Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Recently in School Law Category

School safety can be a controversial subject. Although everyone agrees that safe schools are important and essential in every community, not everyone agrees on how to achieve safe schools. Zero tolerance policies began emerging in the 1980s and 90s in response to the increased efforts in the government's war on drugs, as well as part of the Gun Free Schools Act.

Over time, many schools expanded their zero tolerance policies to include other behaviors including fighting, or possessing drugs or alcohol, and even less serious offenses. After the tragic Columbine shooting in 1999, many more schools started instituting zero tolerance policies for students caught carrying weapons. However, now that there is decades of data for researchers to review and analyze, zero tolerance policies have come under the microscope.

Every now and then a law comes around banning a thing you didn't even know existed in the first place. Such is the case with New Mexico's anti-school lunch shaming statute, which bars schools in the Land of Enchantment from forcing kids to throw away food, wear specific wristbands, or complete chores if they are unable to afford a meal.

And if you were unaware that children as young as 5 or 6 needed a Hunger-Free Students' Bill of Rights Act, perhaps it's because you didn't know what some schools have been doing to shame underprivileged students.

It's a rare situation, in this day and age, that all Americans actually agree about something. However, regardless of where public opinion lies, the federal courts are being asked to decide an issue of utmost importance and significance to the public: Is there a federal, constitutional right to education? A federal lawsuit stemming from the deplorable conditions within the Detroit Public School (DPS) system is seeking to hold the state of Michigan liable for violating the constitutional right to education for the DPS students.

While it sounds rather American to have a federal constitutional right to education, none actually exists. Though you might be thinking: "But, isn't education for children free?" Or: "Doesn't the government have to educate the children?" You're probably right, but it's not the federal government, it's state and local governments that provide education.

Some people consider fights at school just kids blowing off steam, or the unfortunate, natural byproduct of throwing so many kids into a socially and emotionally charged environment. But many school fights aren't inevitable accidents, and perhaps could've been prevented with timely parental or teacher intervention.

If that doesn't happen, there are some rare cases where teachers or parents could be liable for school fights.

Last week, the Supreme Court announced that they will be taking up the case of Gavin Grimm, the high school student who has been told he can't use the boys' restroom because he is transgender. The case will be heard at some point next year, as the Court has only accepted to hear the case at this point.

When a case is appealed to the Supreme Court, one party to a case is asking the Court to review a Federal Appeals Court's decision. The Supreme Court is asked to review thousands of cases each year, and only selects about 80 to review. Although Gavin won the last appeal, the Supreme Court ordered that the appeals court's decision not go into effect until they decide to reject the case or after they decide the case.

If a school or teacher suspects your child is being abused or neglected at home, state laws generally require that the teacher or school administrator report the suspected abuse to authorities. It is a requirement of their jobs to spot the signs of abuse or neglect, and make the report.

If your child has bruises all over their body and doesn’t explain that the bruises are from football camp, for example, then the teacher will likely be required by law to report their suspicions.

There are few topics more politically polarizing at the moment than charter schools. One side of the argument claims that bad teachers have too much job security and we need to run public schools more like private businesses. The other contends public schools are underfunded, teachers are underpaid, and the solution is not diverting public funds to schools lacking public oversight.

No matter which side of the fence you're on, there is little debate that the quality of charter schools varies greatly, and some have been used as schemes to pocket millions in government funds. So what if this happens at a charter school in which your child is enrolled? Or a charter school made unfulfilled educational promises? Do you have any legal recourse? Here's a look.

There are all kinds of child custody issues that could arise during the school year. What if one parent is moving out of state? Maybe a previous custody agreement is being modified, going from one parent having full custody to sharing custody. And if each parent lives in a different school district, how do you determine which school the child goes to? Maybe the child needs to transfer to a school out of either parent’s district.

Child custody issues can be complicated even before taking school into account. So here’s what you need to know about changing a child custody arrangement during the school year.

Balancing the rights of children in school can be difficult. On the one hand, they don't forfeit all of their constitutional rights just by walking onto school grounds. On the other hand, schools have an interest in maintaining a safe educational environment for all students. So where does forcing a 12-year-old student to take off his underwear and bend over in front of the vice-principal, a school resource officer, and three classmates fall on that scale?

Too far, ruled the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court is allowing the boy's lawsuit against the school district and assistant principal to proceed, despite the school arguing that it couldn't be held liable for strip searching students in public.

On the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest campus shootings in U.S. history, which incidentally happened at the state's premier university, a Texas law went into effect allowing students to carry guns into classrooms. Not everyone was pleased with the new legislation, however, least of all professors at the University of Texas. Three of them sued the school and the state, asking for the law to be overturned or to be allowed to ban guns in their classrooms.

Those professors were in court yesterday, arguing that permitted firearms in class would chill the free speech rights of both students and teachers. So how will those rights be balanced with the right to bear arms of others?