Articles Posted in Education Law

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N.L. met Nicholas Clark at school track practice. She was 14, and he was 18. Both were students in the Bethel School District. Neither N.L. nor any responsible adult on the field knew that Clark was a registered sex offender who had previously sexually assaulted a younger girl who had been about N.L. 'sage at the time. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department had informed Clark's school principal of his sex offender status, but the principal took no action in response. Clark persuaded N.L. to leave campus with him and raped her. N.L. sued the district, alleging negligence. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review centered on whether the School District’s duty to N.L. ended when she left campus and whether its alleged negligence, as a matter of law, was not a proximate cause of her injury. The Court answered both questions “no,” affirming the Court of Appeals’ judgment reversing the trial court’s dismissal of this case on summary judgment. View "N.L. v. Bethel Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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This case was a direct review of a King County Superior Court decision that found certain portions of Initiative 1240 (I-1240) (Charter School Act), codified at chapter 28A.710 RCW, unconstitutional but left the remainder of the Act standing. In November 2012, Washington voters approved I-1240 providing for the establishment of up to 40 charter schools within five years. The Act was intended to provide parents with "more options" regarding the schooling of their children. But the new schools came with a trade-off: the loss of local control and1local accountability. Charter schools are exempt from many state rules. With the exception of "the specific state statutes and rules" identified in RCW 28A.710.040(2) and any "state statutes and rules made applicable to the charter school in the school's charter contract," charter schools were "not subject to and are exempt from all other state statutes and rules applicable to school districts and school district boards of directors ... in areas such as scheduling, personnel, funding, and educational programs." Alarmed over the lack of local accountability and fiscal impacts of the Act, appellants sued the State seeking a declaratory judgment that the Act was unconstitutional. Several supporters of charter schools intervened. All three parties moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted summary judgment to the State and intervenors on all issues but one. The trial court held that charter schools were not "common schools" under article IX of Washington's Constitution and, therefore, the common school construction fund could not be appropriated to charter schools. The trial court found, however, that the provisions permitting such appropriations were severable. The trial court concluded that the Act was otherwise constitutional. All parties sought direct review, which the Washington Supreme Court granted. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the provisions of I-1240 that designated and treated charter schools as common schools violated article IX, section 2 of the state constitution and were void. This included the Act's funding provisions, which attempted to tap into and shift a portion of moneys allocated for common schools to the new charter schools authorized by the Act. Because the provisions designating and funding charter schools as common schools were integral to the Act, such void provisions were not severable, and that determination was dispositive of this case. View "League of Women Voters of Wash. v. Washington" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court was the overall adequacy of state funding for K-12 education under the Washington State Constitution. "The legislature must develop a basic education program geared toward delivering the constitutionally required education, and it must fully fund that program through regular and dependable tax sources." The Court found that the State failed to meet its duty under the constitution by consistently providing school districts with a level of resources that fell short of the actual costs of the basic education program. The legislature enacted reforms to remedy the deficiencies in the funding system, and the Court deferred to the legislature's chosen means of discharging its duty. However, the Court retained jurisdiction over the case to help ensure progress in the State's plan to fully implement education reforms by 2018. The Court directed the parties to provide further briefing to the Court addressing the preferred method for retaining jurisdiction. View "McCleary v. Washington" on Justia Law

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Ten special education students and their parents and guardians (Appellants) sued Clover Park School District for intentional torts, outrage, negligence and unlawful discrimination under state law. Clover Park moved for summary judgment to dismiss, arguing that Appellants had not exhausted the administrative remedies available under the state Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The trial court granted Clover Park’s motion. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court and remanded the case, holding that IDEA’s administrative exhaustion requirement does not apply to state-law claims nor does Washington State law require exhaustion before filing such claims. View "Dowler v. Clover Park Sch. Dist. No. 400" on Justia Law

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In this case the issue presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether a thirteen-year old was denied due process rights when she was not appointed counsel at a truancy hearing. Despite a district court's order to attend school, E.S. missed classes from 2005 to 2007. At first, E.S. and her mother attended the hearings, but were not represented by counsel, nor did they ask that counsel be present. The court explained that E.S. would be "sentenced" to house arrest, work crew and detention if she did not comply with the order, but she continued to miss school. At E.S.' last court appearance, she was represented by counsel. She was ordered to spend six days in detention with electronic monitoring. E.S., through her attorney, filed a motion to have the home detention set aside, which was denied. The Court of Appeals vacated E.S.' sentence, finding that the child's "interests in her liberty, privacy and right to education [were] in jeopardy" at the truancy hearings, and that due process required counsel at each appearance. On appeal to the Supreme Court, the School District argued that Washington courts never required the appointment of counsel to protect a child's privacy and education interests. The Supreme Court agreed with the District. Upon review of the record, the state constitution and the applicable legal authority, the Court found that E.S. was not denied due process rights because she was not appointed counsel in the initial truancy hearings. The Court reversed the Court of Appeals' decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Bellevue Sch. Dist. v. E.S." on Justia Law