Legal Frontiers in Education: Complex Law Issues for Leaders, Policymakers and Policy Implementers: Volume 24
Table of contents(23 chapters)
List of Contributors
The purpose of this chapter is to examine selected state laws regarding cyberbullying. The advances in technology have allowed bullying to take an online form, where bullies can remain anonymous and access their targets 24 hours a day. The online bullying has left school leaders in a legal dilemma as to how and when to address an incident that occurs off school grounds. The laws which guide school leaders are found at the state level. The major inconsistencies between state laws are illustrated in this chapter. The findings in recent research reveal that some state bullying laws define specific terms such as electronic communication, and intimidation, and harassment. Some state laws provide a detailed protocol for how teachers and administrators should report and handle online bullying that has an impact on the school environment. However, some states leave developing a protocol up to individual school districts. The varying school cyberbullying laws and policies mean that leaders across the United States do not have a unified way to handle issues originating off-campus. However, school leaders should have a comprehensive policy which helps to address cyberbullying issues. This chapter includes a critical examination of current laws in the states and a review of proposed federal statutes presently stalled in the U.S. Congress.
While there are myriad legal issues confronting school leaders, the focus on the complexities involving special education law and bullying has increased recently. The U.S. Department of Education wrote in a 2014 “Dear Colleague Letter” (Guidance) that its office “has received an ever-increasing number of complaints concerning the bullying of students with disabilities and the effects of that bullying on their education, including on the special education and related services to which they are entitled” (p. 1). The Guidance as well as recent litigation illustrates how plaintiffs have alleged violations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act when students with disabilities are bullied in schools. In this chapter, after discussing the related literature and the legal context, we examine several illustrative recent cases and the 2014 Guidance to highlight the relevant issues for school leaders. We conclude with recommendations and emphasize that school leaders must become knowledgeable about this emerging legal topic. Specifically, with a greater understanding of how they can prevent and respond to the bullying of students with disabilities, school leaders have the power to make great social change within schools.
The American public greatly esteems their First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but generally understands poorly its true ambit. Unfortunately, this defect in understanding permeates American educational institutions, from the lowest grades to higher education and even professional schools. Students’ pervasive ability to engage in technological speech and expression further complicates the issue, especially when inappropriate or offensive speech originating outside school crosses the geographic boundary and enters school. School administrators at all levels, challenged with maintaining atmospheres of safety and security conducive to learning, are being asked to respond to such student speech, but they fear to exceed the limits of their authority. Cyberbullying and harassing communications continue to distract victims and educators and detract from the quality of education at all institutions. The legal system and judiciary provide little guidance, and what guidance there is suffers from lack of consistent definitions and conflicting analyses. This chapter will review the jurisprudence pertaining to the First Amendment as applied to the school setting. The emphasis will be on legislative, judicial, and societal responses to cyberbullying and cyber harassment in the school setting, from the elementary level to higher education. Finally, recommendations for policies and procedures for dealing with cyberbullying and cyber harassment in schools will be presented.
In the 1982, ruling of Plyler v. Doe the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that undocumented children cannot be denied a public education. Yet, as this chapter is being written in 2015, states across the United States have passed statutes preventing the education of these children and by practical extension documented children and their families. A package of Executive Actions by President Obama in November of 2014 modestly benefited and impacted the rights of undocumented immigrants, but did not challenge the state laws affecting school children and university students. In this chapter, we will review the rights to education of immigrant children. We will review the national scene as it stands amidst confusion in the absence of meaningful immigration reform by the U.S. Congress and the puzzle of the states arbitrarily denying rights flowing from the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, carefully articulated in Plyler. We intend to present a blunt portrait of rights denied and children left behind.
Language is a social and engaging process (Bloom & Lahey, 1978), which is not fully formed until a child is six or seven (Roseberry-McKibben, 2007). Language is developed through social experiences, modeling, observing, and experimenting. Yet our educational system operates on the premise that typically developing children enter kindergarten, at age five with a firm foundation in speaking and listening, and equivalent exposures to pre-literacy skills (Roseberry-McKibben, 2007). For many children who speak a first language other than English, this is not the case. Typically, their first language is not supported in school, and the expectation is that they will learn to speak, communicate, and use English in order to understand grade level core content. Thus, they begin their education at a disadvantage. For many children this expectation creates an initial learning knowledge gap that appears to widen annually. This chapter will examine the literature related to language development and second language learning and the laws and mandates that drive our classroom practice.
The current 5.4 million English Learners (ELs) make up the lowest performing academic group in the United States (US) today. A number of weaknesses and struggles in the field of EL education have been simmering below the surface for years, and while previously treated as an unspoken dysfunction in our education system, the inequitable treatment of ELs can no longer be ignored. There is an urgent need to ensure equitable, inclusive, high-quality educational opportunities and outcomes for ELs, including preparation for college and career readiness. This study relies on two established legal policy research methodologies, specifically the four-step method of analysis and the quantitative method of “simple-box scoring,” to systematically analyze case law outcomes and identify seven litigation trends from cases over the past 40 years. This research can provide alternative proactive remedies other than costly litigation and demonstrates the need for a more effective coordination of mechanisms to unite institutions that service ELs. This study bridges the gap of critical knowledge needed to help educators, attorneys, and professors who prepare school leaders and teachers to meet legal requirements for ELs, each of whom are entitled by law to access mainstream curriculum. Further limitations and implications are presented.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children diagnosed with autism has increased dramatically, especially over the past decade. Most recently, the CDC estimates that an average of one in 88 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In terms of numbers, this translates into approximately 730,000 people between the ages of 0 and 21 who have ASD. While the primary cause(s) of increases in the identification of autistic students continue to generate debate school officials across the nation need to be prepared for the changing legal landscape associated with children diagnosed with ASD. The primary purpose of this chapter is to provide a detailed legal/policy update of the leading legal considerations and concerns involving K-12 students with autism. The chapter will discuss four specific legal topics involving the identification and eligibility of K-12 students with autism. These four legal topics include: Changes in the New DSM-5 Diagnostic Manuel and its Impact on Legal Definitions of Autism; Insurance Reform and Autism Coverage: A Comparison of the States; Developing Legally Compliant Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for High-Functioning Students with Autism, and; Recent Legal Developments in Case Law Involving K-12 students who are autistic. The chapter will conclude with a detailed discussion of how today’s school officials can become more legally literate and better serve the legal needs of students with autism in their schools.
This chapter examines the relationship between community educational attainment and Fourth Amendment legal principles being implemented in public schools. Using education attainment data obtained from the U.S. Census, this study examined the influence of educational attainment on how searches of students were conducted and the relative legal and judicial outcomes. The results of this study offer insight on issues related to forms of discipline in public schools and contribute to knowledge bases in the fields of economics, law, social theory, and educational leadership and administration.
Prior studies regarding the Fourth Amendment in schools focused largely on administrative decisions, judgments, and practices, but the aspect of educational attainment has been minimally investigated. Findings suggest community educational attainment has little to no predictive influence on aspects related to student searches examined in the study, which include the intrusiveness level of the search and the number of searches occurring during a single search event. Implications for future research and leadership are discussed.
Educational leaders in schools serving Native American students must understand, communicate, and apply state and federal education policies along with specific federal Indian policies relating to tribal self-determination and the education of these students. Tribal peoples residing in native communities typically view revitalization of indigenous language as a crucial first step in achieving the cross-cultural goal of school success for all tribal children. Inclusion of indigenous languages serves multiple purposes such as transmitting traditional cultural values, supporting overall academic achievement, and fostering self-determination and independence for native communities. Title III and Title VII of the No Child Left Behind Act are the designated policy “homes” for indigenous language inclusion and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act addresses indigenous language as an obstacle to overcome, giving the unintended impression that native languages are somehow situated within a deficit framework of poverty and special education. This chapter explores the foundations of the inclusion of native languages into current federal policy and argues that the placement might be better suited as stand-alone legislation in order to more effectively promote community development and self-determination for Native American peoples.
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.) establishes basic levels of service, support, and protection for homeless students and families in the United States and specifically prohibits discrimination while ensuring educational rights. According to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, homelessness continues to be a pervasive concern, particularly for children under the age of 18 who account for nearly 25% (135,701) of homeless individuals, and youth between 18 and 24 who represent nearly 10% (58,601) of the homeless population. Despite the statutory protections afforded by McKinney-Vento, a number of barriers persist and prevent full enjoyment of the basic rights established by the Act. Overcoming these barriers in the courts has provided some relief, but is insufficient given the limits of McKinney-Vento. Thus, homeless students and families need school leaders who promote social justice and educational opportunities to prepare them for meaningful participation in democratic society. This chapter provides analysis regarding the legal rights of homeless youth, including an overview of significant cases and federal policy updates, and concludes with several recommendations for school leaders to establish clear guidelines and implement procedures to address the educational needs of homeless students.
School resource officers (SROs) are sworn law enforcement who are responsible for providing security and crime prevention services in the American school environment. SROs have become commonplace in American schools, but support for their continued work is meeting more resistance from those who feel that schools need to be focused on education and not police actions. The responsibilities of SROs are similar to regular police officers in that they have the ability to make arrests, respond to calls for service, and document incidents that occur within their jurisdiction. They are expected to be more than a law enforcement officer; they are expected to be leaders, educate students about law-related topics; be a role model to youth; and typically have additional duties to include mentoring and conducting presentations on youth-related issues. SRO programs receive valuable augmented training from a partner in school safety, the non-profit organization – National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). Towards this end, we will: (1) provide a historical context of SRO programs in the United States, (2) highlight concerns and challenges of school communities, (3) briefly present the case of SRO in Los Angeles, and (4) highlight implications for educational leadership. Conclusions and recommendations are presented.
Student speech has and continues to be a contested issue in schools. While the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker that students do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse gate, in the Kuhlmeier and Fraser decisions the Court gave school officials greater latitude in regulating student speech, especially when it bears the imprimatur of the school. However, in its Frederick decision, the Court established school officials as the arbiters of the meaning of student speech. This chapter will explore the underlying values in schools that rejected the speech of Fraser while accepting the speech act of cheerleaders’ dance routines. It will examine how the interpretation of these speech acts by school officials contributes to gender reproduction, with all the inequalities imposed.
Differences in the cost of living and the general attractiveness of communities lead to significant, regional differences in the prices school districts must pay for their most important resource – people. According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, labor costs differ by more than 50% from the lowest-cost district to the highest-cost district within California, Florida, New York, Texas, and West Virginia. Furthermore, all states but Hawaii and Rhode Island face at least a 7.7% internal differential in labor cost. Most states fail to account for such cost differences in their school finance formulas, leading to inequitable differences in school district purchasing power. This chapter compares and contrasts the various strategies states use to make geographic cost adjustments to their school funding formula, describes the implications of geographic adjustment for interstate and intrastate measures of school finance equity (and corresponding litigation), and discusses the impact that such adjustments could have on the distribution of federal aid for economically disadvantaged students under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Collective bargaining significantly impacts education policies, especially at the school district level. Its reach extends to consequential issues such as teacher evaluation and pay, to name a few. Because of this close link, education stakeholders disagree about the role of bargaining in education. On the one hand, some argue for the complete elimination of bargaining rights of teachers. This, according to some, will allow administrators the freedom to implement necessary reforms without the obligation to negotiate with unions. On the other hand, some note that collective bargaining provides a channel for teachers to voice their expertise in education. Under this view, bargaining is an essential component of advancing policy initiatives. Regardless, because collective bargaining is a creature of state statute, any modifications to those rights must occur by operation of law. Put another way, the law concerning collective bargaining plays a pivotal role in moderating the influence of unions and administrators regarding education policy. Given this interrelationship, a thorough exploration of the issue is warranted. Accordingly, this chapter will: (1) discuss the historical and legal framework of collective bargaining in public education; (2) highlight the ongoing debate regarding the appropriate role, if any, of it (and unions) in education policies; (3) identify significant changes to collective bargaining statutes that have occurred or have been proposed; (4) suggest recommendations to policymakers and leaders that will assist them in understanding both the potential and the limits of collective bargaining in improving schools.
About the Authors
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- Advances in Educational Administration
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- Emerald Publishing Limited
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