Articles Posted in Education Law

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Pursuant to 2011 amendments to statutes addressing collective bargaining for teachers and their employees, when parties failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) regarding salaries and wages, the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board (IEERB) appoints a mediator. If the mediation fails, the parties must exchange their last best offers (LBOs). A factfinder appointed by the IEERB then selects which side’s LBO to adopt as the CBA. In this case, a teachers association appealed a factfinder’s decision to adopt a school’s LBO. The IEERB affirmed the factfinder’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the adopted LBO was collectively bargained and lawful. View "Jay Classroom Teachers Ass’n v. Jay School Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an elementary school principal, was terminated after the school board learned that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with a teacher. Plaintiff filed a complaint against school defendants, alleging breach of contract and that the notice and procedure utilized by the school board in terminating his administrator’s contract denied him due process. The superior court granted summary judgment for the School. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the hearing process described in the teacher’s termination statute does not apply to termination of an administrator when his underlying teaching contract is not being terminated; (2) the language in Plaintiff’s form teacher’s contract referring to a hearing with the benefit of counsel and a just cause determination applies only to Plaintiff’s underlying teacher’s contract and not his administrator’s contract; and (3) under the circumstances of this case, Plaintiff received constitutional due process. View "Hewitt v. Westfield Washington Sch. Corp." on Justia Law

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In 2010, due to a large budget deficit, Franklin Township Community School Corporation voted to discontinue transportation services for the majority of students attending its public schools. Parents of students who attend public schools in Franklin School Corporation brought a class action suit seeking a declaratory judgment that discontinuing transportation is prohibited under the Education Clause of the Indiana Constitution. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Franklin School Corporation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Indiana Constitution does not mandate school corporations to provide transportation to and from school, and therefore, Franklin School Corporation did not violate a constitutional mandate. View "Hoagland v. Franklin Township Cmty. Sch. Corp." on Justia Law

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When Mother and Father’s marriage was dissolved in 1994, the trial court awarded Mother primary care and custody of the parties’ daughter (Daughter) and ordered Father to pay child support. In 2011, after Daughter enrolled at Ball State University (BSU), Mother petitioned to modify child support, requesting that Father pay Daughter’s postsecondary educational expenses. Daughter withdrew from BSU in 2012 and attempted to enroll at Indian University Northwest. BSU, however, would not release Daughter’s official transcript because of her outstanding tuition bill. Mother requested to join BSU as a supplemental defendant. The trial court granted the request and ordered BSU to release the transcript. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court’s order was appealable as of right under Indiana Appellate Rule 14(A)(3); and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in granting Mother’s motion for joinder, as Mother failed to carry her burden in demonstrating that BSU was a necessary party under Trial Rule 19. View "Ball State University v. Irons" on Justia Law

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Mrs. Bridgewater, a Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society, Inc. (FACES) member parent, filed a complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, alleging that FACES refused a reasonable accommodation for her allergic daughter by not serving her beef instead of chicken at a social event, therefore discriminating against her due to her disability. FACES subsequently expelled the Bridgewater family. Mrs. Bridgewater then filed a second complaint with the Commission, alleging that FACES unlawfully retaliated against her family for filing the disability discrimination claim. FACES filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the Commission did not have subject-matter jurisdiction because FACES was a religious organization, not an educational one. The Commission denied the motion to dismiss and awarded judgment in favor of Mrs. Bridgewater on the retaliatory discrimination claim. The Supreme Court vacated the Commission’s final order, holding that the Commission lacked authority to take any action other than the dismissal of these claims because the incident giving rise to the claims was not related to education and was thus not within the Commission’s prerequisite statutory authority. Remanded to grant FACES’s motion to dismiss as to both claims. View "Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Soc’y, Inc. v. Bridgewater" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, several Indiana taxpayers, brought an action challenging Indiana's statutory program for providing vouchers to eligible parents for their use in sending their children to private schools. Plaintiffs contended that the school voucher program violated three provisions of the Indiana Constitution. The trial court granted Defendant-intervenors' motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the enacted program (1) was within the legislature's power under Ind. Const. art. VIII, 1 to provide for a general and uniform system of common schools; (2) did not violate Ind. Const. art. I, 6 by impermissibly providing direct benefits to religious institutions; and (3) did not contravene Ind. Const. art. I, 4 by requiring persons to support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against Plaintiffs' consent. View "Meredith v. Pence" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Maria Rosales filed this wrongful death action against LaPorte Community School Corporation after her son choked to death on food while eating lunch at his elementary school. The jury returned a $5 million verdict for Plaintiff, and judgment was entered in the sum of $500,000, the maximum amount then permitted under the Indiana Tort Claims Act. The School Corporation appealed. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, concluding that the trial court erred in giving certain jury instructions. The Supreme Court granted transfer and agreed that the giving of the instruction, which could have reasonably been interpreted and applied by the jury in a way that substantially misstated Plaintiff's burden of proof with respect to establishing negligence on the part of the School Corporation, required reversal, but the error created by the instruction related only to the issue of liability and did not affect the jury's assessment of damages. Remanded for a new trial on the issue of liability only. View " LaPorte Cmty. Sch. Corp. v. Rosales " on Justia Law