In 2022, state and local governments banned 2,571 different books. This is more books than were subject to such bans in the previous three years combined (2,436). Most of these efforts are taken at the local level. Texas’ Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources (READER) Act marked a departure from this practice and sought to ban books statewide. However, the United States Court of Appeals for Fifth Circuit (the “Fifth Circuit”) recently upheld a preliminary injunction against portions of Texas’ law.Continue Reading In Bed with Book Vendors: Fifth Circuit Upholds Preliminary Injunction Against Texas’ Sexual Book-Rating Law

On November 15, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s (“Department”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) released new civil rights data from the 2020-2021 school year, as well as seven data reports and snapshots which provide an overview of that data. OCR also launched a redesigned Civil Rights Data Collection (“CRDC”) website that includes public-use data files, reports, and snapshots, which school districts can use to review their own and other districts’ data, available here.Continue Reading Civil Rights Data on Students’ Access to Educational Opportunities During the Pandemic Released by U.S. Department of Education

On August 4, 2023, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), on accessibility requirements for online and app-based services offered by state and local government entities, including public schools, community colleges, and public universities.Continue Reading DOJ Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Online Accessibility Requirements

Husch Blackwell’s Joe Diedrich appeared recently on the Institute for Justice’s Short Circuit podcast to provide analysis in connection with the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in Biggs v. Chicago Board of Ed. The appellate court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in the case below, a dispute between a fired elementary school’s interim principal and the Chicago Public Schools system.Continue Reading 7th Circuit Affirms Chicago Board of Ed Win in Occupational Liberty Case

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

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.
Continue Reading Lawsuits as Leverage: Chicago Public Schools Drop Lawsuit Against Illinois After Legislators Reach a Deal on Education Funding

In 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 Supreme Court Clarifies Special Education Standards

Schools 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

Safety 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 6 questions to ask before putting a pin in teacher expressive attire

Yesterday, the White House released a Fact Sheet: Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for All Students. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) announced additional materials to help school districts address sexual assault misconduct in elementary and secondary schools. These resources demonstrate the continued commitment of the Department and White House to addressing the issue of sexual assault on campus. It also underscores that the Title IX requirements to prevent and address sexual misconduct are not just an issue for colleges and universities, but also for public school districts as well.
Continue Reading White House and Department of Ed Remind K-12 Schools of the Importance of Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures