General Business Operations

On April 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument in Department of Commerce v. New York, No. 18-966.  The argument focused on three main issues: (1) whether the District Court erred in enjoining the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce from reinstating a question about citizenship to the 2020 decennial census on the ground that the secretary’s decision violated the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 701 et seq; (2) whether, in an action seeking to set aside agency action under the APA, a district court may order discovery outside the administrative record to probe the mental processes of the agency decisionmaker — including by compelling the testimony of high-ranking executive branch officials — without a strong showing that the decisionmaker disbelieved the objective reasons in the administrative record, irreversibly prejudged the issue, or acted on a legally forbidden basis; and (3) whether the Secretary’s decision to add a citizenship question to the decennial census violated the enumeration clause of the U.S. Constitution.
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The United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has made opioid overdoses a priority.  HHS initiatives include educating doctors about being more careful in prescribing painkillers.  The Alabama Department of Education and Department of Public Health took that one step further and recently announced a new educational program designed to reduce deaths caused by opioids.  The new, statewide program will provide Alabama high schools with access to Naloxone, the opioid-overdose reversal drug.  This program is the first in the United States to train school administrators, coaches, and teachers in how to use this life-saving drug.  Prior to this program, only nurses could administer Naloxone in Alabama schools.  The Naloxone supplied to schools under this program, which costs approximately $178 per dose, was paid for by a grant, not taxpayer funds.
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D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated on July 9, 2018 to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump. Should he be confirmed, his appointment could have far reaching effects to educational entities across the country. Kavanaugh is a strong proponent of religious liberty and second amendment rights, and has issued a variety of high-profile opinions.
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In light of ever-increasing use (and abuse) of social media, school district personnel must be mindful of the rights and responsibilities—of students and of the school districts themselves—that come with this technology.

Interested in learning more about these rights and responsibilities?  If you are a Husch Blackwell client or a member of the Council of the Great City Schools, join us next Tuesday, May 22, at 2:30 Eastern Daylight Time for a complimentary continuing legal education webinar.  Click here to register.
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An application for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court was recently filed by Plaintiff Lee-Walker in, Jeena Lee-Walker v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Educ. et al. Plaintiff teacher filed a lawsuit against her previous employer, the New York City Department of Education, alleging that the district retaliated against her in violation of her First Amendment and due process rights.

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On October 20, 2017, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) within the U.S. Department of Education rescinded 72 education policy guidance documents.  Sixty-three of the documents are from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), which administers the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provides guidance to states and local governments on how to provide free and appropriate public education to children with disabilities.  The remaining nine documents are from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), which assists individuals with disabilities in employment, independence, and community integration matters.  The OSEP documents concern topics including special education funding, due process procedures, private school placements, and more.  By contrast, the RSA documents primarily concern employment issues and centers of independent living for adults with disabilities.
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October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and a brighter light is being shed on bullying-related suicide. Bullying-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, including physical and emotional bullying, cyberbullying, and sexting (circulating suggestive or nude photos or messages about a person). The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) recently released a resource, Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policy, Programs, and Practices, for guidance and strategies to prevent suicide.
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On October 4, 2017, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) agreed to drop its lawsuit against the state of Illinois over education funding distribution. The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed by CPS without prejudice, meaning that CPS could still choose to re-file the case at a later date. Filed on February 14, 2017, by five families, the suit claimed that Illinois had violated the civil rights of students by distributing fewer funds to Chicago public schools than other public districts across the state. CPS alleged that only 76 cents were spent on Chicago students for every dollar spent on children in public schools outside of the city leading to a $500 million funding gap for Chicago public schools.

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The October 2016 term of the United States Supreme Court was historic. Justice Neil Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump to the United States Supreme Court on January 31, 2017.  After Democrats filibustered the confirmation vote of Gorsuch, Republicans invoked the “nuclear option,” allowing a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee to be broken by a simple majority vote.  In yet another historic moment, Gorsuch became the first Supreme Court justice to serve alongside another justice for whom he once clerked (Justice Anthony Kennedy). 
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