Education law and the term “school law” is the name given to the branch of civil law that covers the laws and regulations that govern federal and state education, including the administration and operation of educational institutions, school athletics, instruction methods, programs, and materials. This area of law encompasses issues relating to school faculty, staff, and students, including school discipline and discrimination based on race, color, national original, sex, or disability in violation of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act, Title IX of the Federal Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.
Educational Opportunities Discrimination
The Equal Educational Opportunities Act (“EEOA”) prohibits public elementary and secondary schools from:
- Failing to take action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation in a school district’s educational programs
- Deliberately segregating on the basis of race, color or national origin
- Discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin in employment, employment conditions and assignment of faculty and staff
- Transferring students in order to increase segregation on the basis of race, color or national origin among a district’s schools
- Disabilities Discrimination
The Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) provides that schools:
- Can’t discriminate on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of services, goods, facilities, advantages or accommodations
- Must not use eligibility criteria that screen out individuals with disabilities from equally enjoying any goods or services unless they can be shown to be necessary
- Must reasonably modify policies and practices to accommodate disabilities unless such modifications would fundamentally change the nature of the goods and services offered to students .
- Must take steps to make sure students with disabilities aren’t excluded because of the absence of “auxiliary aids”
- Must remove architectural barriers where removal is readily achievable
- The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) requires states and local education agencies to provide a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities.
Freedom Of Expression In Schools
The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution allows you the freedom to speak, write and meet freely with others. And your First Amendment rights to freely express yourself follow you into public school.
The United States Supreme Court has decided that public school officials can’t censure you unless they have a “reasonable expectation” that your expression will cause a “material and substantial disruption” of school activities or invade the rights of others. It’s not enough for school officials to just have what the U.S. Supreme Court called an “undifferentiated fear or apprehension.”
If your child’s being bullied, you might be thinking about a slander or libel lawsuit based on things spoken or printed about your child. Such claims are hard to prove. It’s best to know about a school’s bullying policies and how to get information on school procedures and actions in these matters.