Articles Posted in Education Law

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Plaintiff appealed the trial court's denial of his petition for a writ of administrative mandamus to set aside his expulsion from USC for unauthorized alcohol use, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and rape of another student. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that plaintiff was denied a fair hearing where three central witnesses were not interviewed and thus the Title IX investigator was not able to assess the credibility of these critical witnesses during the interviews. The court also held that USC did not comply with its own procedures to conduct a fair and thorough investigation by failing to request that the student provide her clothes from the morning of the incident and her consent to release her medical records from the rape treatment center. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Doe v. University of Southern California" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are four parents and their children residing throughout California and a California nonprofit corporation, A Voice for Choice, Inc. This case rose constitutional challenges to Senate Bill No. 277, which repealed the personal belief exemption to California’s immunization requirements for children attending public and private educational and child care facilities. Plaintiffs sued claiming Senate Bill No. 277 violated their rights under California’s Constitution to substantive due process, privacy, and a public education. The trial court sustained the defendants’ demurrer to plaintiffs’ complaint without leave to amend and plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, plaintiffs also raised an additional argument that Senate Bill No. 277 violated their constitutional right to free exercise of religion, although they did not allege a separate cause of action on that basis in their complaint. The Court of Appeal found "[p]laintiffs' arguments are strong on hyperbole and scant on authority." Finding no violation of plaintiffs' constitutional rights, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court. View "Love v. California Dept. of Education" on Justia Law

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After Katherine Rosen, a student at the University of California, was severely injured by another student who had been receiving treatment for mental illness, Rosen filed a negligence action against university personnel for failing to take reasonable measures to protect her from the foreseeable violent conduct. On remand from the California Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal denied defendants' petition for writ of mandate, except with respect to defendant Nicole Green. The court held that the standard of care governing a university's duty to protect its students from foreseeable acts of violence is the ordinary reasonable person standard; triable issues of fact exist as to whether defendants breached their duty of care to Rosen; and although Civil Code section 43.92 precludes liability against defendant Nicole Green, the remaining defendants are not statutorily immune from suit. View "The Regents of the University of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County" on Justia Law

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John Doe appealed the superior court's decision denying his petition for writ of administrative mandate to compel UCSB to rescind his suspension after he was found guilty of sexual misconduct in violation of the Student Conduct Code. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that John was denied access to critical evidence; denied the opportunity to adequately cross-examine witnesses; and denied the opportunity to present evidence in his defense. The court held that the accused must be permitted to see the evidence against him and, in this case, John was not permitted access to the complete Sexual Assault Response Team report. This error was prejudicial to John. Furthermore, cumulative errors occurred at the hearing, including the exclusion of John's evidence of the side effects of Viibryd, a prescription antidepressant, that Jane Roe was taking. The court held that neither Jane nor John received a fair hearing where the lack of due process precluded a fair evaluation of the witnesses' credibility. View "Doe v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the superior court's grant of a petition for writ of administrative mandamus by a former USC student and order to vacate USC's decision to discipline him for violating the university's academic integrity standards. The court held that substantial evidence supported USC's decision that Doe cheated. In this case, it was undisputed that Doe and Student B sat next to each other during the final examination in Biology 220; had the same version of the examination although adjacent students were supposed to have different versions; answered 46 of the 50 examination questions identically, a highly anomalous statistical result; and wrote large letter answers in the margins of the examination booklets that would be visible to the students sitting next to them. Accordingly, the court remanded with directions to deny the petition for writ of administrative mandamus. View "Doe v. University of Southern California" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's denial of a petition for a writ of administrative mandate. In this case, plaintiff sought to set aside his one-year suspension and other discipline imposed by CMC after a review committee found that he had nonconsensual sex with a student at a neighboring college. Plaintiff argued that he was deprived of a fair hearing because the student did not appear, and thus he and the committee did not have an opportunity to question her and assess her credibility. The court held that where, as here, a student was facing potentially severe consequences and the committee's decision against him turned on believing the student, the committee's procedures should have included an opportunity for the committee to assess the student's credibility by her appearing at the hearing in person or by videoconference or similar technology, and by the committee's asking her appropriate questions proposed by plaintiff or the committee itself. The court did not reach plaintiff's remaining challenges. View "Doe v. Claremont McKenna College" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Mary Anselmo attended Pierce College, a public community college within the Los Angeles Community College District. In 2016, Anselmo traveled to Grossmont College as a member of the Pierce College Women's Volleyball team to participate in an intercollegiate beach volleyball tournament. The Grossmont College campus and the volleyball courts where the tournament took place were owned, controlled, and maintained by defendant Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District (Grossmont). Anselmo alleged she was injured during one of the tournament games when she dove into the sand and her knee struck a rock in the sand. Anselmo filed a complaint against Grossmont alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, and premises liability. Grossmont relied on several cases in which immunity was granted to school districts that were conducting athletic-related field trips or excursions for their students, but the Court of Appeal determined the facts of those cases were readily distinguishable from the facts here. The Court held field trip immunity under California Code of Regulations section 55220 did not extend to Grossmont as the host of an interscholastic athletic competition for injuries suffered by a player on a visiting team merely because her team traveled to the site of the competition. The trial court therefore erred in sustaining Grossmont's demurrer on this ground. View "Anselmo v. Grossmont-Cuyamaca Com. College Dist." on Justia Law

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After Jerald Glaviano interceded in a confrontation between two of his students, the Sacramento City Unified School District (the District) placed him on unpaid leave and issued an accusation and a notice of intent to dismiss or suspend him without pay. The Commission on Professional Competence (Commission) dismissed the accusation and ordered the District to reinstate Glaviano to his former position with back pay and benefits. Education Code section 449441 provided that if the Commission determines an employee should not be dismissed or suspended, the governing board of the school district shall pay “reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the employee.” Glaviano requested fees based on the prevailing hourly rate for similar work in the community, but the trial court concluded the fee award must be based on the reduced hourly rate Glaviano’s counsel actually charged. The issue presented on appeal was whether the phrase “reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the employee” in section 44944 necessarily limited a fee award to fees actually charged. The Court of Appeal concluded it did not. The Court found the lodestar method appropriate: reasonable hours spent, multiplied by the prevailing hourly rate for similar work in the community. View "Glaviano v. Sacramento City Unified School District" on Justia Law

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The Legislature exempted a government claim to a local public entity on a childhood sexual abuse action from the claim presentation requirement of the Government Claims Act, but permitted local public entities to impose their own claim presentation requirements. The Court of Appeal granted a writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its order overruling petitioners' demurrers to Jane Doe's first amended complaint, and to enter a new order sustaining their demurrers. The demurrers were based on Doe's failure to present a government claim to petitioner school district before commencing her judicial action against petitioners. In this case, Doe failed to allege timely compliance with the district's claim presentation requirement, or an excuse for failure to comply. Therefore, the court held that petitioners' demurrers to the first amended complaint should have been sustained. View "Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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The school’s principal recommended that M.N., a seventh grader, be expelled, based upon allegations that M.N. had committed sexual assault or sexual battery upon a 13-year-old female student on multiple occasions while the two rode a school bus. The district's administrative panel conducted a hearing and recommended expulsion, finding that M.N. had committed or attempted to commit sexual assault or committed sexual battery, and also committed sexual harassment. Unsuccessful with the District’s Governing Board and the Santa Clara County Board of Education, M.N. filed sought mandamus relief. The superior court concluded there was substantial evidence to support the finding that M.N. had committed sexual battery so that the District was required by statute to expel him for one year. The court remanded for consideration of whether the evidence justified the exercise of statutory discretion to suspend expulsion. M.N. argued that the sexual battery finding was unsupported by any competent evidence of the element of specific intent, i.e., that M.N.’s unwanted touching was “for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse” (Pen. Code, 243.4(e)(1)) and that evidence of such specific intent was entirely hearsay. The court of appeal affirmed, concluding that there was substantial evidence—including competent, admissible, nonhearsay evidence—to support the finding of sexual battery. View "M.N. v. Morgan Hill Unified School District" on Justia Law