Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Recent Developments in the Law-Primary and Secondary Education

Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education

Recent Developments in the Law-Primary and Secondary Education

Article excerpt

STATE COURT AND LOWER FEDERAL COURT DECISIONS

Constitutional Claims and Civil Rights

Parents of home-schooled child sued county, alleging violation of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The parents sought to conduct homeschooled classes at a community center. The county denied the parents' request. Held: For the county. The court ruled that the parents' constitutional rights were not violated because it was reasonable for the county to limit the centers to recreational and community enrichment activities. Goulart v. Meadows, 345 F.3d 239 (4th Cir. 2003).

Parents sued school board for violating student's due process rights. The student drove his brother's car to school, within which was a hunting knife. The school investigated and found that the student should have known of the knife's presence. However, the parents claimed that the school should have proven the student knowingly and intentionally possessed the knife. held: For the school district. The court stated that the school district's actions were rational, and, thus, the student's due process rights were not violated, especially in light of the fact that the school board was entitled to qualified immunity. Butler v. Rio Rancho Pub. Schs. Bd. ofEduc., 341 F.3d 1197 (10th Cir. 2003).

Private non-religious schools, parents and students sued Pennsylvania secretary of Education and private school board members, claiming their First Amendment rights were violated by law requiring recitation of Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem. In December 2002, Pennsylvania passed a law requiring students to recite either the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the National Anthem. However, there was a safety provision in the act, allowing students to opt out based on "personal belief." If a student opted out, the law required the school to inform her parents of her decision not to recite the pledge or sing the National Anthem. held: For the non-religious private schools, parents, and students. The court stated that the opt out provision was not unconstitutional because a student could opt out for any reason based on her personal beliefs, which was not subject to oversight by the school administration. However, the court noted that since the school required parental notification, the law was unconstitutional. Circle Sch. v. Phillips, 270 F. Supp. 2d 616 (E.D. Pa. 2003).

Parents sued school district, superintendent, and principal, alleging violation of their First Amendment rights. Parents were attempting to comment on a change in the public school curriculum, but were subject to a blanket pre-clearance requirement by the principal and superintendent. held: For the parents. The court ruled that there were issues of fact as to whether the school officials acted properly. The court also noted that there was no connection between the pre-clearance requirement and the interest in order and discipline on school grounds because the meeting at which the parents attempted to speak was conducted after school hours. Chiu v. Piano lndep. Sch. Dist., 339 F.3d 273 (5th Cir. 2003).

Student and parent sued school district, superintendent, and school board member, alleging violation of Establishment Clause. The district had stricken all prayers from the high school's graduation ceremony. However, one board of education member proceeded to recite a Christian prayer during his graduation speech. held: For the district, superintendent, and board member. Students and parent had the right to challenge board member's prayer because hearing the unwelcome religious recitation injured them. However, they could not challenge the district's past policy of allowing prayer at graduation because they did not suffer a sufficient injury. Further, since the board member spoke as both a board member and as a parent, his speech was protected private speech. The school district could not be held liable since no evidence existed that the speech was a matter of school policy or custom and not merely the board member's sole decision. …

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