Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Education Law
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FASORP brought suit against the NYU Defendants, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In an Amended Complaint, FASORP pleads that its members have standing to challenge the Law Review's article-selection and editor-selection processes, as well as the Law School's faculty-hiring processes, all of which FASORP alleges violated Title VI and Title IX by impermissibly considering sex and race in its selection and hiring decisions.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint without prejudice and held that FASORP does not have standing to sue NYU because it has failed to demonstrate injuries to its members. In this case, even if FASORP's pleadings were found to sufficiently identify members who have suffered the requisite harm, FASORP fails to demonstrate that those members have experienced an invasion of a legally protected interest that is certainly impending or that there is a substantial risk that the harm will occur. The court explained that, without any "description of concrete plans" to apply for employment, submit an article, or of having submitted an article, that will or has been accepted for publication, FASORP's allegations exhibit the kind of "some day intentions" that cannot "support a finding of [] actual or imminent injury." View "Faculty, Alumni, and Students Opposed to Racial Preferences v. New York University" on Justia Law

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An organization that is not directly regulated or affected by a challenged law or regulation cannot establish injury-in-fact for purposes of organizational standing absent a showing that it suffered an involuntary and material burden on its established core activities.CTPU filed suit alleging that Connecticut's standards regarding the racial composition of its interdistrict magnet schools violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, concluding that CTPU has not established an injury-in-fact for purposes of demonstrating organizational standing. In this case, CTPU is an organization that is not directly regulated or affected by the challenged standards and CTPU has failed to show that it suffered an involuntary, material burden on its core activities. View "Connecticut Parents Union v. Russell-Tucker" on Justia Law

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An organization that is not directly regulated or affected by a challenged law or regulation cannot establish injury-in-fact for purposes of organizational standing absent a showing that it suffered an involuntary and material burden on its established core activities.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of CTPU's complaint alleging that Connecticut's standards regarding the racial composition of its interdistrict magnet schools violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The court concluded that the district court properly dismissed the complaint based on lack of Article III standing. In this case, because CTPU is an organization that is not directly regulated or affected by the challenged standards and because CTPU has failed to show that it suffered an involuntary, material burden on its core activities, the court concluded that CTPU has not established an injury-in-fact for purposes of demonstrating organizational standing. View "Connecticut Parents Union v. Russell-Tucker" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, which (A) declared the Board to be in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for denying a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to disabled students between the ages of 21 and 22 while providing a free public education to nondisabled students in the same age range, and (B) permanently enjoined the Board and its successors, employees, and agents, etc., from terminating, on the basis of age, FAPEs for plaintiff class members who have not received a regular high school diploma before they reach the age of 22.The court concluded that the original plaintiff, D.J., had standing to bring the action where D.J. received ten months less of special education than he would have if not for the Board's enforcement of the challenged state regulation, thereby demonstrating injury for purposes of Article III standing. Furthermore, D.J.'s standing was entirely traceable to the Board's enforcement of the regulations at issue and the injury could be redressed by judicial action. On the merits, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in interpreting the IDEA term "public education" to encompass free adult education programs offered by the State of Connecticut. The court considered all of the Board's arguments on appeal and found them to be without merit. View "A.R. v. Connecticut State Board of Education" on Justia Law

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Petitioners filed suit seeking injunctive relief, alleging that the denials of their requests for tuition funding violated their rights to the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. Under Vermont's Town Tuition Program (TTP), sending districts pay tuition to independent schools on behalf of high-school-aged students residing in the districts. The district court found that the school districts—endeavoring to comply with a state constitutional provision—denied petitioners' funding requests solely because of the religious status of petitioners' chosen school. Following Supreme Court precedent, the district court ruled that the exclusion of petitioners from the TTP violated the First Amendment, and the district court granted a limited preliminary injunction in petitioners' favor. Because respondents wanted to develop new criteria for TTP eligibility that would satisfy the state constitution, the district court enjoined the school districts from continuing to exclude petitioners from the TTP based solely on the religious status of petitioners' chosen school. However, the district court declined to mandate that the districts allow petitioners to participate in the TTP until the case was resolved. Petitioners appealed and moved for an emergency injunction pending appeal that would prohibit the school districts from continuing to deny their TTP funding requests.The Second Circuit construed petitioners' motion as a petition for a writ of mandamus directing the district court to amend its preliminary injunction. In February 2021, the court granted the petition for writ of mandamus because petitioners clearly had a right to the relief they requested and mandamus was justified to enable them to obtain that relief. In this opinion, the court explained the reasons for its order granting the writ, concluding that petitioners have no other adequate means to attain the relief they desire; the district court was wrong to allow the school districts to continue to withhold TTP funds from petitioners while the districts developed new restrictions and safeguards; and the writ is appropriate where petitioners have been deprived of a public benefit as a result of the state's and the school districts' decades-long policy of unconstitutional religious discrimination. View "A.H. v. French" on Justia Law

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not permit a school district to amend an individualized education program (IEP) unilaterally during the thirty-day resolution period. The Act envisions the resolution period as a time for mediation and agreement, not one-sided action. In this case, the first IEP that the school district prepared for the child and presented to the parents indicated erroneously that the child would be placed in a 12-student classroom, which the parents deemed insufficient. After the parents filed a due process complaint, the school district sought to cure this deficiency by unilaterally amending the original IEP to reflect that the student would be in a 15-student class. The district court found in favor of the parents and ordered the school district to reimburse the parents for the private school tuition.The Second Circuit affirmed and concluded that because the school district argues only that it provided the student with a free appropriate education (FAPE) based on her IEP as unilaterally amended during the resolution period, and does not dispute that the unamended IEP denied the student a FAPE, the school district denied the student a FAPE for her 2016-17 school year. Finally, the district court's other conclusions relevant to the reimbursement order are not challenged on appeal and therefore stand unaltered. View "Board of Education of the Yorktown Central School District v. C.S." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by denying plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, holding that plaintiffs will likely succeed in showing that, as applied, the Dual Enrollment Program's "publicly funded" requirement violated their rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. In this case, A.H., her parents, and the Diocese filed suit against the Agency of Education after A.H.'s application for public funding to the program was denied solely because of her school's religious status.The court concluded that, in these circumstances, the State's reliance on the "publicly funded" requirement as a condition for program eligibility imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion, because it forced Rice Memorial High School, a ministry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, to chose whether to participate in an otherwise available benefit program or remain a religious institution. At the same time, the requirement puts A.H.'s family to a choice between sending their child to a religious school or receiving benefits. In light of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012, 2021 (2017), the court explained that the denial of a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity can be justified only by a state interest of the highest order. In this case, the Agency has not identified any compelling interest that could survive strict scrutiny. The court also concluded that the remaining preliminary injunction factors favor a preliminary injunction. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and granted the motion for a preliminary injunction. View "A.H. v. French" on Justia Law

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The Rockland County, New York school district is 65.7% white, 19.1% black, 10.7% Latino, and 3.3% Asian. In 2017-2018, 8,843 students attended public schools, while 29,279 students attended private schools, primarily Jewish yeshivas; 92% of public school students are black or Latino, while 98% of private-school students are white. School board candidates run for a specific seat in at-large elections; all eligible district voters vote in each race. Influential members of the private-school community have an informal slating process by which Board candidates are selected and promoted. An Orthodox Rabbi controls a slating organization that has secured victory for the white community’s preferred candidate in each contested election. Although the Organization has slated some successful minority candidates, minority voters did not prefer these candidates. Only those with connections to the Organization have been selected. When vetted, candidates were not asked about their policy views.The Second Circuit affirmed that the election system resulted in dilution of black and Latino votes, violating the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. 10301. The Act does not require a finding that racial motivations caused election results. The court properly relied on expert findings, that used data derived through Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding rather than the traditional Citizen Voting Age Population data. The totality of the circumstances supports a finding of impermissible vote dilution, given the near-perfect correlation between race and school-type; the scant evidence that policy preferences caused election results; the blatant neglect of minority needs; the lack of minority-preferred election success; the white-dominated slating organization; and the District's bad faith throughout the litigation. View "Clerveaux v. East Ramapo Central School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his instructor at Charter Oak State College, alleging that the instructor violated his First Amendment rights by removing an online blog post that he made in response to a class assignment. Plaintiff also alleged that the instructor and others violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment in connection with disciplining him for the blog post.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court held that the district court did not err by analyzing plaintiff's First Amendment claim under the Hazelwood standard because plaintiff's speech bears the hallmark of school sponsorship. The court also held that, under the Hazelwood standard, the district court did not err in determining that the instructor's deletion of plaintiff's post was reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns. Furthermore, plaintiff failed plausibly to allege that the instructor's actions constituted viewpoint discrimination. Rather, the instructor's deletion of plaintiff's post reflected a content-based restriction that the Supreme Court has instructed the court to tolerate in the school setting. In this context of an online message board for completing course assignments, the court concluded that plaintiff was not subjected to viewpoint discrimination when his post criticizing rather than performing the assignment was deleted. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process claim and held that plaintiff was afforded a full opportunity to be heard and received sufficient process, and any discernible substantive due process claim fails alongside his more particularized First Amendment censorship claim. View "Collins v. Putt" on Justia Law

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D.S., a child with a disability who receives special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), appealed the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment and grant of the Board's motion for summary judgment. After the child's parents disagreed with the functional behavioral assessment (FBA) that his school conducted, they sought an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense.The Second Circuit held that an FBA is not an evaluation as that term is employed in the relevant IDEA provisions and that a parent's dissatisfaction with an FBA does not entitle them to a publicly funded IEE. In regard to the parents' disagreement with the child's 2014 reevaluation, the court held that parents need not file a due process complaint under the IDEA to disagree with an evaluation and that the statute of limitations does not apply here. Rather, the court held that the IDEA's cyclical evaluation process establishes the operative time frame in which a parent may disagree with an evaluation and obtain an IEE at public expense. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment, reversed the district court's decision, and remanded for further proceedings. View "D.S. v. Trumbull Board of Education" on Justia Law