Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Recent Decisions- ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Recent Decisions- ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

Article excerpt

Constitutional Claims and Civil Rights

Principal appealed decision in favor school district for claimed violation of First Amendment and tortious interference with contract. A principal discovered spending irregularities attributable to her superior. The principal confronted her superior about the irregularities. Subsequently she was put on a performance improvement plan and was later terminated. Held: For the school district. The principal's statements were made in her capacity as a public employee, rather than as a private citizen, and thus did not constitute protected speech under the First Amendment. The tortious contract interference claim failed because the school district paid the former principal severance upon a permissible termination, which was in compliance with the contract's terms. McArdle v. Peoria Sch. Dist. No. 150, 705 F.3d 751 (7th Cir. 2013).

Former teacher appealed criminal convictions for sexual assault and witness bribery. A teacher was arrested after a mother of an eighteenyear-old student reported the teacher's sexual relationship with her daughter. The teacher communicated with a friend of the victim that he would pay the victim a few thousand dollars to drop the case. Held: For the state in part and for the teacher in part. There was substantial evidence to support the bribery charges. However, the law prohibiting consensual sex between a teacher and eighteen-year-old student violated the fundamental privacy right to engage in consensual acts of sexual intimacy with an adult. Paschal v. State, 388 S.W.3d 429 (Ark. 2012).

Employee appealed resolution of suit against school officials alleging First Amendment retaliation. An administrative employee wrote an article criticizing the department of education's plan to cut her school's funding and transfer ownership and control of the school to a private, non-profit entity. After school officials said she would be suspended and transferred as a result of her statements, the employee resigned. Held: For the school officials. Although she was speaking as a private citizen, the employee's statements were unprotected by the First Amendment because they had a detrimental impact on close working relationships and potential to interfere with the regular operation of the department. Hara v. Pennsylvania Dep'i of Educ., 492 F. App'x 266 (3d Cir. 2012).

Parents, on behalf of student, sued school district and officials alleging violation of Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. A student was interviewed at her school, without her parents' knowledge, about potential child abuse by the parents. The student was told she had to answer all questions and was not allowed to contact her parents. Held: For the parents in part and for the school district and officials in part. Because a reasonable student would not have felt free to leave, the interview constituted an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment. However, an in-school interview of the student during child abuse investigation did not constitute a Fourth Amendment "search." Lastly, the right to Fourth Amendment protection from an interview on school grounds was not clearly established, so the officials were individually protected by qualified immunity. Phillips v. Cnty. of Orange, 894 F. Supp. 2d. 345 (S.D.N.Y. 2012).

Parent, on behalf of students, sued school board alleging violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX. The school district instituted a single-sex program where students were separated by gender for classes. The only way to keep the children in co-ed classes was for the parents to opt out. The parents sought an injunction requiring the school district to refrain from segregating based on sex. Held: For the parents in part and for the school district in part. In order to comply with Title IX, single-sex education must be completely voluntary. This required the parents' affirmative assent to place their children in single-sex classes. …

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