About Education Law
One government function is education, which is administered through the public school system by the department of education. The states, therefore, have primary responsibility for the maintenance and operation of public schools. The Federal Government also has an interest in education. The National Institute of Education was created to improve education in the United States.
Each state is required by its state constitution to provide a school system whereby children may receive an education. State legislatures exercise power over schools in any manner consistent with the state's constitution. Many state legislatures delegate power over the school system to a state board of education.
There is a strong concern with equality in education. Within states this leads to efforts to assure that each child no matter where he or she is situated receives an adequate education.
Extended school year (ESY) is designed to provide a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities who experience significant regression of critical life skills because of an interruption in the instructional program.
Under the Equal Education Opportunities Act (EEOA), a state is prohibited from denying equal educational opportunities to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.
Student Searches & Student Drug Testing - In the school context, the legality of a search depends simply on the reasonableness, under all the circumstances, of the search. A search of a student is reasonable if it was justified at its inception, and its scope is reasonably related to its objectives. In-school searches are usually based upon some level of individualized suspicion; probable cause, however, is not a necessary predicate for an in-school search. Strict adherence to the requirement that searches be based on probable cause would undercut the substantial need of teachers and administrators for freedom to maintain order in the schools.
Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) - The IDEA was enacted to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living. To achieve this purpose, the federal government provides funds to the states and local agencies to implement IDEA, on the condition that such states and local agencies comply with its requirements, both substantive and procedural. The Supreme Court, however, has held that under IDEA, Congress intended to provide a satisfactory level of educational opportunity, not the best education that money could buy.
The primary substantive guarantee of IDEA is the provision of a free appropriate, ("meaningful") public education, or FAPE, to children with disabilities. States and local agencies provide FAPE by designing and implementing IEPs for disabled children. The IDEA also contains several procedural guarantees. If the parents of a disabled child disagree with the IEP proposed by the state or local authority, they may convene an impartial due process hearing to resolve their complaints. If any of the parties to the due process hearing are aggrieved by the result of that hearing, the IDEA authorizes the institution of a civil action in federal court to challenge the findings and decision made in the hearing.
In addition to IDEA's requirement that the state provide each student with some educational benefit, the student must be placed in the least restrictive environment to achieve the FAPE. The disabled child is to participate in the same activities as non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.
Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) - This is a right guaranteed by law - all children are guaranteed to a Free and Appropriate Public Education. In some cases, a private school is more suitable to a student. A school district is not responsible for the cost of a unilateral parental placement at a private institution, however, unless the program is necessary to fulfill the student's right to a free appropriate public education and public placement is inadequate.
Under The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), states must improve the quality of their schools from year to year. NCLB is based on the goal that all children will be proficient in reading and math by 2014. The percentage of students proficient in reading and math must grow until the schools reach 100 percent proficiency. States must individually help high-poverty schools meet the same academic standards as non high-poverty schools.
States have to set their own standards in reading, writing, math, history, and science for students in each grade level. States must then create tests that are aligned with the standards they have created and are expected to meet those standards - this is called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Test results must be divided up into several categories, including minority groups, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged, and students that have limited English proficiency. Ninety-five percent of the students in every subgroup must be included in the tests.
After a third year, schools must offer supplemental services, such as tutoring. Schools that do not show adequate progress after five years may be forced to take tough corrective action, such as replacing school personnel or extending the school year. The accountability standards, however, only apply to Title I schools.
Education Law and the First Amendment - A school need not tolerate student speech that is inconsistent with its basic educational mission, even though the government could not censor similar speech outside the school. Because most public school students are minors and school administrators have the duty to provide and facilitate education and to maintain order and discipline, the Supreme Court has emphasized the need for affirming the comprehensive authority of the States and of school officials, consistent with fundamental constitutional safeguards, to prescribe and control conduct in the schools. While a public school student does not shed his or her constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate, those rights may be limited as long as the limitation is consistent with constitutional safeguards.
Speech in school can be banned if it is lewd, vulgar, indecent, or plainly offensive. Furthermore, educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate academic concerns.
Lastly, home schooling is an option for some families. Home schooling is legal in all fifty states, but it requires a large time commitment on the part of the family. In some states parents need to register their intent to home school with the department of education or the local district school board. In addition, many states require yearly proof of progress. States do not provide many services to home schools, though some allow students to attend public school classes and to participate in public school activities.
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