The Ninth Circuit appropriately summarized the difficult job of a school administrator in Wynar v. Douglas County School District when Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown noted that “[w]ith the advent of the Internet and in the wake of school shootings at Columbine, Santee, Newtown and many others, school administrators face the daunting task of evaluating potential threats of violence and keeping their students safe without impinging on their constitutional rights. It is a feat like tightrope balancing, where an error in judgment can lead to a tragic result.”
The California Supreme Court has ruled that a school district may face liability if it negligently hired a known child abuser and then allowed the person to closely interact with students as a counselor without adequate supervision.
The charter school movement has swept across California, as it has in other states. Proposition 39, approved by the voters in 2000, added section 47614 to the state Education Code, which provides that “[e]ach school district shall make available, to each charter school operating in the school district, facilities sufficient for the charter school to accommodate all of the charter schools in-district students in conditions reasonably equivalent to those in which the students would be accommodated if they were attending other public schools of the district.”
When California voters passed Proposition 209 in 1996, many people thought there would be few legal issues to follow in its wake. After all, the essence of the proposition was simple: no more racial and sex preference programs in public employment, education or contracting. The measure was upheld by both the California Supreme Court (Hi-Voltage Wire Words, Inc. v City of San Jose, 24 Cal.4th 537 (2000)) and the Ninth Circuit (Coalition for Economic Equity v. Wilson, 122 F.3d 692 (9th Cir. 1997)).
Receiving an accurate paycheck is a basic right, yet for many school teachers and administrators, it can be a nightmare.Why is this so?Because school districts are notorious for making mistakes. In San Francisco and Oakland, for example, we have represented a number of employees who have either been underpaid or overpaid.That’s right:they have done their jobs (and done them properly) but their employer has made a mistake and cut them a paycheck for the wrong amount.
One of the most difficult issues for a school principal is to determine student discipline.
In the Internet age, that task becomes even more problematic because today there is substantial student speech – and a substantial possibility of “hurtful speech” – that occurs outside of the classroom and away from campus. For that reason, school principals are starting to confront the issue of “cyberbullying”: cases where a student (or group of students) posts defamatory or negative comments about other students on an Internet web site.
In a lengthy decision that includes an impassioned dissent, the Ninth Circuit has upheld a local school district’s practice of having students recite the pledge of allegiance to the American flag as part of a “patriotic exercise” designed to comply with Education Code section 52720.