Public School Districts

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.
Continue Reading

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20, 2017, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) within the U.S. Department of Education rescinded 72 education policy guidance documents.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.
Continue Reading

In light of shifting federal guidance and heightened awareness of sexual harassment, school districts should be on high alert with respect to their internal Title IX policies, staff, and training.  Otherwise, they may face complaints with the Department of Education or litigation surrounding the incidents of alleged sex or gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or interpersonal violence.
Continue Reading

Supreme Court SunriseIn yesterday’s unanimous decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, the Supreme Court articulated the standard by which federal courts should evaluate challenges to individualized education programs (“IEPs”) for students with disabilities.  To pass muster under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), an IEP, according to the Court, must be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”  Op. at 14-15.

The IDEA specifically requires that students with disabilities receive a “free appropriate public education” (“FAPE”), a term that is itself undefined in the statute.  The Supreme Court initially faced the interpretation of the FAPE requirement thirty-five years ago in Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School District, Westchester County v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176 (1982).  In Rowley, the Court made some general observations about the FAPE standard, but confined its ruling to the specific facts of the case, leaving the question of what substantive standard applies to another day.
Continue Reading

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

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

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

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

US flag made of safety pins on white backgroundSafety pins, confederate flags, pantsuits, red baseball caps. Schools face challenges in balancing, on one hand, teachers’ rights to express themselves through what they wear against, on the other hand, potential school disruption in our post-election environment.

Are there times when public schools may restrict teachers from expressing themselves in the workplace through attire? Without a doubt.
Continue Reading

Locker RoomOn October 18, 2016, a federal magistrate judge in Illinois issued a recommendation that the Federal District Court deny a motion seeking to deny a transgender

student access to the girl’s locker room.  The School District’s 2013 policy gave transgender students access to whichever restroom facilities most aligned with their gender identity, but did not extend that access to locker rooms.  A transgender student, who identifies as female, filed an administrative complaint alleging Title IX violations with the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights resulting in a resolution agreement called the “Locker Room Agreement.”  This agreement entitled only this particular student to use the girl’s locker room and also included measures for all students to maintain their privacy.
Continue Reading