Articles Posted in Education Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to amend on the ground that the First Circuit’s earlier decision was law of the case. Plaintiff, acting on behalf of her daughter, brought suit against the Falmouth School Department (Falmouth) alleging that it failed to provide O.M. with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) as guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. The district court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The First Circuit reversed in Falmouth I, holding that Falmouth did not violate O.M.’s right to a FAPE. After the First Circuit’s decision in Falmouth I, Plaintiff sought to amend her complaint to include a claim that she had not included in her district court complaint. The district court denied the motion to amend. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly denied Plaintiff’s motion to amend under the law of the case doctrine. View "Ms. M. v. Falmouth School Department" on Justia Law

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O.M. was a student of the Falmouth School Department. O.M.’s mother, Ms. M. argued that her daughter’s individualized education program (IEP) specified that Falmouth would instruct O.M. using a Specialized Program Individualizing Reading Excellence (SPIRE) system during her third-grade year, and because Falmouth did not provide O.M. with the SPIRE instruction, the School Department violated O.M.’s right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) as guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The district court entered judgment in favor of Ms. M. The First Circuit reversed, holding that O.M.’s IEP did not mandate that Falmouth use SPIRE, and therefore, the School Department neither breached the terms of the IEP nor denied O.M. a FAPE by omitting such instruction. View "M v. Falmouth School Department" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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Plaintiffs, two high-profile medical researchers that held faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School and were intimately involved with a research laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, were investigated for alleged research misconduct. Responding to allegations that Plaintiffs used manipulated research data in articles reporting on studies supported by government funds, Harvard and Brigham triggered a unique federal statutory and regulatory scheme. Without awaiting the outcome of the administrative proceedings, Plaintiffs filed suit in federal court against the institutional defendants, alleging, inter alia, tortious interference with business relations, invasion of privacy, and unfair and deceptive business practices. The district court dismissed the action, concluding that the suit was premature because Plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies. The First Circuit affirmed as modified, holding (1) the district court correctly applied the doctrine of administrative exhaustion; but (2) on remand, the district court is directed to convert its order of dismissal to an order staying the case pending the timely resolution of administrative proceedings. View "Anversa v. Partners Healthcare Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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When Jane Doe was in second grade, she began receiving special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act based on her deficiency in reading fluency. More than six years later, an administrative hearing officer determined that Jane was no longer eligible to receive special education. The district court affirmed. The First Circuit vacated and remanded the case, holding (1) the district court erred in relying on evidence of Jane’s overall academic performance without regard to how it reflected her reading fluency skills; and (2) the district court did not make an independent judgment as to the additional evidence submitted by Jane’s parents and afforded excessive deference to the hearing officer’s determinations in weighing the relevant reading fluency measures. View "Mr. & Mrs. Doe v. Cape Elizabeth Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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Ms. S. filed a request for a due process hearing with the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) concerning alleged Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) violations in the case of her son, B.S., during his ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade years. A hearing officer with the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) dismissed Ms. S.’s ninth and tenth grade claims as time barred by a two-year filing limitation. Ms. S. sought judicial review, arguing that the two-year filing limitation was void because it was not promulgated in compliance with the Maine Administrative Procedure Act (MAPA). The district court upheld the hearing officer’s decision, concluding (1) the two-year filing limitation was valid; and (2) B.S. received a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the eleventh and twelfth grades. The First Circuit vacated and remanded in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the district court erred in its analysis of the validity of the two-year filing limitation, and the record is insufficient to determine whether the MDOE adequately complied with MAPA procedures when adopting the filing limitation; and (2) B.S. received a FAPE in the eleventh and twelfth grades. View "Ms. S. v. Regional School Unit 72" on Justia Law

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R.M. was a 12-year-old middle school student in Lexington, when several students pulled him to the ground and beat him, repeatedly kicking and punching him in the head and stomach. The beating was captured on a video. Principal Flynn discussed the incident with R.M.’s mother, Morgan. He indicated that R.M. had agreed to the beating as part of an initiation into a group and had "delay[ed] the investigation," so that R.M. would not be allowed to participate in an upcoming track meet. Later, R.M. was "pushed, tripped, punched or verbally assaulted while walking in school hallways." R.M. had his pants pulled down in front of other students and was pushed into a locker. Morgan emailed Principal Flynn that R.M. did not feel safe at school and was scared to report bullying for fear of retaliation. R.M. missed a significant amount of school due to anxiety attacks. Morgan filed suit, alleging violation of R.M.'s federal substantive due process rights, relying upon a theory once suggested by the Supreme Court that when the state creates a danger to an individual, an affirmative duty to protect might arise. The First Circuit affirmed dismissal, further agreeing that the conduct did not fall within the scope of Title IX, which is concerned with actions taken "on the basis of sex," and not undifferentiated bullying. View "Morgan v. Town of Lexington" on Justia Law

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An organization called Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA) brought this lawsuit challenging Harvard College’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions decision. An opposing group of current and prospective Harvard students (“Students”) sought to intervene, over both parties’ objection, to advocate for the defeat of SFFA’s claims. The district court denied Students’ motion to intervene. Students appealed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Students failed to show that no existing party would adequately represent Students’ interest and thus that Students’ participation as a party was not needed. View "Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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The United States Department of Education (DOE) Secretary decided through an administrative proceeding that International Junior College of Business and Technology, Inc. (International) could not participate in certain federal student financial assistance programs. Specifically, the DOE found that International failed to comply with a requirement that for-private colleges derive at least ten percent of their revenue from some source other than federal student aid (“the 90/10 rule”). International challenged the decision under the Administrative Procedure Act in a Puerto Rico district court. The district court granted the DOE’s motion for summary judgment, thus dismissing the action. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the DOE’s 90/10 assessment was proper; (2) the Secretary did not err in rejecting International’s attempts to cure its 90/10 violation; and (3) the magistrate judge did not err by denying International the chance to conduct discovery. View "Int’l Junior Coll. of Bus. & Tech., Inc. v. Duncan" on Justia Law

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South Kingstown School Committee (Committee) runs one of Rhode Island’s public school districts. Rhode Island has accepted federal funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Appellant, the mother of P.J., a disabled child the Committee was responsible for educating, filed a due process complaint seeking additional educational services for P.J. from the Committee. The Committee settled with Appellant pursuant to a Settlement Agreement under which the Committee agreed to perform four evaluations of P.J. After Appellant demanded ten additional evaluations, the Committee filed a due process complaint of its own. A Hearing Officer ruled against the Committee, concluding that some of the evaluations of P.J. had not been appropriate. The Committee then filed suit in federal district court. The district court reversed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in determining that the Settlement Agreement relieved the Committee of any obligation to perform or fund one of the evaluations; and (2) the district court did not err in concluding that there was insufficient factual support for Appellant’s other evaluation request. Remanded. View "S. Kingstown Sch. Comm. v. Joanna S." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the parents of a minor child with Asperger’s Syndrome, filed suit against the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Department of Education under a number of federal and state statutes for alleged retaliation and discrimination against their child. The Commonwealth moved to dismiss the claims against it pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, which the district court granted. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs did not sufficiently plead either discrimination or retaliation, and therefore, dismissal of their federal claims was proper; and (2) Plaintiffs’ argument that the Commonwealth waived its sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment was waived for lack of development. View "Lebron v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" on Justia Law