Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Education Law
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"J.H." appealed an adjudication that she was a child in need of care and supervision (CHINS) for being "habitually and without justification truant from compulsory school attendance." J.H. contended: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the findings; and (2) the court improperly shifted the burden of proof on the question of whether she was habitually truant "without justification." The only witness was a Bennington County deputy sheriff who testified that he served as the County's truancy officer. The officer testified that he ended up transporting J.H. to school on two subsequent days in January. On the third occasion, the officer served a "truancy notice," the purpose of which was to warn a parent or guardian that a truancy case could be brought if their child is continually absent. The officer went to the home twice more in January (the fourth and fifth visits that month) but there was no response from anyone at the residence. At the conclusion of the officer's testimony, J.H.'s counsel moved to dismiss the petition, asserting that the evidence was insufficient to establish that J.H. was habitually truant. The trial court denied the motion, finding that five truancy reports within "a matter of weeks . . . meet[s] the definition of being habitually not at school."  The court also observed it had "no evidence . . . of justification for [J.H.] not being in school." Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed that the record evidence was fundamentally insufficient to establish that J.H. was truant on the days alleged. "Inasmuch as the evidence here was plainly insufficient under [33 V.S.A. 5102(3)(D)], we are compelled to conclude that the adjudication of CHINS based on truancy must be reversed." View "In re J. H." on Justia Law

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During her second grade year and after three years of disagreement between school officials and her parents over requests for certain disability accommodations for A.C., a minor with Type 1 diabetes,the principal made reports to Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services alleging that the parents were medically abusing A.C. The parents filed suit, claiming that the principal’s reports were made in retaliation to their disability accommodation requests and violated the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2 U.S.C. 12203 and 29 U.S.C. 794(a). The district court found that the parents did not prove a prima facie element of their case and could not prove that the reasons given for making the child-abuse reports were a pretext for retaliation. The Sixth Circuit reversed, stating that the district court prematurely placed on the parents the burden of rebutting the school’s stated reasons for its actions. Evidence of falsity in the reports of abuse coupled with the temporal proximity of those reports to requests for accommodations is sufficient to permit an inference of causation. View "A.C.v. Shelby Cnty. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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G.C. began attending school in the Owensboro Public School District as an out-of-district student in 2005. In 2009, G.C. was caught sending text messages in class. School officials confiscated his cell phone and read the text messages. Because this was the last in a series of disciplinary infractions, Superintendent Vick revoked G.C.’s out-of-district status, barring him from attending Owensboro High School. G.C. filed suit, raising federal and state-law claims. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The Sixth Circuit reversed, based on a due process claim that G.C. was denied a hearing prior to expulsion as required by Kentucky statute and a Fourth Amendment claim based on the 2009 search, in which G.C. contends that school officials violated his constitutional rights when they read text messages on his phone without the requisite reasonable suspicion. The court affirmed rejection of a Rehabilitation Act claim that the defendants failed to identify G.C. as disabled under section 504. View "Cain v. Owensboro Pub. Schs." on Justia Law

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After the child complained of burning during urination, school nurse Sliwowski conducted a visual examination of the six-year-old female student’s genital area for medical purposes. The student’s mother alleges that this medical examination violated the child’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. The district court denied summary judgment and denied Sliwowski qualified immunity, finding that the visual examination, conducted without consent and in the absence of a medical emergency, was an unreasonable search. The Sixth Circuit reversed, stating that the law was not clearly established regarding whether a medically motivated examination by a school nurse exposing a student’s body constitutes a search subject to the protections of the Fourth Amendment and that Sliwowski is entitled to qualified immunity. View "Hearring v. Sliwowski" on Justia Law

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A suit on behalf of a 14-year-old, eighth grade boy alleged that the failure of the public school district to prevent sexual abuse by a female teacher violated the student’s rights under Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681, and constituted negligent infliction of emotional distress under Wisconsin law. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the school district; claims against the teacher remain pending. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. In a private suit under Title IX, a school district cannot be held liable on the ground of respondeat superior for an employee’s violation absent proof of actual notice and deliberate indifference. That other teachers suspected improper conduct and administrators investigated and accepted the teacher’s denials does not establish knowledge or deliberate indifference. . View "N. R. Doe v. St. Francis Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff taught sixth-grade at a public school and met with a student’s parents about a threat the student had made against another student. He met the parents again after seeing the student beating another student. The father threatened a lawsuit and told plaintiff that an older son, who had assaulted the assistant principal, should have assaulted plaintiff. During a subsequent class, the student used an assignment to write a song with lyrics about stabbing plaintiff. The police liaison encouraged plaintiff to file criminal charges; under Illinois law declaring a knowing threat of violence against a person at a school is disorderly conduct, 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(13). School administrators feared a suit and were not supportive. After plaintiff filed charges, his evaluations went from satisfactory to unsatisfactory and administrators advised him that they would recommend that he not be rehired. Plaintiff resigned and filed suit, claiming retaliation for exercise of First Amendment rights. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants on the ground that the complaint was not protected by the First Amendment because it did not involve a matter of public concern. The Seventh Circuit reversed. Principles underlying the suit are well settled, which defeats claims of qualified immunity. View "Gschwind v. Heiden" on Justia Law

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Defendant Christian Antonio Alaniz, Jr., appealed an order deferring imposition of sentence entered after he conditionally pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant argued the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence because there was not probable cause to justify the search of his person and the exception to the probable cause requirement for warrantless searches by school officials did not apply. Troy Vanyo was a police officer with the Grand Forks Police Department and was assigned to work as a school resource officer at a high school in Grand Forks. Vanyo had received information about possible drug use involving students in an area approximately a block and a half from the high school. One of the students was later identified as Defendant. The students walked to a town square area and Vanyo followed in his patrol car. Vanyo testified the students were seated when they saw him, stood up, and quickly walked toward a stage area in the town square. Later, Vanyo observed Defendant waiting to talk to the attendance secretary and he informed the school principal that Defendant was the other individual he observed in the town square and suspected was involved in drug activity. The principal took Defendant into a detention room and Vanyo followed them. Vanyo testified the principal questioned Defendant, Vanyo testified he told Defendant something like "if you have anything on you, you need to lay it on the table now." Defendant emptied his pockets, which contained a glass pipe and synthetic marijuana. In moving to suppress the evidence, Defendant argued the police failed to advise him of his rights under "Miranda v. Arizona," (384 U.S. 436 (1966)), there was not probable cause justifying the search of his person, and the exception to the probable cause requirement for searches by school officials did not apply. The district court denied the motion, ruling the reasonableness standard for searches by school officials applied and the search was reasonable. Defendant then entered a conditional guilty plea and reserved his right to appeal the court's denial of his suppression motion. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the search was not excessively intrusive in light of Defendant's age, gender, and nature of the suspicion. View "North Dakota v. Alaniz" on Justia Law

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A disabled child, born in 1996, was a student in the Sutton public school system from 1999 until 2005, when his parent were dissatisfied with the individualized education program developed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400-1491, and the services he was receiving. They removed him from the school and enrolled him in a private learning center. The Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals determined that the 2005 IEP complied with the IDEA. The district court upheld the decision on summary judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the court could not determine compliance without first determining the child's potential for learning and self-sufficiency. The district court properly concluded that the child's potential was unknowable and that the IEP was reasonably calculated to confer educational benefits. The parents did not raise triable claims under the First Amendment, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles II and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1985; plaintiffs “cannot disguise an IDEA claim in other garb.” View "D.B., a minor v. Esposito" on Justia Law

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Defendant filed a due process hearing complaint with California's Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), alleging that he was being denied the free appropriate public education (FAPE) that he was entitled to under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. The court certified the following question to the California Supreme Court: Does California Education Code 56041 - which provided generally that for qualifying children ages eighteen to twenty-two, the school district where the child's parent resides is responsible for providing special education services - apply to children who are incarcerated in county jails? The case was withdrawn from submission and further proceedings were stayed pending final action by the Supreme Court of California. View "Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist. v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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Parents "Madeline P." and "Rex P." challenged a school district's actions regarding their child's educational program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A hearing officer found an IDEA violation but awarded less compensatory education services for the child than the parents requested. On appeal, the superior court affirmed the IDEA violation finding and the compensatory education award. The parents appealed, arguing that more compensatory education services should have been awarded; the school district cross-appealed, arguing that no compensatory education services should have been awarded. The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's findings regarding the school district's violation of the IDEA's procedural and substantive requirements and the compensatory education award. View "Madeline P. v. Anchorage School District" on Justia Law