Hot Off The Bench

  • Hot Off the Bench , provided as a benefit exclusively to TASA members, summarizes significant court cases affecting Texas superintendents and schools.  The case summaries are written by David Thompson, professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, The University of Texas at San Antonio; and Fred Hartmeister, professor of Education and Law, Texas Tech University.  The authors would also like to offer special thanks to Rachel H. Thompson of The University of Texas for her assistance with editing.  Below are highlights from past issues:

    March 2016

    • District's Voluntary Cessation of Alleged Unconstitutional Conduct does not Render Cheerleader Religious Banner Case Moot
    • Texas Appellate Court Reverses Indictment of Teacher on Three of Four Counts of Improper Educator-Student Relationship
    • District's Failure to Discuss Child's Bullying at IEP Violates FAPE Requirement, Results in Reimbursement to Parents for Private Placement
    • Spoilation of Evidence Found in Colorado Teacher-Student Sexual Abuse Case
    • Native American Student Denied the Right to Wear an Eagle Feather at Graduation

    December 2015

    • Fifth Circuit Affirms Grant of Summary Judgment to Texas School District in Race Bullying/Discrimination Claim
    • Former Texas Student's Title IX and Section 1983 Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Dismissed for Untimely Filing
    • Constitutionality of Student Search for Stink Bombs Upheld
    • School Resource Officer Use of Freeze +P Spray Leads to Liability Ruling

    October 2015

    • Texas Appellate Court Reverses Jury Conviction of School District Police Officer for Improper Educator-Student Relationship
    • Florida's Value-Added Teacher Evaluation System Survives Due Process, Equal Protection Challenges
    • Fifth Circuit Applies Tinker Standard to Student's Off-campus Online Rap, Upholds School Disciplinary Action
    • Coach's Surreptitiously Recorded Locker Room Comments are Not "Oral Communications" Subject to the State's Wiretap Prohibitions
    • Court Upholds Washington District's Literature Distribution Policy

    June 2015

    • U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Employer Need Not Have Actual Notice of an Applicant's Need for a Religious Accommodation Under Title VII
    • Tinker's "Material and Substantial Interference" Standard Does Not Justify Student's Suspension for Off-campus Electronic Speech
    • School District Did Not Have Actual Notice of Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment
    • Maryland School District Not Deliberately Indifferent to Student-on-Student Sexual Harassment
    • Child Evangelism Fellowship Fails to Establish a "Fee-Waiver Policy" in Viewpoint Discrimination Claim Against Cleveland School, Ohio, School District

    February 2015

    • Fifth Circuit Affirms Denial of Qualified Immunity to University Administrators who Terminated Art Gallery Director for Comments Made about U.S. Representative
    • California District's Failure to Document, Consider, and Provide Parents of Disabled Child with Child's RTI Testing Data Violates IDEA
    • Sixth Circuit Affirms Denial of Qualified Immunity to School Officials in Religiously-based Student-on-Student Bullying under Equal Protection Clause
    • No Bullying-based Culpability Attached to Pennsylvania School District and Various School Officials
    • New Mexico Supreme Court Reverses Alcohol-at-School Delinquency Conviction

    August 2014

    • Fifth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Bullying Case against Texas School District
    • Principal Not Entitled to Qualified Immunity in Student's First Amendment Speech/Retaliation Claim Stemming from 2012 "Day of Silence"
    • Florida District Court Moots Freedom from Religion Foundation's Claim for Future Relief in Materials Distribution Case
    • No Federal Liability after Student Injured during Instructional Enrichment Activity
    • Claims against Texas District and Physical Education Teacher Fail on Jurisdictional Grounds

    June 2014

    • Town Governing Board's Prayer Practice Distinguished from School-Based Prayers and Invocations
    • U.S. Supreme Court Holds Warrant Is Required Prior to Cell Phone Search
    • U.S. Supreme Court Holds the First Amendment Protects Public Employees Who Provide "Truthful Sworn Testimony, Compelled by Subpoena, Outside the Course of … Ordinary Job Responsibilities"
    • In the Latest "Candy-Canes" Decision, Fifth Circuit Panel Affirms Grant of Qualified Immunity to Elementary School Principal Who Forbade Parental Distribution of Religiously-Themed Items at School
    • 5th Circuit Continues to Find No Substantive Due Process Claims in Texas Corporal Punishment Cases

    April 2014

    • Fifth Circuit Resolves Disability-Based Bullying Claim of Student who Committed Suicide in Favor of School District
    • Fifth Circuit Rules in Favor of Mississippi School District, School Officials in Corporal Punishment Case
    • Texas Highest Criminal Court Invalidates Portion of Statute Criminalizing "Online Solicitation of a Minor"
    • Coming Full Circle on the "I <heart> boobies! (KEEP A BREAST) Bracelet Case – An Update
    • Wisconsin Coach's Claims against Parents Survive Motion to Dismiss
    • Settlement Reported in "Outing" Case – An Update

    February 2014

    • Suspended Principal's Report to Chief Academic Officer Regarding Violation of Federal Asbestos Law Insufficient to Invoke Protections of Texas Whistleblower Act
    • State Appellate Court Clarifies Meaning of "Current Condition of Addiction" under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (THCRA)
    • "Good Cause" Termination of Superintendent's Term Contract Survives Due Process, Free Speech, and Other Challenges
    • High School Counselor's Termination Upheld Following Self-Publication of Sexually Explicit Book
    • District Prevails After Oregon Student Suspended for Sexual Harassment

    November 2013

    • Superintendent's You're "Eligible for Retirement" Insufficient Evidence of Direct Discrimination against Terminated 72-year old Bus Driver
    • Principal Not Entitled to Qualified Immunity in Teachers' First Amendment Suit Regarding Principal's Directive that Teacher Inflate Grades
    • Court Declines to Dismiss Various Racial Harassment Claims against District, School Officials
    • Student's Confession in Kentucky Drug Case Suppressed in the Absence of Miranda Warnings
    • Revisiting the "I <heart> boobies! (KEEP A BREAST)" Bracelet Controversy—Variations on a Theme

    August 2013

    • The Courts Keep "Fishing" for Affirmative Action Clarity in the Post-Secondary Admissions Process
    • United States Supreme Court Clarifies Standard for Causation in Title VII Retaliation Cases
    • United States Supreme Court adopts Adopts Narrow Definition of Supervisor in Title VII Workplace Harassment Case
    • Fifth Circuit Rules in Favor of Plano ISD on Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act Claim in Latest Chapter of "Candy Canes" Case
    • Appellate Court Bars Ban on "I <heart> boobies! (KEEP A BREAST)" Bracelets

    June 2013

    • United States Supreme Court Agrees to Review Establishment Clause Invocation Case
    • Texas High School Coaches Entitled to Qualified Immunity after Disclosing Student's Sexual Orientation to Her Mother
    • State Trial Court Rules in Favor of Kountze Cheerleaders; District Appeals
    • School District's Censorship of "Rubber Fetus" Dolls, Prior Review Policy Held Constitutional
    • Head Start Director's Title VII, Due Process, and Whistleblower Claims Unsuccessful

    April 2013

    • Section 504 Disability-Based Peer Sexual Harassment Claim Allowed to Proceed against Texas School District under Theory of Gross Misjudgment
    • Disability-Based Bullying Complaint against Texas School District Dismissed
    • Court Dismisses Race-Based Bullying Complaint against Texas School District
    • School Prevails in Student's Confederate Flag T-Shirt Protest
    • Federal District Court Grants Houston ISD's Motion for Summary Judgment in Drowning Case 

    February 2013

    • Court Denies Student's Request for Injunction in Northside ISD Radio Frequency Identification Badge Case
    • Texas School Districts Cannot Terminate Educators' Probationary Contracts at End of Contract Term for Use of Reasonable Force against Students
    • Negligence Insufficient to Impose Liability under 14th Amendment for Student's Drowning on School-Sponsored Field Trip
    • Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects Use of Church Facility for High School Graduations
    • Fifth Circuit Weighs in on Louisiana's New School Voucher Initiative 

    December 2012

    • Insufficient Notice to Principal Invalidates Sanctions against Certificate
    • Tinker Applies to Students' Off-Campus Internet Speech, with Sufficient Evidence of Disruption to Reinstate 180-Day Suspensions
    • California Sexual Harassment Case Pending before the U.S. Supreme Court
    • Recent Arkansas and Kansas Cases "Bookend" New Texas Penal Code Provision
    • State District Courts Issue Temporary Injunction Enjoining Kountze ISD from Prohibiting High School Cheerleaders' Display of Religiously Themed "Run-Through" Banners, Sets Trial Date

    October 2012

    • Texas School District Not Required to Disclose Certain Police Handbook Information
    • School District, Vice-Principal Granted Summary Judgment in Teacher--to-Student Sexual Harassment Case
    • School District and Officials Receive Summary Judgment in Case of Bullied Student Who Committed Suicide
    • Illinois Schools Owe Duty of Reasonable Care in Completing Employment Verification Forms in Case of Sexual Predator "Passed" to another District
    • Officer's Locked Backpack Search for Weapon Deemed Unconstitutional in Washington

    August 2012

    • U. S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case of Teacher Ordered by School District to Remove Religiously Themed Banners from Classroom
    • Court Upholds Revocation of Teacher's Certificate for Indecent Exposure
    • No Constitutional Duty to Protect Elementary School Student Raped when School Released Student to Unauthorized Person
    • Federal Case of Estate of Student who Committed Suicide after Bullying Incidents Dismissed
    • Title IX Claim Remains Standing in Bullying-Suicide Suit against District
    • Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Case Brought by Disabled Parent Seeking Greater Access to Football Games