Connecticut Education Law Blog

Connecticut Education Law Blog

Category Archives: Constitutional Issues

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The United States Supreme Court Sends Virginia Transgender Bathroom Case Back to the 4th Circuit

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Transgender issues
March 6, 2017 marks a significant development in the case of Gloucester v. G.G., the closely followed and highly publicized Virginia transgender student bathroom case. The Gloucester case involves a local school board policy that effectively denies a transgender male high school student use of his school’s male bathroom and, in turn, the student’s claim… Continue Reading

Connecticut Swiftly Responds to Federal Rollback of Transgender Student Protections

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Transgender issues
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has acted quickly to respond to recent developments in Federal law affecting the rights of transgender students by issuing an executive order reasserting the State’s protections for transgender people.  Despite a change in Federal guidance, and as detailed below, Connecticut affords greater protections to transgender people than currently provided under… Continue Reading

The United States Department of Justice Withdraws Its Objection to a Nationwide Order Banning the Implementation and Enforcement of the Departments of Justice and Education’s Guidance on Transgender Students

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Transgender issues
On February 10, 2017, the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Trump administration withdrew a motion made in November 2016 under the Obama administration with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit; in its motion, the DOJ objected to a Texas Federal Court judge’s nationwide ban on the enforcement by… Continue Reading

CCEJF v. Rell: Where Do We Stand?

Posted in Constitutional Issues
On September 7, 2016, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued a 255-page Memorandum of Decision in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, a case that has been pending for more than 10 years. The decision held that the State provides a constitutionally acceptable amount of funding for education, but the distribution… Continue Reading

Gun Bill Includes Many New Requirements For School Boards

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Regular Education, Student Matters
While the other aspects of Connecticut’s new gun control law have received more notoriety, the new law included a number of provisions intended to improve school safety and security including the following:  Requires each school to have a safety committee; Requires each school to conduct a risk vulnerability assessment; Require each school to have a… Continue Reading

Who’s watching who? And who can review?

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Regular Education, Student Matters, Uncategorized
  School administrators frequently grapple with the treatment of video recordings. From Constitutional issues to concerns about education records, administrators need to be aware of how to use surveillance cameras appropriately and how to respond to requests for copies of those video recordings. As more and more districts are using video surveillance in schools, this issue promises… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Student Off-Campus Online Speech Cases

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Regular Education, Student Matters
As you may recall from our previous posts regarding student’s online speech, the summer of 2011 brought with it a split in the Circuit Courts regarding how to handle discipline of student’s off-campus online  speech.  Specifically, the cases J.S. v. Blue Mountain Sch. Dist. and Layshock v. Hermitage Sch. Dist. out of the Third Circuit and Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools… Continue Reading

Second Circuit Again Sides with District in Recent First Amendment Case

Posted in Constitutional Issues
The issue in Cox v. Warwick Valley Central School District stemmed from a student assignment to write an essay for English class. The teacher asked students to write about what they would do if they had 24 hours to live. While this sort of creative writing occurs every day in classrooms across the country, teachers sometimes… Continue Reading

Circuit Courts Continue Battle Over Free Speech Rights for Students

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Regular Education, Student Matters
School districts in Connecticut looking for guidance on how to handle discipline of students engaging in provocative speech on-line at home have been watching with interest the outcome of two cases in the Third Circuit that seemed to reach conflicting results.  Both cases were re-heard by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc,… Continue Reading

U.S. Federal Court Gives Constitutional Nod to New Hampshire Patriot Act Authorizing Daily Time for Public School Students to Cite the Pledge of Allegiance

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Regular Education
In the most recent of legal challenges to the recitation of our country’s Pledge of Allegiance by public school students, the U. S. Federal Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rendered a decision last month in the case of Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Hanover School District, 09-2473. In this case, the Court upheld… Continue Reading

U.S. District Court Rules that Employees’ Social Networking Sites Are Discoverable in a Sexual Harassment Suit against Employer

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Labor and Employment
In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Simply Storage Management, L.L.C. and O.B. Management Services, 2010 U.S. Dist., LEXIS 527661, (“E.E.O.C. v. Simply Storage”) the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, was asked to decide a basic discovery issue in a novel context when the parties to this sexual harassment suit failed to agree… Continue Reading

School District’s Suspicionless Sweeps of School Parking Lots and Unattended Lockers Using Sniffer Dogs Upheld As Constitutional by Connecticut Superior Court

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Regular Education, Student Matters
The Connecticut Superior Court in Burbank v. Canton Bd. Of Education,  2009 WL 3366272 (Conn. Super. 9/14/09)  ruled against parents and students who sought to prohibit the Canton Public School District from continuing its practice of using local police to conduct suspicionless sweeps of parking lots and unattended lockers at its middle and high schools… Continue Reading

Obama’s Stimulus Package Offers COBRA Premium Reduction to Involuntarily Terminated Employees

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Labor and Employment
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”) provides for a temporary extension of employer-provided group health coverage, which is commonly referred to as COBRA continuation coverage. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“Act”), which President Obama signed on February 17, 2009, includes several changes to COBRA continuation coverage that employers quickly need to address. The… Continue Reading

Berchem, Moses & Devlin Announces the Opening of its Westport Office

Posted in Announcements, Constitutional Issues, Regular Education, Special Education, Student Matters
Two Historic Law Firms Join Forces to Become Pre-eminent Connecticut Firm Two of the oldest law firms in Connecticut have joined forces in a move that will create one of the most comprehensive legal services businesses in the state. Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C. and Wake, See, Dimes, Bryniczka & Bloom (of Westport, Conn.) have… Continue Reading

Emerging Category of Discrimination – Caregivers

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Labor and Employment
On May 23, 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) issued guidance on the treatment of employees with “caregiver responsibilities.” While the federal discrimination statutes do not directly prohibit discrimination against “caregivers,” the new EEOC guidance does note that discrimination against caregivers that is grounded in a federally protected class, such as sex or disability, can… Continue Reading

FMLA: President Signs Military-Related FMLA Changes

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Labor and Employment
On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 (“NDAA”). Section 585 of the NDAA amends the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”). The NDAA provides two new types of FMLA leave to employees with family members serving in the military: 1. Caregiver Leave: Permits… Continue Reading

Connecticut General Assembly Adopts Legislation Requiring Background Checks and Drug Testing of School Bus Drivers

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Labor and Employment, Regular Education
In at least partial response to an incident in which a pedestrian was struck and killed by a school bus driver who had cocaine in his system, a law has been passed which now requires background checks and random drug testing of school bus drivers. While bus drivers employed by school districts are already subject to… Continue Reading

High Court Rules in Favor of School District and Principal in “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” Case

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Regular Education, Student Matters
The principal of the Juneau-Douglas High School allowed students and staff, during school hours, to leave class and observe as the Olympic Torch Relay passed through Juneau. Joseph Frederick, a senior at the high school, came to school late that day but joined the spectators across the street from the school to watch the relay.  He,… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Ruling on Special Education

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Special Education
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants parents independent legal rights which encompass the entitlement to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for their child.  The decision means that non-attorney parents can litigate IDEA claims in federal court unrepresented by legal counsel, because they are acting on… Continue Reading

Federal Rules for Electronic Discovery

Posted in Constitutional Issues
This past December, new Federal Court rules for electronic discovery went into place. In short, the rules require the retention and disclosure of electronically stored data, including e-mails, which relate to any federal court lawsuits in which the district is involved. Specifically, the new rules provide that (1) a party may serve interrogatories concerning and/or request… Continue Reading