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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 &
"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
-- 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