in protecting their students from the proliferation of medication on school property. Additionally, the student should have known of the school policy in question. Therefore, the suspension did not violate her substantive due process rights. Storie v. Indep. Sch. Dist., # 13, 834 F. Supp. 2d 1305 (E.D. Okla. 201 1).
Two middle school students sought preliminary injunction alleging school district's ban of breast cancer awareness bracelets violated First Amendment free speech rights. After a school-wide ban of breast cancer awareness bracelets, two female students were suspended for wearing bracelets displaying various slogans, including "I Heart Boobies." Held: For the students. The fact that the word "boobies" was often used by the media to promote breast cancer awareness, coupled with the fact that the phrase "I Heart Boobies" on these bracelets immediately precedes the national foundation's name "Keep a Breast," dispelled any notion that "boobies" was a vulgar or offensive term. Furthermore, there was no reasonable expectation of substantial disruption of school operations since the bracelets had been on campus for at least two weeks before the ban without any evidence of disruption. H. v. Easton Area Sch. Dist., 827 F. Supp. 2d 392 (E.D. Pa. 2011).
School district moved for summary judgment on action brought by student alleging violation of constitutional rights. A high school student repeatedly violated school policies by bringing weapons to school and generally being disruptive. The student was eventually suspended, expelled, and banned from school property. Student sued, claiming a violation of his due process rights. Held: For the school district. The student was provided due process before suspension and expulsion and the school district did not violate the student's right to procedural due process by banning him from school property. Hannemann v. S. Door Co. Sch. Dist., 833 F Supp. 2d 1068 (E.D. Wis. 2011), aff'd, 673 F 3d 746 (7th Cir. 2012).
School district moved for dismissal of class action brought by advocates and parents of truant children alleging violation of equal protection and due process rights. The parents of truant children were fined by the school district for the students' truancies. The parents, along with advocates for equal education for minority students, sued, alleging violations of students' equal protection and due process rights. Held: For the parents and advocates. The school district was the proper defendant because the parents only challenged the district's selective reduction of statutorily excessive fines for some parents and not others. Additionally, the parents properly alleged equal protection claims. Rivera v. Lebanon Sch. Dist., 825 F. Supp. 2d 561 (M.D. Pa. 201 1).
Parents of student appealed judgment upholding school hoard policy preventing students from participating in student-led Bible study during recess. The parents of a fourth-grade student filed a civil rights action against the board of education alleging that a policy prohibiting studentled Bible study during recess violated their child's First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Held: For the school board. A First Amendment freedom of speech right was required to create a cause of action, and because the jury could reasonably conclude no free speech deprivation was present, judgment for the school board as a matter of law was proper. Whitson v. Knox Co. Bd. of Educ, 468 Fed. Appx. 532 (6th Cir. 2012)(unpublished).
Parents of student appealed summary judgment in favor of school district, alleging violation of student's First Amendment right to free expression. School officials suspended a fourth-grade student for drawing a picture of an astronaut and adding a caption that expressed a desire to "blow up the school with the teachers in it." Held: For the school district. School officials may curtail a student's right to free expression where they have more than an undifferentiated fear that the expression will substantially disrupt the school environment. Here, student's history of disciplinary problems and previous violent drawings in the past suggested that school officials had acted reasonably in ordering suspension. Cuff ex rei. B.C. v. Valley C. Sch. Dist., 677 F. 3d 109 (2d Cir. 2012).
City sought to dissolve permanent injunction barring transfer of property to religious high school. The city, enjoined from transferring a parcel to a religious high school because the transfer would have violated the Establishment Clause, proposed new terms under which the city would accept bids on the property and sell to a buyer who agreed to use the property to benefit the school. Held: Against the city. A reasonable, wellinformed observer taking account of all the circumstances would still view the transaction as an impermissible endorsement of religion. Therefore, the city's motion to amend or dissolve the injunction was denied. Wirtz v. City of South Bend, Ind., 838 F. Supp. 2d 835 (N.D. Ind. 2011).
School corrections officer appealed summary judgment claiming job reassignment was done in retaliation for First Amendment free speech exercise. The officer claimed she was reassigned in retaliation for a letter she wrote to state lawmakers that criticized the facility for holding a rap competition for youthful offenders. Held: For the officer. The content of the letter was a matter of public concern and thus constituted protected speech under the First Amendment. Additionally, there was no evidence the speech interfered with the officer's performance of her duties, undermined a legitimate goal of the employer, or created disharmony among coworkers. Mosholder v. Barnhardt, 679 F. 3d 443 (6th Cir. 2012).
Student appealed court s dismissal of suit against school district alleging wrongful seizure of cell phone. A public school teacher confiscated a student's cell phone and delivered it to the principal, where it remained for two weeks pursuant to the district's disciplinary policy. The student sued the school district, claiming that no statute expressly authorized the school district to seize students' cell phones. Held: For the school district. The statute regarding school discipline did not include an exhaustive list of penalties that school districts were authorized to impose on students. School districts were afforded broad discretion in school discipline matters and courts could not interfere with that discretion unless there was clear abuse. Koch v. Adams, 361 S.W.3d 817 (Ark. 2010).
Students 'parents sued school district alleging single-sex classes constituted unlawful sex discrimination. Parents of public school students claimed school program offering students the option to participate in single-sex classes constituted sex discrimination. Held: For the school district. No sex discrimination was found because there was no showing of concrete and particularized injury to students. Both genders were given equal opportunity to participate in single-sex and coeducational classes. Also, there was little difference in the way single-sex and coeducational classes were conducted, and no disparity was found in the content taught. A.N.A. ex rei. S. FA. v. Breckinridge Co. Bd. of Educ, 833 F. Supp. 2d 673 (W.D. Ky. 2011).
Student sought review of denial to suppress evidence obtained by police officer. A school police officer informed his school's principal that a student was involved in suspicious activity with another individual. When the principal questioned the student, the police officer ordered the student to empty his pockets, which revealed a glass pipe and marijuana. The student argued that the police officer conducted an illegal search because he did not have probable cause to order him to empty his pockets. Held: Against the student. The search by the school official was legal as long as there was reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search would reveal evidence that the student violated the law or school rules. Here, the police officer was acting as a school official rather than as a police officer because he was employed by the school. The search was considered reasonable because drug activity had been reported in the area, the police officer smelled a "funny" odor, the student acted suspiciously, and the student was not physically searched, but only ordered to empty his pockets. State v. Alaniz, 815 N.W.2d 234 (N.D. 2012).
Parent of student sued school district, superintendent, and other school officials and teachers, alleging constitutional violations regarding sexual orientation. A thirteen-year-old student committed suicide, allegedly due to vulgar and consistent harassment at school based on his sexual orientation. The student's mother sued several teachers for allegedly participating in the harassment and the school district, superintendent, and school officials for failing to protect her son from the harassment. Held: For the parent in part and remanded in part. The parent's claims against the teachers were dismissed because the parent failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove harassment. Some of the parent's discrimination claims were remanded for further proceedings because the parent sufficiently established that her son was discriminated against as a member of an identifiable class. Walsh v. Tehachapi Unified Sch. Di st., 827 F. Supp. 2d 1 107 (E.D. Cal. 2011).
Students with Disabilities
Parents of student appealed decision that school district did not violate. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A first-grade public school student was identified as learning disabled and was enrolled in a private school when her parents determined that the public school programs were inadequate to address her needs. The parents sued the school district for tuition reimbursement, claiming the district failed to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as required by IDEA. Held: For the school district. The school district did not deny the student a FAPE by failing to identify the student's disability earlier because the district was permitted a reasonable amount of time to monitor the student's progress. Further, the programs offered by the district were adequate because they were reasonably calculated to enable the student to achieve meaningful educational benefits. Ridley Sch. Dist. v. M.R., 680 F. 3d 260 (3rd Cir. 2012).
Parents of student sued sciiool district alleging retaliation in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act (RA). Parents of a student diagnosed with a peanut allergy and Type I Diabetes requested the school district make multiple accommodations for these conditions. The parents later claimed that the school district retaliated against them in various ways for making the requests for accommodations. Held: For the school district. The ADA and RA protect individuals that request disability accommodations from retaliation. However, the court found the district did not retaliate against the parents for requesting accommodations because the district would have taken the same actions regardless of whether the parents made the requests. A.C. v. Shelby Co. Bd. ofEduc, 824 F Supp. 2d 784 (W.D. Tenn. 201 1).
Student and parent sued school district alleging violations of fede ral and state laws. A student with special needs was strapped into a restraint chair at school for at least two hours a day, every day, for six weeks. The restraint chair was outlined in the student's education plan, but had not been used according to that plan. The student and her mother sued, and the school district moved for summary judgment on various issues of facts. Held: For the school district in part and directed to trial for further proceedings. Summary judgment was inappropriate because the following issues of facts remained: whether it was reasonable to restrain the student in such a manner; whether restraining the student violated the student's due process rights; whether the school district was deliberately indifferent to discrimination against the student; and whether the school district employee's conduct was willful and wanton. Therefore, a trial was necessary to ascertain these facts. A.B. ex rei. ?. S. v. AdamsArapahoe 28J Sch. Dist., 831 F. Supp. 2d 1226 (D. Colo. 2011).
Mother of student sued school district for attorney's fees available under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act's (IDEA) fee-shifting provision. A mother who had prevailed in an IDEA case sought attorney's fees available under IDEA's fee-shifting provision. Held: For the mother in part and for the school district in part. The mother's request for attorney's fees was unreasonably high because she failed to itemize each of the attorney's tasks and certain charges were too vague and lacked specificity. Furthermore, the vagueness of the petition made it impossible to determine if tasks were clerical or duplicative, and thus not recoverable. Therefore, the mother could only recover a portion of her request for attorney's fees. Baker v. D.C. Pub. Schs., 823 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2011).
Parent, on behalf of student, appealed judgment in favor of state's Department of Education for violating Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The state's Department of Education developed a new Individual Education Plan (IEP) for a student with special needs. The student's parent disagreed with the IEP and unilaterally decided to move the student to another private school. The parent then brought an administrative action against the Department of Education for tuition reimbursement, pursuant to IDEA. A hearing officer held in favor of the Department of Education and the parent appealed, arguing that the IEP was inappropriate and the hearing officer's decision was biased. Held: For the Department of Education. The parent failed to prove that the IEP was inappropriate. Furthermore, the Department of Education complied with the procedural requirements of IDEA in developing the IEP and the parent did not present any evidence that the hearing officer's decision was biased. D.R. v. Dept. ofEduc, 827 F. Supp. 2d 1 161 (D. Haw. 201 1).
Students and their parents sued school district alleging racial discrimination. A school district identified a group of students, all of whom were African-American, as having learning disabilities and placed the students in special education classes. Later, evaluations indicated that the students did not actually have any learning disabilities. The students and their parents sued, alleging the school district racially discriminated against the students because there was a disproportionate amount of African-American students in special education classes. Held: For the school district. Statistical evidence indicating that a disproportionate amount of African-Americans students were placed in special education classes was not enough to prove that the school district intentionally discriminated against the students. Further, there was no evidence that the school district identified special education students based on race. Blunt v. Lower Merion Sell. Dist., 826 F. Supp. 2d 749 (E.D. Pa. 201 1).
Parents of hearing-disabled students appealed summary judgment for Department of Education challenging regulation excluding coverage of certain procedures under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The students attended schools that provided "mapping" of cochlear implants. The mapping was a process used to check whether cochlear implants functioned properly. The Department of Education then created a new regulation excluding mapping as a service that is required under IDEA. The students' parents sued the Department of Education, arguing that the new regulations were contrary to the intent of IDEA. Held: For the Department of Education. The Department of Education could exclude mapping as a service provided under IDEA because mapping was not explicitly required under IDEA. IDEA only required schools to provide a basic floor of opportunity for disabled students. Petit v. U.S. Dept. ofEduc, 675 F. 3d 769 (D.C. Cir. 2012).
Parents of disabled student sued school officials for allegedly violating Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and student's right to due process. A disabled student's classmates physically and verbally bullied the student while in school. The student's parents claimed that the school officials violated the ADA and the student's right to due process by failing to protect the student from the classmates' bullying. Held: For the school officials. The school officials did not violate the student's right to due process because they did not have a duty to protect the student from his classmates. The school officials did not violate the ADA because the parents failed to prove the student was bullied based on his disability, the bullying altered the condition of the student's education, or the school officials were deliberately indifferent to the bullying. Doe v. Big Walnut Local Sch. Dist. Bd. OfEduc, 837 F. Supp. 2d 742 (S.D. Ohio 201 1 ).
Parents of autistic student appealed judgment for school district, seeking reimbursement for home-based program pursuant to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). An autistic student's parents disagreed with the school district's proposal for an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for the student. The parents unilaterally decided to place the student in a home-based program and sued the school district seeking reimbursement for the cost of the home-based program. The parents alleged that the school district violated IDEA by not providing an adequate IEP for the student. Held: For the school district. The parents did not qualify for reimbursement because they did not prove the school district violated IDEA before they unilaterally decided to place the student in the home-based program. Furthermore, the home-based program was not proper under IDEA because it was not reasonably calculated to enable the student to receive educational benefits. T.B. ex. rei. W.B. v. St. Joseph Sch. Dist., 677 F. 3d 844 (8th Cir. 2012).
Faculty and Administration
Principal appealed Commissioner of Education 's decision suspending administrator certificates. After several false alarms, a school principal deactivated the automatic notification function of the school's fire alarms, which was a violation of state fire codes. The Commissioner of Education suspended the principal's administrator certificates because of this unbecoming conduct. Held: For the Commissioner. Before the Commissioner, the State Board Examiners weighed the risks with the principal's distinguished career and still found the principal's actions were unbecoming for a school administrator. Therefore, the Commissioner's decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious. In re Suspension of Certificates of Kramer by State Bd. of Examiners, 40 A. 3d 59 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2010).
Principal appealed decision from Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board denying unemployment insurance benefits. A principal resigned after being charged and convicted of aggravated harassment and was denied unemployment benefits as a result. Held: For Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board. Unemployment benefits could be denied for termination due to misconduct that was unrelated to employment when that misconduct raised serious questions about the worker's integrity. In re Vetro, 942 N.Y.S.2d 291 (App. Div. 3d Dept. 2012).
Teacher appealed summary judgment order dismissing pregnancy and marital status discrimination claim against school. A teacher was fired from a Christian school after informing the school she was pregnant. The child was conceived before the teacher was married. The school's summary judgment motion was granted, and the teacher appealed the dismissal of the pregnancy discrimination claim. Held: For the teacher. While Title VII does not protect any right to have premarital sex, it does prohibit pregnancy discrimination. There was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the school fired the teacher because she was pregnant or because she engaged in premarital sex. Hamilton v. Southland Christian Sek, Inc., 680 F. 3d 1316 (1 1th Cir. 2012).
Teacher appealed grant of board of education 's motion for summary judgment dismissing claim brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A teacher suffering from extreme fatigue and insomnia because of thyroid cancer was fired from a school on grounds of chronic tardiness and ineffective teaching. The teacher sued, alleging disability discrimination. Held: For the board of education. The teacher's claims could not stand because her symptoms were not considered disabilities under the ADA. There was also no evidence that her symptoms interfered with her ability to teach. Finally, there was no evidence to show the school's well-documented reasons for firing her were pretext. Farina v. Branford Bd. of Educ, 458 Fed. Appx. 13 (2nd Cir. 2011) (unpublished).
Teacher sued school district, board of education, principal, and other school officials alleging sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and employment discrimination. A teacher alleged that for several years her school's principal made unwanted sexual advances toward her. After she complained, the principal was removed from his position. The teacher claimed retaliatory actions were taken against her for her role in the principal's removal. Held: For the school district, board of education and officials in part, with complaints against the principal removed to state court. The school exercised reasonable care in removing the principal after complaints. The teacher was unable to show retaliatory action was taken against her. However, there was an issue of material fact regarding the principal's liability under state law, and those claims were remanded. Alexander v. Westbury Union Free Sch. Dist., 829 F. Supp. 2d 89(E.D.N.Y. 2011).
School board employee appealed dismissal of petition to compel board of education to place him in another position after his job was eliminated. Formerly a tenured teacher, the employee served in several roles with the board of education. After his final job was eliminated, the board denied his request to be placed in another position with the board or to allow him to resume teaching. Held: For the board of education. The employee had no legal entitlement to be placed in another position and the employee's tenure rights were lost when he voluntarily gave up his teaching position. Fehlhaberv. Bd. ofEduc. ofUtica City Sch. Dist., 946 N.Y.S.2d 792 (App. Div. 4th Dept. 2012).
Vice principal appealed judgment in favor of student for personal injury damages. A high school principal and vice principal were informed of an impending fight. While the vice principal assured the informant that he would take care of the issue, he did not act to prevent the fight. The fight resulted in injury to a student and the student sued the vice principal. Held: For the vice principal in part. Because the vice principal indicated that he would prevent the fight, he assumed a legal duty to prevent injury to the students. Nevertheless, the vice principal was protected by immunity because his response to the situation involved an exercise of judgment and discretion. Burns v. Gagnon, 727 S.E.2d 634 (Va. 2012).
Student and parent appealed order dismissing negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against school. While attending a residential school, a student was able to sneak off campus with one of the school's teachers to engage in sexual activities and consume alcohol and marijuana. The student and parent sued the school for the actions of its teacher, alleging negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Held: For the school. The school was not liable for the actions of the teacher because her actions fell outside the scope of her employment and did not further the school's purpose. Additionally, the school was not liable to the student for personal injury because it maintained its immunity under Illinois School Code. Doe v. Lawrence Hall Youth Sen's., 966 N.E.2d 52 (Hl. App. 1st Dist. 2012), appeal denied, 968 N.E.2d 81 (III. 2012).
School district appealed summary judgment denial in personal injury claim brought by student. A sixth-grade student was injured after another student swung him into a wall during school. The student sued the school district for his injuries. Held: For the school district. The student did not present a triable issue of fact because the dangerous conduct that caused the student's injuries was unforeseeable and not proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision. Furthermore, the student failed to present evidence of negligent supervision on the part of the school district. Keith S. v. E. islip Union Free Sch. Dist., 946 N.Y.S.2d 638 (App. Div. 2d Dept. 2012).
State department of education appealed denial of summary judgment regarding claim by student for personal injury damages. A second-grade student sued the state department of education for injuries she sustained after a classmate stepped back and fell on top of her. Held: For the department of education. The department of education was not liable because the injury was an unforeseeable act and the student's injury was not proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision. Hunter v. N.Y.C. Dept. ofEduc, 945 N.Y.S.2d 76 (App. Div. 1st Dept. 2012).
Parent and daughter appealed summary judgment in favor of private school for injuries sustained by daughter while playing recess tag. A first-grade student was injured during recess when another student knocked her to the ground during a game of tag, causing her to hit her head. Held: For the private school. To establish that the school had breached a duty to provide adequate supervision, the plaintiffs needed to show that school officials had sufficient, specific knowledge of the dangerous conduct. Here, the injury-causing act was impulsive and could not have reasonably been anticipated. Diana G. v. Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Sch., 944 N.Y.S.2d 258 (App. Div. 2d Dept. 2012).
Student appealed summary judgment in favor of school in suit seeking damages for injuries sustained by falling down stairs. A preschool student was injured when another student caused him to fall while the two students were descending a stairwell. Held: For the school. The school could not have reasonably anticipated the conduct whether or not the injury was caused by an intentional or unintentional act by the other student. This precluded a finding of failure to provide adequate supervision. Antoine E.J. v. Birch Family Se>-vs.. Inc. 943 N.Y.S.2d 219 (App. Div. 2d Dept. 2012).
Student and father appealed dismissal of personal injury suit against school district and teacher for student's injuries sustained while practicing for class performance. Student's father sought damages for medical expenses incurred as a result of injuries the student sustained while practicing a bike stunt in the school auditorium. The bike stunt was to be a part of a presentation for history class. Holding: For the school and teacher. The father was not allowed to recover medical expenses paid on behalf of his injured child because the comparative fault of the child exceeded that of the school. M.M. v. Fargo Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 7, 815 N.W.2d 273 (N.D. 2012).
City and police department employees appealed denial of summary judgment after teacher sued for wrongful conduct in obtaining warrant against teacher for assault on student. A teacher was accused of assault after allegedly picking lint off of the breast area of a student. The police captain gave selective information to the magistrate issuing the warrant, failing to mention that the district attorney's office had determined there was not enough evidence for criminal charges. Held: For the city and police department employees. The information given to the magistrate was sufficient to support probable cause absent a showing of deliberate falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth. Beeson v. Palombo, 727 S.E.2d. 343 (N.C. App. 2012).
Teacher appealed judgment finding cause for dismissal. A tenured teacher was dismissed after an unsatisfactory teaching evaluation by his school's principal. The school district's policy required a 90 day remediation period with révaluations every 30 days in the period. The school district waited 1 58 days to implement the plan. Held: For the teacher. Failure to strictly adhere to the requirement for plan implementation did not invalidate the plan. However, the lack of diligent effort by the school in implementing the plan was effectively noncompliant and in violation of the district's policy. MacDonald v. State Bd. ofEduc, 966 N.E.2d 322 (111. App. 4th Dist. 2012).
City appealed judgment jinding liability for officer's negligence in distributing graphic photographs to middle school class. A police officer's presentation to a middle school health class on the dangers of drunk driving included graphic pictures of accident victims. Unbeknownst to the officer, one of the pictures was of a student's father. Held: For the city. The officer owed a duty of reasonable care to the student to protect her from serious harm that might occur after viewing photographs of her biological father's mutilated corpse. However, the officer took reasonable precautions to preclude students that may be harmed by viewing the photographs. Therefore, the officer did not breach his duty of care. Maria H. v. Knox Co., 361 S.W.3d 518 (Tenn. App. 2011), appeal denied, (Tenn. Oct. 18, 2011).
School district appealed denial of summary judgment motion stemming from student's suit to recover personal injury damages. A high school student was on school grounds when he was allegedly assaulted by a fellow student. The student claimed that the school district breached its duty to provide adequate supervision. Held: For the school district. The school district had no actual or constructive knowledge that the assault would take place. Therefore, the duty to provide adequate supervision had not been breached. Jake F v. Plainview-Old Bethpage C. Sch. Dist., 944 N.Y.S.2d 152 (App. Div. 2d Dept. 2012).
School district sought attorney's fees and costs from state after prevailing in school desegregation case. A school district partially prevailed on appeal in a school desegregation case against the state. The school district then sought attorney's fees and costs from the state. Held: for the school district in part and for the state in part. Because the school district prevailed on appeal, it was entitled to a "reasonable hourly rate" for its attorney's fees and costs. A reasonable hourly rate generally means the ordinary fee for similar work in the community. However, the total amount of attorney's fees and costs was then reduced because the school district only partially prevailed on appeal. Little Rock Sch. Dist. v. Arkansas, 674 F.3d. 990 (8th Cir. 2012).
Student Conduct and Discipline
Student appealed assault charge alleging due process violation. A student found guilty of assault for making threatening statements to a schoolteacher alleged that the charging petition did not adequately notify him of the assault charge against him because it did not specifically state that the charge was based on threatening statements. The student argued that his due process right was violated because he could not adequately prepare his defense without that missing information. Held: Against the student. The charging petition adequately notified the student of the charges against him by citing the statute the student violated and the facts supporting the assault charge. Additionally, the missing information did not prejudice the student's defense because at trial he defended himself against the accusation that he made threatening statements. Therefore, the student's right to due process was not violated. In re L.A., 85 So.3d 192 (La. App. 4th Cir. 2012).…
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Publication information: Article title: Recent Decisions - PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION. Contributors: Not available. Journal title: Journal of Law and Education. Volume: 42. Issue: 1 Publication date: Winter 2013. Page number: 112+. © Jefferson Law Book Company Jan 2009. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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