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MELS 601 Ubben Ch. 16 Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Staff and Students
Have you ever heard… • Lawsuit • I didn’t know that. • Does that apply to me? • Can I be liable? • How did I get into this? • Boy, that was a dumb thing to do. • Who says I have to do that • Why me? Just why?
Why is it important to know about school law?
State Control of Public Education • Since the United States Constitution does not authorize Congress to provide for education, the legal control of public education resides with the state as one of its sovereign powers. • 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Legislative Power • States have plenary (absolute) power to make laws governing education • State Legislatures can authorize state funds to non-public educational systems, i.e. Charter Schools • Local School Boards govern by powers conferred to them by the state
State Agencies • Legislature • Governor • State Board of Education • State Superintendent of Schools • Chairman of the State Board of Education • Local Board of Education • Superintendent of Schools
Local School Boards • It is the responsibility of local Boards of Education to set policy • Local Boards must act as one body • Individual Board members are not empowered to make policies or perform official acts on behalf of the board. • Board meetings are subject to public records law and must always be open to the public • A majority of Board members cannot meet without public notice
Local School Boards • Courts tend to not want to interfere with local school board decisions • However, a court will reverse a school board decision that is arbitrary, capricious, or outside the board’s legal authority • State law gives local boards specific legal powers necessary to achieve the purpose of educating students
Local School Boards • Are authorized to perform discretionary duties (those involving judgment) • School personnel can only perform ministerial duties necessary to carry out policies. • Employees work for the board not the principal/individual school • Educators create rules and procedures that support policy
Federal Role in Education • US Constitution • Silent about Education • Does confer basic rights on individuals • These rights must be respected by school personnel • The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and state authority over education must be exercised consistent with its provisions
General Welfare Clause • Article I, Section 8: • Congress has the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debt and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.” • Legislation has been enacted to provide monetary support base on the general welfare clause
Obligation of Contracts Clause • Article 1, Section 10: • “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility” • Administrators, certified staff, and non-certified staff are protected from arbitrary dismissals by contractual agreements
Bill of Rights:1st Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” What liberties are protected by the 1st Amendment?
Bill of Rights:4th Amendment “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” What liberties are protected by the 4th Amendment?
Bill of Rights:8th Amendment “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines be imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.” What liberties are protected by the 8th Amendment?
14th Amendment Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the Untied States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” What liberties are protected by the 14th Amendment?
14th Amendment:Due Process Clause • States are prohibited from denying citizens of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. • Property Rights: legitimate expectations of entitlement created through state laws, regulations, or contracts.
14th Amendment:Due Process Clause • Implications • Compulsory school attendance gives students a property right to attend school • Tenure gives teachers a property right for continued employment • Supreme Court precedence supports the notion that states cannot interfere with fundamental constitutional liberties.
14th Amendment:Due Process Clause • The 14th Amendment is important in school litigation since education is a state function; claims that public school policies or practices impair personal freedoms (e.g. First Amendment free speech guarantees) often are initiated through the Fourteenth Amendment.
Federal Legislation • Federal Funding (Categorical) • Title 1 • Exceptional Children • Child Nutrition • No Child Left Behind Each state can reject this funding; however, if accepted it must follow federal guidelines:
Civil Rights Laws: • All Educational Institutions must comply with these laws: • Title VII: Employment Discrimination • Can’t discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin • Age Discrimination Act of 1967: • Protects employees over the age of 40 against age-base discrimination • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972: • Barred sex discrimination against participants in education programs
Civil Rights Laws: • Rehabilitation Act of 1973: • Prohibiting discrimination against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities • Age Discrimination Act of 1975 • Barring age discrimination in federally assisted programs or activities • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act • Guarantees parents access to their children’s records and keeps the records confidential
Function and Structure of the Judicial System • State Courts • Trial Courts, • Courts of General Jurisdiction, • (can hear all kinds, criminal, civil, family, probate, and so forth) • Courts of Special Jurisdiction • (can hear only certain types of cases, bankruptcy, family matters, etc.)
Function and Structure of the Judicial System • Federal Courts • District Courts • Circuit Courts of Appeal • The Supreme Court • 13 federal circuits: North Carolina is in what circuit?