Articles Posted in Education Law

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In July 2015, the Delaware Joint Vocational School District Board of Education passed a resolution to submit a renewal levy to voters at the general election. On November 20, 2015, the Delaware County Board of Elections purported to certify the election result. The county auditor then delivered the abstract of tax rates to the tax commissioner to apply the reduction factors and calculate the tax rate for the school district. When the county auditor discovered that the Board of Elections had not certified the results of the levy using Form 5-U, however, the tax commissioner excluded the levy on the list of tax rates certified for collection to the county auditors in counties with territory in the school district, and the levy was not included on the property tax bills sent to property owners for the first half of tax year 2016. The school board brought this action in mandamus to compel the tax commissioner to apply the reduction factors and calculate the tax rates for the levy. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that because no proper certification of the multicounty election was presented to the tax commissioner demonstrating that the tax was authorized to be levied, the commissioner did not have a clear legal duty to apply reduction factors and calculate tax rates for this levy. View "State ex rel. Delaware Joint Vocational School District Board of Education v. Testa" on Justia Law

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School Choice Ohio, Inc., a private nonprofit corporation that informs parents about educational opportunities for their children, sent a public-records request to Springfield City School District seeking information regarding students enrolled in the school in the district during the 2013-2014 academic year. Springfield denied the request based on a student-information policy it had adopted that required parental written consent before Springfield would release certain student information. School Choice filed a complaint seeking a writ of mandamus compelling Springfield to produce the requested information and to amend Springfield’s student-information policy. The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part the complaint and ordered Springfield to provide the requested records that pertain to students whose parents had signed Springfield’s consent form and that fell within the categories of personally identifiable information identified in Springfield’s consent form, holding (1) School Choice had a clear legal right to access the personally identifiable information of Springfield’s students whose parents had consented to the release of the information; and (2) School Choice failed to establish a clear legal right to compel Springfield to amend its student-information policy. View "State ex rel. Sch. Choice Ohio, Inc. v. Cincinnati Pub. Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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Several school districts filed complaints seeking reimbursement for retroactive reductions in school foundation funding. The State Board of Education of Ohio (the department) moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that it was insulated from liability. The trial court held that the General Assembly did not have the constitutional authority to adjust local school funding retrospectively. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the General Assembly had constitutional authority to retroactively reduce the amount of state funding allocated to local school districts and to immunize the department against the school districts’ legal claims. Remanded. View "Toledo City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. State Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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David Quolke, the president of the Cleveland Teacher’s Union, requested from the Strongsville City School District Board of Education the names and identification numbers of all teachers and replacement teachers employed by the Board during a teachers’ strike. The Board claimed that many of the records were not subject to disclosure, asserting that the names of the replacement teachers were not considered public record because of the threat of harm to those teachers. Quolke sued in mandamus in the court of appeals for the records. The court of appeals found for Quolke and ordered the Board to produce the names. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, while there may have been a genuine threat to the replacement teachers’ well-being during the strike, the Board presented little evidence that there was any remaining threat to the teachers now that the strike was over. View "State ex rel. Quolke v. Strongsville City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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The Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education terminated Appellant for insubordination for refusing to remove religious displays in his classroom and injecting his personal religious beliefs into his pattern of instruction, all after being forbidden to do so. The trial court found that clear and convincing evidence in the record supported Appellant's termination for insubordination in failing to comply with the district's orders to remove religious materials from his classroom. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court held that the lower courts did not err in affirming the termination, as there was ample evidence of insubordination to justify the termination decision. View "Freshwater v. Mount Vernon City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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Relators in this case were instructors who were hired to instruct students in the Jefferson County's virtual learning academy (VLA), a cyber school for grades K-12. In 2008, the State Teachers Retirement Board of Ohio (STRS) determined that the VLA instructors were independent contractors instead of employees and refunded all contributions made by Jefferson County Educational Service Center Governing Board (Jefferson County ESC) on the VLA instructors' behalf. Relators sought writs of mandamus to compel the STRS to accept employer and employee contributions to its retirement fund and to compel the Jefferson County ESC to make employer contributions to the retirement system on their behalf. The court of appeals denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Relators failed to establish that the STRS abused its discretion in determining that they were not "teachers" within the meaning of Ohio Rev. Code 3307.01(B)(5) because the instructors were independent contractors, and not employees, of the Jefferson County ESC. View "State ex rel. Nese v. State Teachers Ret. Bd. of Ohio" on Justia Law

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This case was a public-records action in which relator, ESPN, Inc., sought certain records from respondent, Ohio State University. Ohio State rejected ESPN's requests because the university deemed them to be "overly broad per Ohio's public record laws." EPSN then filed this action for a writ of mandamus to compel Ohio State to provide access to the requested records. The Supreme Court (1) granted the writ for limited records that should have been disclosed because they were not exempt from disclosure based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); but (2) denied the writ for the rest of the records because Ohio State established that FERPA and the attorney-client privilege prohibited the disclosure of the requested records. View "State ex rel. ESPN, Inc. v. Ohio State Univ." on Justia Law

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Appellant, inmate Sidney Souffrance, petitioned the court of appeals for a writ of mandamus to compel Appellee, the records custodian for the Life Skills Center of Cincinnati, a community school, to provide access to the attendance records, addresses, and telephone numbers of all students who were in a certain classroom during two specific months and to records indicating which computer terminal a specific student had used during one of those months. The court of appeals held that the disclosure of the requested records was barred by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that although the record request related to persons who were no longer students, because the persons were students when the records were created and originally maintained, the records were subject to the nondisclosure provisions of FERPA. View "State ex rel. Souffrance v. Doe" on Justia Law

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After she was told in advance that her contract for employment would not be renewed, Stacey Carna, the principal of an elementary school, requested a meeting with the school board to discuss the nonrenewal of her contract. Without meeting with Carna, the board voted not to renew Carna's contract. The common pleas court denied Carna's subsequent request for mandamus relief, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that after an administrator has been informed that her contract will not be renewed, upon the administrator's request for a meeting with the school board to discuss the nonrenewal of her contract, Ohio Rev. Code 3319.02(D)(4) requires the board to meet in executive session with the administrator to discuss the reasons for nonrenewal. Remanded. View "State ex rel. Carna v. Teays Valley Local Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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In an underlying civil case, Appellant filed a notice of dismissal, voluntarily dismissing the case without prejudice. Minutes later, a deputy clerk responsible for processing the queue of electronically transmitted documents clicked on the court of common pleas judge's journal entry granting summary judgment in favor of the respondents, which had been transmitted earlier that day. The judge subsequently struck Appellant's notice of dismissal and held that the summary judgment was the final judgment on the merits of the case. Appellant requested a writ of prohibition and a writ of mandamus, which the court of appeals denied. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the court of appeals erred in denying Appellant's request for (1) a writ of prohibition to prevent the judge from proceeding on the merits of the underlying case where the judge lacked jurisdiction because, pursuant to Ohio R. Civ. P. 58(A), the entry of summary judgment was not effective until after Appellant's notice of dismissal; and (2) a writ of mandamus to compel the judge to vacate her entry striking the notice of dismissal and her entry of summary judgment in the underlying case and to compel the judge to reinstate her notice of dismissal. View "State ex rel. Engelhart v. Russo" on Justia Law