immigrationPapers454172307Schools and districts are being inundated with parental questions about how their schools will respond to inquiries or visits from immigration officials.  To best answer, schools and districts should plan ahead.  These are complicated legal, political and educational questions.  We highlight some key issues below.  For a fuller discussion of the legal issues in particular, check out the pamphlet that one of us wrote for the National School Boards Association.   Husch Blackwell clients and members of the Council of the Great City Schools may also want to participate in our March 23, 2017 webinar on the legal rights of immigrant students. Continue Reading Immigration fears in K-12 schools: Questions to ask when planning to respond to immigration officials

200275123-001In a joint letter issued February 22, 2017, the Departments of Education (ED) and Justice (DOJ) withdrew prior Title IX guidance from the Obama administration that required schools receiving federal funding to allow students to use sex-segregated facilities according to their gender identity, as opposed to their anatomical birth sex. To learn more, please visit our Higher Education Legal Insights blog.

Choosing your wayOn Friday, February 10, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that the United States will no longer challenge the injunction against enforcement of the joint Department of Justice and Department of Education guidance on treatment of transgender students that was issued last year. We expect further developments in the coming weeks and months, but for now see our Higher Education Legal Insights post on this issue.

Friends doing the Tug of war - teamworkYesterday, the U.S. Senate, by a narrow vote of 51-50, confirmed President Trump’s nomination for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos.  Initially, the vote was a 50-50 tie.  All 48 Democratic Senators opposed the nomination, and two Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who both sit on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined the opposition.  However, Vice President Michael Pence, as President of the Senate, came to DeVos’ rescue and cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of her nomination.  This was the first time a cabinet level nominee was confirmed by the vote of the Vice President. Continue Reading VP Pence Swoops in to Break Tie in DeVos Confirmation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn our present-day education system, technology is an essential, incomparable learning tool for students at all grade levels; and thus, the importance of its accessibility to each and every student cannot be overstated. However, some educational organizations around the United States have failed to provide user-friendly websites to people with disabilities, and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) under the Obama Administration took notice.

In the last year alone, OCR investigated over 350 schools districts for violations of website accessibility for individuals with disabilities.  The OCR resolved the complaints against eleven educational organizations in seven states and one territory for these violations. These investigations were prompted by complaints that these organizations’ websites did not comply with the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. In a nut shell, these regulations, which apply to online services and programs, prohibit discrimination of people on the basis their disability and ensures that communications with people with disability are as effective as communications with those without a disability. Continue Reading Web Accessibility: What lies ahead in the Trump Administration?

Definition: LegislationNewly elected Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has announced that K-12 education reform will be one of his top priorities.  He has called for more prudent use of public funds, and for a broader range of educational options for parents.  The Missouri General Assembly has answered the call with a slew of bills addressing everything from education savings accounts to technical certification programs in high-schools.  It is too soon to tell which, if any, of the bills will become law, but the sheer volume of “education reform” legislation moving through the process speaks volumes about the general assembly’s appetite for reform. Recent legislative activity includes:

  • Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery (R-Lamar), would create Education Savings Accounts for students with learning, development or physical disabilities.  Sen Emery presented a revised version during a hearing before the Senate Government Reform Committee which would include all students in Missouri.  Beginning on or after January 1, 2017, a taxpayer may make a qualifying contribution to an educational assistance organization and claim a tax credit. Educational assistance organizations must meet certain requirements.  The tax credit is capped at $25 million; funds are administered by the State Treasurer and distributed through education assistance programs that will award the funds to parents of qualified students through a debit account.  Many education groups voiced their oppositions to the measure citing lack of funding for the current foundation formula, lack of financial oversight of the schools receiving the funds, and lack of accountability.  Opponents testified schools receiving funds should be held to the same standards as public schools.

Continue Reading Missouri Governor Announces K-12 Education Reform as Top Priority

Columns_000017257808_LargeOn January 11, 2017, the Supreme Court took up its second case this term dealing with the educational rights of students with disabilities, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The case involves an autistic student, whose parents were not satisfied with his individual educational plan (IEP). The parents placed him in an expensive private school and sought reimbursement from the school district. The lower courts denied their request. Continue Reading What Level of Educational Benefit Must Be Offered to Students with Disabilities?

money-closeup122486570Amidst the flurry of post-election political news and speculation about K-12 education policy over the next four years, supporters of diverse public schools should not overlook two opportunities to garner federal financial support for their efforts. In its last months the Obama administration has set in motion two competitive grant programs designed to promote efforts to encourage racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse enrollments in public schools. Continue Reading Parting Gifts to Proponents of Public Schools with Diverse Enrollments

Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools is one of two important special education cases the Supreme Court will decide this year.  Fry involves the parents of a student with quadriplegic cerebral palsy who sued the school under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. In this case, the school refused to allow the student’s service dog to accompany her to classes. After this refusal, the parents pulled the student out of the School District and later sued in federal court in Michigan. Continue Reading A Decision Could Be Around the Corner in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools

Empty school classroom with blackboard for training. 3D renderinThe U.S. Department of Education recently released two reports spotlighting the achievements and challenges of its Office for Civil Rights (OCR). During an event with U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon the Department released two reports touting OCR’s achievements.   Continue Reading Sunset of the Obama Administration and Dawn of the Trump Administration: OCR Complaints Skyrocket During 2016