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Education Law
Wayne State University Law School
Benson, Jocelyn

v Student Safety, Privacy, and Freedom of Expression
Ø Intro and Right to Education
§ Promotes equality
§ Promotes legal recourse, when something is in question
§ What is the school supposed to be doing and what are they doing?
§ Goal of Education Law: to enable individuals to achieve their goals
·         How do you determine how this goal is being met?
·         Standardized tests?—may be inadequate
§ Most of cases dance around controversies concerning questions of equality in education and quality education
§ Victory in court does not necessary mean victory in the classroom
§ California has a constitutional standard set in place for equal rights to education—a fundamental right, but schools are arguably failing
§ Most significant controversy in Education Law
·         The evolution of the Right to Education
¨       Equal Opportunity?
¨       Fundamental Right? Above giving equal right to education
¨       Funding?
¨       Adequacy?
·         Who decides? And why?
§ Problem 1: The Right to an Equal Education—p.10
·         Issues Raised
¨       Are the children’s fundamental right to an education being violated?
¨       Whether the technology based education program is providing proper education to the students?
¨       Does the quality of the Nanotech Valley Consortium charter school program fall below prevailing statewide standards?
¨       Does the internet based curriculum and abandonment of the teaching of basic skills violate the right to equal educational opportunity?
·         Arguments for Both Sides
¨       Plaintiff
Ø Inconsistent connections and unreliable equipment cause extensive educational disruption
Ø Internet based curriculum is not equivalent to teaching skills provided elsewhere in the state
Ø Test scores fall below prevailing statewide standards
¨       Defendants
Ø Reliability of test scores
§ May have improved from where they originally tested at
§ May be higher than state average
Ø The Constitution does not prohibit all disparities in educational quality
Ø Internet based curriculum emphasizes analysis and creative problem solving and is within the acceptable range of variance
Ø Internet based curriculum is necessary for economically disadvantage students to gain skills necessary for success
·         Additional Facts that might be needed
¨       What are the prevailing statewide standards?
¨       How did the students score in previous yrs while attending state schools?
¨       What are the state constitutional provisions regarding the fundamental right to an education
·         Determination of likely winner turns on
¨       How extreme the disparity is between the quality of the charter schools and the quality of education provided elsewhere in the state.
Ø Campus Safety and Privacy
§ Liability For Injuries at the K-12 Level
·         Problem 2: Green v. Suburbia Sch. Dist. P. 13
¨       Issues:
Ø What duty/liability doe the school have?
Ø Did Coach Brown breach this duty?
Ø IF Coach Brown was negligent, did his negligence cause Amanda’s injuries
Ø Is school liable for car accident?
¨       Parties argue
Ø P:
§ Brown had duty to supervise, and breached it by going to get lunch
§ Because of breach, activities transpired, resulting in injury to Amanda by drugs and accident
§ School had duty because Amanda was off campus for school activities/functions
§ School had duty make school drug-free zone
Ø D:
§ Drug use not foreseeable, b/c good student
§ Accident not foreseeable
§ Locker room is issue of privacy
§ 8 blocks away
Ø Info needed
§ Drug policy at school
§ Policy to leave school
§ Supervision policies during lunch periods
§ Drug use cause accidents?
§ Were any rumors going around about drug use
Ø Determination likely turn on
§ Whether employees had duty of care and whether they failed that duty and allowed students to engage the activities that transpired
·         State Negligence Law Principles
¨       Breach of a duty to care, owed to the plaintiff, that is the actual and proximate cause of plaintiff’s injury.
Ø Illinois: immunity is granted where state actors are deemed to have been in a position where they were exercising discretion.
Ø Mississippi: immunity granted if educators are deemed to have been using ordinary care in controlling students.
Ø S.C.: a public school district is generally not liable for injuries resulting from negligent supervision unless the supervising educator is grossly negligent
Ø Cal: if statutory liability can be established under provisions of the State’s government code, a successful cause of action can often be maintained.
¨       Duty to supervise
¨       Supervision during extracurriculars
¨       School shootings
¨       Issues relating to race/ethnicity
¨       If sovereign immunity does not apply, educational institutions liable for employees under respondeat superior
¨       At K-12 level both a CL duty and statutory duty to supervise
Ø Adults in these setting held to that degree of care which a person of ordinary prudence, charged with comparable duties, would exercise under the same circumstances.
Ø If student hurts another, breach of school district’s duty of care can generally be found
§ Failure to exercise proper supervision
§ Directing or permitting pupils to engage in activities that might reasonably be foreseen to result in injuries
§ Duty becomes troublesome when injuries occur before, after, or near school, as well as during extracurricular activities.
·         Extent of duty to supervise
¨       Glaser v. Emporia Unified Sch. Dist. No. 253
Ø Issues:
§ Whether the school district owed a duty to Glaser under the circumstances?
§ Was there a duty to supervise?
§ When did harm occur?
Ø Student hit by car before school hours appealed decision. A student being chased by another student ran into a public street and was hit by a car. The school did not provide supervision before school except to students inside the school building. Held: For the school district. The school district was not responsible for supervising students off school property before school hours because the responsibility was not undertaken, nor was the student in the physical custody of the school district.
Ø Arguments for both sides
§ Plaintiff
·         Schools and school personnel have duty to protect the safety of students
·         School district didn’t provide fence for proximity to school
·         The School and Epp had a duty to supervise in any potentially dangerous situation based upon the school district policies
§ Defendant
·         Glaser wasn’t on school grounds when injured
·         Glaser was not in school custody
·         Glaser had option of waiting inside before school started
·         There was no dangerous situation present
·         No duty is owed because no affirmative action was assumed or intended to render services for the benefit of another
Ø Additional Info needed
Ø Determination of likely winner turns on
§ The injuries occurring of school property
§ The school did not have custody of Glaser
§ The school did not owe a duty because no promise or affirmative action was made
¨       Notes
Ø Only the most egregious set of circumstances result in school district liability
·         Problem 3: The Marbury Middle School Lawsuits—p.22
¨       Issues raised:
Ø Does library become school property?
Ø Is librarian part of school faculty and owe duty to students?
Ø Whether or not school had duty, and whether Purview breached that duty
Ø Does school owe duty to non-students with use of library? Was there breach?
Ø Is substitutes duty different from regular teacher’s duty?
¨       Arguments for both sides
Ø P’s arguments
§ Foreseeable that incidents could occur, as the class was told several times to quiet down on way to library—school on notice
§ Librarian owes duty to public for safe library to use
§ School had duty to supervise students, as Purview asked Morrie to supervise, meaning they needed to be supervised—on notice
§ Library is part of school property, school has use of it on a scheduled basis, and it occurred during school hours
§ Relationship between school and library
§ School breached duty with substitute who had poor classroom management skills
Ø D’s arguments
§ Incidents not foreseeable
§ Reasonable prudent person as sub is not the same as a teacher’s
§ Reasonable prudent librarian not as high
§ Occurred off school property under the librarian’s watch
¨       Additional facts that might be needed
Ø Was Purview credentialed teacher
Ø Agreement made between school and library about who is in library at time of visit
Ø Expectations
Ø Was situation set up to where this could occur
¨       Determination of likely winner turns on
Ø Expectations
Ø Whether duty was breached
·         Supervision during Extracurricular Activities
¨       Cerny v. Cedar Bluffs Junior/Senior Pub. Sch.
Ø Issues
§ Was the School under a standard duty of care for the injuries sustained by Cerny?

¨       Question of notice is highly significant, but relatively unexplored
Ø Like failure to warn dispute
Ø  Right to opt out of bilingual educ. Programs
Ø Option to opt out of sex education curriculum
Ø There is also a notice and opportunity to be heard for suspended students under the procedural due process requirements of 14th amendment
§ Liability for injuries at the college & university level
·         Courts look to the same basic negligence principles
¨       Application of principles different b/c of age, setting, and circumstances
¨       Includes disputes like alcohol abuse, hazing, suicide, sexual assault
¨       Use special relationship doctrine, with state courts engaging in a case-by-case determination of whether the facts give rise to a higher duty of care.
Ø Factors
§ Depend on an individual state’s case law
§ On the type of relationship that is identified
Ø Some may be determined by the rubric of the university-student relationship, whereas others may look to a dangerous condition analysis under rules pertaining to landowner and invitee.
·         Higher education negligence-related controversies generally
¨       Problem 5: Perot v. Univ. Of El Dorado –Spring Fling case
Ø Issues:
§ What is the school’s liability, if any?
§ To what extent is it school-sponsored?
§ Do they have duty to supervise during the spring fling? And was it breached?
·         Was the university’s failure to supervise a breach?
Ø Arguments for both sides
§ P
·         Everyone entitled to supervision
·         School should have provided security
·         Private owner had let school use it and it had become an extension of the school’s property
·         Violence foreseeable, especially with alcohol being involved
·         Could only get there through the university campus
·         It’s a frat party, supervision should be there, because foreseeable that non-students show up
·         Could have limited liability by only allowing students
·         Universities permit frats and frats are under regulations of university
·         Presumption that school provides safe environment for students
§ D
·         It was on private property
·         Students involved, not students of the school. Therefore, no relationship and therefore no responsibility or obligation to them
·         No duty because they are not really involved
¨       No idea former students going to show, especially Marine Corps. People
·         How can foresee these non-students showing up
·         Not a school sponsor event because frats are like their own entity
Ø Additional info needed
§ What are the regulations for school events/parties?
§ Regulations for security?
§ What happened at past spring flings?
§ Were all students of legal drinking age?
Ø Determination likely to turn on
§ Regulations
§ Duty of the university
¨       Peterson v. San Francisco Cmty. Coll. Dist.
Ø Facts: P, a student, sustained injuries as a result of an attempted daylight rape in the parking lot area of the campus. district owes duty to its students to protect them from reasonably foreseeable assaults on campus. District is immune from liability for failure to provide adequate police protection, it is not immune for failure to warn its students of known dangers posed by criminals on the campus
§ Factors to look at
·         Foreseeability of harm to P
·         Degree of certainty that the P suffered injury
·         Closeness of the connection between the defendant’s conduct and the injury suffered,
·         the moral blame attached to the defendant’s conduct