On May 1, 2023, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released its annual report for Fiscal Year 2022. The FY 2022 report focused on civil rights complaints, proactive compliance reviews, technical assistance presentations, and revised policies and regulations. The highlight of the report was the unprecedented surge of civil rights complaints filed with OCR. OCR confronted the highest volume of complaints in its history, receiving 18,804 complaints. OCR resolved a total of 16,515 complaints, the second-highest number in its history. In addition, OCR conducted 100 proactive compliance reviews, published seven sets of resources and guidance, and provided 186 technical assistance presentations to support civil rights satisfaction in school communities. Click here to view the full report.Continue Reading U.S. Department of Education: A Close Look at the Office for Civil Rights Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report for K-12 Education
The Intersection of School Dress Code Policies and Title IX
School districts often have gender-based dress codes, outlining specific requirements for students such as mandating a particular skirt length for female students or prohibiting muscle shirts for male students. In late 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on school dress codes that made multiple findings regarding the disproportionate impact of dress codes on girls and minorities.Continue Reading The Intersection of School Dress Code Policies and Title IX
Florida Judge Pauses Enforcement of Florida’s Individual Freedom Act
On November 17, 2022, a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida entered a temporary injunction against portions of Florida’s Individual Freedom Act that restricts how Florida’s public college and university professors present their curriculum and what students can and cannot learn in the classroom. The temporary injunction does not apply to Florida’s K-12 public school teachers.Continue Reading Florida Judge Pauses Enforcement of Florida’s Individual Freedom Act
Affirmative Action: The Possible K-12 Impacts of the Supreme Court Cases Involving Harvard and UNC
On October 31, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS” or “the Court”) heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the race-conscious student admissions policies used by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (“UNC”) to promote diverse school enrollments. The final decision in this case likely will be released at the end of the current term—in late June or early July 2023. It could have important implications not only for colleges and universities but also for public school districts.Continue Reading Affirmative Action: The Possible K-12 Impacts of the Supreme Court Cases Involving Harvard and UNC
Title IX’s Reach May Expand: Application to Non-Profits and Schools Not Accepting Federal Funding
In July 2022, two federal district courts on opposite sides of the country issued opinions that have the potential to have a major impact on non-profits and schools not accepting federal funding throughout the country.Continue Reading Title IX’s Reach May Expand: Application to Non-Profits and Schools Not Accepting Federal Funding
Supreme Court to Hear Case on the Continuation of Affirmative Action in College Admissions
On January 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court (the “Supreme Court” or the “Court”) granted certiorari in the Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College (“SFFA v. Harvard”) case. The Court consolidated SFFA v. Harvard with SFFA v. University of North Carolina (“UNC”) because both lawsuits are being brought by the SFFA and seek to reverse the Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), upholding narrowly tailored, race-conscious measures to promote diverse student bodies in colleges and universities. The Court has extended the briefing schedule, and merits briefing will be completed this summer, with oral argument early in the October 2022 Term. Continue Reading Supreme Court to Hear Case on the Continuation of Affirmative Action in College Admissions
Livin’ on a Prayer: Supreme Court to Hear Case of Football Coach who Lost Job for Praying
On January 14, 2022, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether a school district was within its rights in telling a coach not to continue to kneel and pray at the 50-yard line after his team’s games. Continue Reading Livin’ on a Prayer: Supreme Court to Hear Case of Football Coach who Lost Job for Praying
What’s in a name?: Federal Court in Indiana Dismisses Teacher’s Religious Discrimination Over the Use of Students’ Preferred Names
John Kluge, a former music and orchestra teacher at Brownsburg Community School Corporation (“BCSC”) allegedly was forced to resign after refusing to refer to transgender students by the names selected by the students, their parents, and their healthcare providers due to the teacher’s religious objections. Kluge identified as Christian and claimed that referring to students by their preferred names would “encourage students in transgenderism” and “promote gender dysphoria,” which went against his religious beliefs that “God created mankind as either male or female.” Initially, BCSC provided Kluge with the option of referring to students using only their last names, but ultimately, that accommodation was rescinded after several complaints were brought forward from other teachers, students, and parents regarding the negative impacts this practice had on transgender students. Continue Reading What’s in a name?: Federal Court in Indiana Dismisses Teacher’s Religious Discrimination Over the Use of Students’ Preferred Names
Supreme Court Rules on Student Off Campus Speech: Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.
On June 23, 2020, in an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Mahanoy Area School District’s decision to suspend a student from the cheerleading team for posting vulgar language and gestures on social media (outside of school hours and away from the school’s campus) violated the First Amendment. Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules on Student Off Campus Speech: Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.
Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. – the student free speech case every public school administrator should know about
On April 28th, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., a student free speech case that every public school district in the country needs to be watching.
This situation arose with a Snapchat message posted while off campus by a then 14-year old girl on a Saturday following the announcement of the results of cheerleading tryouts. That girl (“B.L.”) had been placed on the junior varsity team for her sophomore year of high school, despite an incoming freshman making the varsity squad. Her anger over that decision resulted in a few Snapchat messages, among the messages was a picture of her and a classmate raising their middle fingers with the caption (uncensored in the original message): “F*** school f*** softball f*** cheer f*** everything.” Although Snapchat messages are designed to disappear within 24 hours, one of the recipients took a screenshot of the message, and it made its way to B.L.’s coaches. B.L. was then suspended from the junior varsity team for one year, and she decided to sue. B.L. claims that the suspension violated her constitutional right to free speech.
Continue Reading Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. – the student free speech case every public school administrator should know about