question-marksiStock_000015706066_LargeIt has been over one month since Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate. Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration have already had a lot of impact on schools during the past month in office, including withdrawing Obama-Era Transgender Guidance and providing guidance on consolidated state plans related to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

However, one item on Secretary DeVos’ agenda that she has not accomplished—identifying a nominee for the important position of Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. This person ultimately would head the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), including its twelve offices nationwide. Continue Reading Playing the Waiting Game: Trump Administration Has Yet to Nominate an Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently provided some clarifications on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and released an updated template for the consolidated state plans. The hope, Secretary DeVos said, is that the updated template “ensures greater flexibility for state and local education leaders to do what they know is best for children, while also maintaining important protections for economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and English learners.” Continue Reading ESSA Accountability Regulations: Where Do We Stand?

The President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released: America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again. The Budget Blueprint provides an overview of the President’s budget priorities for fiscal year 2018.

With respect to education overall, the Budget Blueprint proposes $59 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Education (ED). This would represent a $9 billion (or 13%) reduction from the current funding level. Among the few proposed increases in the face of such massive cuts are measures to promote school choice at the K-12 level.

Continue Reading How Does President Trump’s Budget Blueprint Propose to Impact K-12 Education?

Gavel On Rainbow FlagAs we noted was a possible outcome in our prior analysis of the Trump Administration’s withdrawal of the Obama-era guidance on facilities use by transgender students, the Supreme Court has remanded Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. without issuing a decision.  Prior to this remand order, the Court was set to decide whether Title IX required schools to allow access to sex-segregated facilities according to each student’s “internal sense of gender” as opposed to their “biological gender,” as specified in the school policy at issue.  The Supreme Court’s views on that topic will remain unknown until (and if) the Court elects to review another case presenting the same question. To learn more, please visit our Higher Education Legal Insights blog.

Family paper chainOn February 22, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Fry ex rel. E.F. v. Napoleon Community SchoolsFry addresses the circumstances in which parents must exhaust the administrative remedies found in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), when their lawsuit purports to assert claims only under other federal discrimination statutes—namely, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  The Court held, unanimously, that parents must exhaust IDEA’s administrative procedures only when the “substance, or gravamen, of the plaintiff’s complaint” seeks relief for the denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Continue Reading Supreme Court Clarifies Administrative Exhaustion Requirements Under IDEA

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?