Articles Posted in Education Law

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In 2000, California voters enacted Proposition 39, which provides that school districts must share their facilities with charter schools so that charter school students have access to facilities “reasonably equivalent” to facilities available to other public school students. Two years later, the State Board of Education issued regulations on how to implement this requirement. This action concerned the meaning of a Board regulation that governs the allocation of classrooms to charter schools. In allocating classrooms to charter schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District used “norming ratios,” which purported to establish throughout the District a uniform student/teacher ratio in a given grade level. The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) sought declaratory relief, contending that the District violated the regulation governing the allocation of classrooms to charter schools by, inter alia, using these norming ratios rather than counting classrooms in comparison group schools to determine the allocation of classroom facilities. The Supreme Court agreed with CCSA and held that the District’s use of norming ratios, rather than counting classrooms in comparison group schools, violated the applicable regulation. In responding to future facilities requests, the District must count classrooms in a manner that conforms to the regulation. View "Cal. Charter Schs. Ass’n v. L.A. Unified Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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Public school students with diabetes who cannot self-administer insulin are entitled under federal law to have it administered to them during the school day at no cost. In 2007, the State Department of Education (Department) issued a legal advisory authorizing unlicensed school personnel to administer insulin. The American Nurses Association and other trade organizations representing registered and school nurses (collectively, Nurses) challenged the document by filing this action seeking declaratory relief and a writ of mandate, asserting that the Department's advice condoned the unauthorized practice of nursing. The superior court declared the advisory invalid to the extent it authorized unlicensed school personnel to administer insulin. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that California law expressly permits trained, unlicensed school personnel to administer prescription medications such as insulin in accordance with the written statements of a student's treating physician and parents and expressly exempts persons who thus carry out physicians' medical orders from laws prohibiting the unauthorized practice of nursing.View "Am. Nurses Ass'n v. Torlakson" on Justia Law

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Michael Garcia received special education services during his school years. Before Garcia turned sixteen, he was arrested on felony charges and transferred to the Los Angeles County Jail to await trial. At that point, Garcia stopped receiving special education services. The issue of whether Garcia was entitled to special education services in the county jail was raised in several proceedings, including an action before the Office of Administrative Hearings, Special Education Division (OAH). The OAH concluded that Cal. Educ. Code 56041 applied, and because Garcia's mother resided within the boundaries of the Los Angeles Unified School District (L.A. Unified), L.A. Unified was responsible for Garcia's special education while he was incarcerated in county jail. L.A. Unified sought relief from the OAH's decision with the federal district court, which affirmed. On appeal, the court of appeals asked the California Supreme Court to decide a question of state law. The Supreme Court answered that Cal. Educ. Code 56041 - which provides generally that for qualifying children ages eighteen to twenty-two, the school district where the child's parent resides is responsible for special education services - affixes responsibility for providing special education to a qualifying individual who is incarcerated in a county jail. View "Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist. v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a nonprofit public benefit corporation that was granted a charter in 2003 to serve Los Angeles County, had its charter revoked by the County Board of Education in 2007. Plaintiff appealed, contending that the revocation proceedings violated due process and revocation was not based on substantial evidence. The State Board of Education affirmed the revocation. The trial court issued a writ setting aside the revocation of the charter, finding that Plaintiff was not afforded a hearing before an impartial adjudicator because the County Board has an interest in ensuring that funds flowing to charter schools are reallocated to other public schools. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the school failed to establish that the Legislature's chosen procedures denied it the opportunity to be heard at a "meaningful time and in a meaningful manner" by a decision maker without financial or other bias. View "TodayÂ's Fresh Start, Inc. v. Los Angeles County Office of Educ. " on Justia Law

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After a school district (District) approved the conversion of an existing public school into a charter school, a union (UTLA) claimed that the District failed to comply with collective bargaining agreement provisions (CBPs) concerning charter school conversion. UTLA petitioned to compel arbitration pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement. The trial court denied the petition, finding that the collective bargaining provisions (CBPs) regulating charter school conversion were unlawful because they conflicted with the Education Code, and therefore, arbitration of those unlawful provisions should not be compelled. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the court's function in adjudicating a petition to compel arbitration was limited to determining whether there was a valid arbitration agreement that had not been waived. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a court faced with a petition to compel arbitration to enforce CBPs between a union and a school district should deny the petition if the CBPs at issue directly conflict with provisions of the Education Code; and (2) because UTLA had not identified with sufficient specificity which CBPs the District allegedly violated, the case was remanded for identification of those specific provisions and to address whether the provisions conflicted with the Education Code. View "United Teachers of L.A. v. L.A. Unified Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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C.A., a minor, sued his public high school guidance counselor and the school district for damages arising out of sexual harassment and abuse by the counselor. At issue was whether the district court could be found vicariously liable for the acts of its employees - not for the acts of the counselor, which were outside the scope of her employment, but for the negligence of supervisory or administrative personnel who allegedly knew, or should have known, of the counselor's propensities and nevertheless hired, retained, and inadequately supervised her. The court concluded that plaintiff's theory of vicarious liability for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision was a legally viable one. Ample case authority established that school personnel owed students under their supervision a protective duty of ordinary care, for breach of which the school district could be held vicariously liable. If a supervisory or administrative employee of the district was proven to have breached that duty by negligently exposing plaintiff to a foreseeable danger of molestation by his guidance counselor, resulting in his injuries, and assuming no immunity provision applied, liability fell on the school district. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment. View "C.A. v. William S. Hart Union High School, et al. " on Justia Law

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The Association sought extraordinary writ relief from the court, arguing that two measures intended to stabilize school funding by reducing or eliminating the diversion of property tax revenues from school districts to the state's community redevelopment agencies, was unconstitutional. At issue was whether the state Constitution (1) redevelopment agencies, once created and engaged in redevelopment plans, have a protected right to exist that immunized them from statutory dissolution by the Legislature; and (2) redevelopment agencies and their sponsoring communities have a protected right not to make payments to various funds benefiting schools and special districts as a condition of continued operation. Answering the first question "no" and the second "yes," the court largely upheld Assembly Bill 1X 26 and invalidated Assembly Bill 1X27. The court held that Assembly Bill 1X 26, the dissolution measure, was a proper exercise of the legislative power vested in the Legislature by the state Constitution. The court held that Assembly Bill 1X 27, the measure conditioning further redevelopment agency operations on additional payments by an agency's community sponsors to state funds benefits schools and special districts, was invalid. View "Cal. Redevelopment Assoc., et al. v. Matosantos, et al." on Justia Law