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Monday, April 8, 2013

Education Admin Web Advisor: Issue 23, Spril 8, 2013

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Issue 23 · April 8, 2013
A task force organized and funded by the National Rifle Association made eight recommendations to improve school safety, including placement of armed protectors in every school building in America.
The superintendent and other educators in the Atlanta, Georgia, public school system turned themselves in to face charges that they orchestrated or participated in a widespread conspiracy to change the scores on standardized student performance tests.
A "national conversation" has gotten under way in which teachers are contributing their perspectives to public policy efforts aimed at transforming the teaching profession for the 21st century.
Preventing school-based gang activity begins with understanding students' motivations for joining gangs. With that understanding, educators have many tools for dealing with the destructive influence of gangs on their students.
A U.S. appeals court struck down a voter-approved ballot initiative in Michigan that forbids preferential treatment of applicants to state-funded colleges and universities based on their race, ethnicity, or gender. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, even though it is still considering the constitutionality of a race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas.
The Department of Education removed a safe harbor in its regulations that allowed pay incentives for school recruiters based on students successfully completing their academic program (or one year of the program).
Online Briefings for Education Leaders
Click for more details and to register ...
Thursday, April 11, 2013 @ 1 PM Eastern
An inclusive workplace sparks innovation, creativity, and intellectual reach. Find out how to establish a faculty and staff diversity management program that takes your institution to a whole new level.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 @ 1 PM Eastern
Schools rely on volunteers to help in the main office or in classrooms and to fund-raise and manage school functions, and interns working as student teachers or aides are common. These may seem like simple "unpaid" volunteer or intern situations, but the Fair Labor Standards Act might see it differently. Find out how to tell whether your volunteers and interns are actually employees entitled to compensation.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 @ 1 PM Eastern
You have expansive responsibilities to identify, accommodate, and protect students with disabilities, including those with medical and psychiatric disabilities. Learn from an education law expert what the laws and regulations require of higher education institutions.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 @ 1 PM Eastern
As a Supreme Court Justice once famously said, students and parents don't leave their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. Administrators must be able to deal with controversies involving freedom of speech, religious liberty, right to a public education, due process, and others. This briefing will survey student rights issues and help you devise a Student Code of Conduct that respects these rights while maintaining effective control of the school environment.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 @ 1 PM
If your institution has government research or service contracts, you are subject to OFCCP regulations and are required to maintain a written affirmative action plan that is updated annually. An AAP is also a useful tool for achieving faculty and staff diversity. But it's not an easy hurdle. An attorney will walk you through the process and how to use the results for your own purposes.

No Worries! -- Webinars on CD Option!
What if you have a time conflict and can't participate in a webinar of interest on its scheduled date and time? Don't worry. You can still take advantage of our CD option. Soon after completion of each webinar, the program will be available on CD. Click here for the complete listing and future ordering information.
Education in the Courts
Teacher Calling Out School District's Educational Bias Against Student Had Limited Protection
An obviously conscientious kindergarten teacher recommended one of her students, an African American child referred to as "JK," for an extended-day program available in the school district to children who are performing poorly in literacy-related learning. School district officials declined to admit JK to the program, citing his "resistant behaviors" and the fact that he already knew the alphabet. The teacher believed that the real reason was bias against an African American child in a predominantly white school district, and she reiterated her concern at a district meeting several months later. The day after speaking out, she was denied tenure and was forced to resign at the end of the school year. Is she protected under the employment discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and was her First Amendment right of free speech trampled on?
After the alleged retaliation, the teacher filed a lawsuit in federal district court for the Western District of New York against the Penfield Central School District and its superintendent. She first asserted two claims: (1) that she suffered unlawful retaliation because of her opposition to discrimination in violation of Title VII; and (2) that the school district violated her First Amendment rights when she spoke out about an issue of public concern. She later added a third cause of action: that the school district was receiving federal financial assistance at the time it committed the alleged discriminatory acts, in violation of Title VI.
Under Title VII, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for opposing any practice made unlawful by Title VII. To prove unlawful retaliation, the employee must show that she was engaged in protected activity, the employer was aware of the activity, the employee suffered a materially adverse action, and a causal connection existed between the protected activity and the adverse action. However, the district court pointed out, the courts have repeatedly held that a teacher's complaints about alleged discrimination directed against a student do not constitute opposition to an unlawful employment practice. Because the teacher did not allege unlawful discrimination directed at herself, the district court dismissed the Title VII claim.
As for the First Amendment retaliation claim, to prevail the teacher must prove that she engaged in constitutionally protected free speech because she spoke as a citizen on a matter of public concern, that she suffered an adverse employment action as a result, and that her speech was the motivating factor in the employer's decision to retaliate. Back in 2006, the Supreme Court narrowed the type of speech protected by the First Amendment. Specifically, when public employees make statements as part of their official duties, they are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.
Under this more restrictive interpretation, the teacher would have had to show that she spoke on a matter of public concern and that she was speaking as a citizen and not in regard to her duties as a school employee. The district court concluded that her speech was uttered because of her job as a teacher and in furtherance of her teaching duties. The court also opined that she spoke out, not in a public forum but at a private meeting attended only by district employees. Furthermore, she did not complain about systemic discrimination but only about the treatment of one particular student. Taken altogether, these facts convinced the district court to dismiss the teacher's First Amendment claim.
Finally, on the teacher's charge under Title VI that the school discriminated in a program that received federal funds, the court was more hospitable. The teacher had already amended her claim to allege that she had continuously complained of disparate treatment of African American children by the school district and that she was denied tenure and compelled to resign in retaliation for her advocacy. According to the district court, the fact that the teacher "was not the target of the discrimination does not defeat her claim. The question is simply whether she opposed a practice that she reasonably believed violated Title VI." Citing case law precedent that advocating for the educational rights of students under Title VI is conduct governed by Title VI's anti-retaliation provisions, the district court offered the teacher the opportunity to amend her complaint to assert only a claim under Title VI against the school district.
In all of this, kindergartener JK still did not gain access to the extended-day kindergarten program for low-performing students in which the teacher thought he belonged.
Read the decision and order in Karen Palmer v. Penfield Central School District, District Superintendent John Carlevatti, January 22, 2013
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In This Issue
· Education administration, innovation, and compliance news & issues
·  Staff diversity management program
·  FLSA compensation rules for school volunteers and interns
·  Disability management in higher education
·  Student rights: legal & practical issues
·  Affirmative action plans for colleges & universities
Education in the Courts
·  Teacher alleging bias against student loses job
Here's a Thought
"I believe we must view teacher performance evaluation primarily as a professional growth tool, rather than purely as an accountability mechanism. Don't get me wrong, there will be teachers who will fail to secure tenure or who will be terminated because of issues surfaced through their performance evaluation. But for the overwhelming majority of our teachers, those who are solid performers to truly extraordinary educators, our evaluation system will be about continually improving and enhancing their instruction."
-- Dr. James P. McIntyre, Jr., superintendent, Knox County Schools, Tennessee, testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce's Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education at hearing on measuring teacher performance, February 28, 2013

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