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Joseph F. Rice School of Law

Recent Decisions in Education Law (February-April 2021)

Posted on: August 24, 2021
By Journal of Law and Education Staff,
University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law,

Arguments Heard & Interim Order Granted


DOCKET NO: 20-520
NAME:  Am. Athletic Conf. v. Alston
ARGUMENT DATE: 3/31/2021

CASE BELOW: 958 F.3d 1239 (9th Cir. 2020)

On 3/19/2021, the court granted the motion of the Acting Solicitor General for leave to participate in oral arguments amicus curiae and the motion for divided argument.  Oral arguments were heard on 3/31.

Review Denied


Decisions without published opinion in lower court


DOCKET NO: 20-1041
NAME: Soria v. N.Y.C. Dept. of Educ.
DATE DENIED: 3/01/2021

CITATION: 89 U.S.L.W. 3290

Parents of child with disabilities brought suit seeking private school tuition.  During the 2017-2018 school year, G.S. attended the International Academy of Hope.  The Sorias sued for reimbursement of tuition.  A hearing officer found that this school was an appropriate placement and ordered the city to reimburse tuition.  For the 2018-2019 school year, the Sorias decided they were not happy with G.S.’s current school and moved G.S. to another private school and sued for up-front funding of tuition at the new school.  A hearing officer denied the claim citing the fact that the Sorias had unilaterally made the decision to move G.S. from one school to another. On review, the hearing officer’s decision was upheld.  The Sorias appealed the decision to district court.  The district court overturned the hearing officer’s decision.  The Department of Education appealed. 

Held:  For the Department of Education.  The court determined “a parent cannot unilaterally transfer his or her child and subsequently initiate an IEP dispute to argue that the new school's services must be funded on a pendency basis” Soria v. N.Y.C. Dept. of Edu., 831 Fed. App’x. 16 (2d Cir. 2020), cert. denied, – U.S. --, 89 U.S.L.W. 3290 (2021).


Decisions with published opinion in lower court


DOCKET NO: 20-1083
NAME: Rossley v. Drake Univ.
DATE DENIED: 3/22/2021
CITATION: 89 U.S.L.W. 3312

Student sued claiming university violated Title IX and Americans with Disabilities Act during investigation into sexual assault claims and disciplinary proceedings.  On October 15, 2015, a female student at Drake University contacted public safety to report that Rossley had sexually assaulted her while she was passed out after drinking too much alcohol.  After an investigation and hearing Rossley was expelled.  Rossley then filed suit in federal district court claiming that his expulsion was due to gender bias and that the university failed to grant him accommodations due to his disability during the investigation and hearing.  The district court granted the university’s motion for summary judgement.   Rossley appealed. 

Held: For the University.  The court found that Rossley did not introduce sufficient evidence to show that the university demonstrated gender bias during the investigation and hearing.  On the claim of failure to provide accommodations, the court noted that Rossley did not request accommodations during the investigation and hearing and thus the university was under no obligation to provide accommodations.  Rossley v. Drake Univ., 979 F.3d 1184 (8th Cir. 2020), cert denied, -- U.S. --, 89 U.S.L.W. 3312 (2021).


DOCKET NO: 20-1058
NAME: Bd. of Med. Exam’rs v. Ramsay
DATE DENIED: 3/08/2021

CITATION: 89 U.S.L.W. 3299

Medical student with dyslexia and ADHD brought suit under Americans with Disabilities Act seeking preliminary injunction after Board of Medical Examiners denied request for accommodations during medical licensing exam. During her third year of medical school, Ramsay requested accommodations on steps one and two of the medical licensing exam. The Board of Medical Examiners denied her request.  Ramsay took step one of the exam without accommodations and failed by one point.  As she was required to pass step one of the exams before entering her fourth year, she was forced to take a leave of absence from medical school. Ramsay sought reconsideration of the board’s decision to deny accommodations.  The board again denied her request.  Ramsay brought suit in district court seeking a preliminary injunction requiring the medical board to allow her to retake the exam with accommodations.  The district court found that the Board of Medical Examiners had violated Ramsay’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and issued a preliminary injunction requiring the board to allow Ramsay to re-sit for the exam with accommodations.  The board appealed. 

Held:  For Ramsay. The court found that Ramsay faced irreparable harm should the injunction not be upheld and that the balance of equities and the public interest favored issuance of the injunction.  Bd. of Med. Exam’rs v. Ramsay, 968 F.3d 251 (3d Cir. 2020), cert denied, -- U.S. --, 89 U.S.L.W. 3299 (2021).


DOCKET NO: 20-901
NAME: Spring Branch Indep. Sch. Dist. v. O. W.
DATE DENIED: 02/22/2021

CITATION: 89 U.S.L.W. 3278
Decision Below: 961 F.3d 781 (5th Cir. 2020)

School district filed suit challenging decision of administrative hearing officer which found that district failed to provide free appropriate public education to child with disabilities and ordered district to reimburse parents for private school tuition.  O.W. was identified as a potential special needs child on Sept. 15, 2014, but was not referred for a special education evaluation until January 15th.  After the evaluation, the school district created an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  In addition to the behavior modification techniques specified in O.W.’s IEP, O.W.’s teachers frequently used time-outs and physical restraints on O.W. and even called the police on several occasions.  In May of 2015, the school faculty and O.W.’s mother agreed that O.W.’s school day would be shortened.  First, O.W.’s day was shortened by an hour and a half, then it was further shortened to three hours.  Ultimately, O.W. was removed from school three days before the end of the school year.  O.W.’s parents enrolled him in a private school for the following school year and filed an administrative complaint seeking reimbursement of tuition.  A hearing officer found that the school district deprived O.W. of a free appropriate public education and awarded tuition for both the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years.  The school district appealed the finding to district court.  The district court granted O.W.’s parents’ motion for summary judgement and affirmed the hearing officer’s decision in full.  The school district appealed. 

Held:  Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded.  The court of appeals agreed with the district court that the delay in referring O.W. for a special education evaluation was unreasonable.  The court of appeals also agreed with the district court that the use of time outs represented a failure of the school district to properly implement O.W’s IEP.  However, the court found that the use of physical restraints and calling for police assistance were necessary to protect other students and staff members.  Finally, the court of appeals found that the initial shortening of O.W.’s school day was allowed under his IEP, but the second reduction of his school day significantly reduced O.W.’s academic benefits and violated his IEP.  The court agreed with the award of tuition for the 2016-2017 year but found the award for the 2015-2016 year to be in error and remanded the case to the district court for more findings regarding the 2015-2016 tuition award.  Spring Branch Indep. Sch. Dist. v. O. W., 961 F.3d 781 (5th Cir. 2020), cert. denied, -- U.S. --, 89 U.S.L.W. 3278 (2021).

Newly Filed Cases

NOTE: Cases filed AND decided since the prior issue are excluded from this section.


DOCKET NO: 20-1416
NAME:  Neske v. N.Y.C. Dept. of Educ.
DATE FILED: 04/05/2021

CITATION: 89 U.S.L.W. 3348
CASE BELOW:  824 Fed. Appx. 81 (2d Cir. 2020)


DOCKET NO: 20-1377
NAME:  William V. v. Copperas Cove Indep. Sch. Dist.
DATE FILED: 03/29/2021

CITATION: 89 U.S.L.W. 3340
CASE BELOW:  826 Fed. Appx. 374 (5th Cir. 2020)


DOCKET NO: 20-1163
NAME:  Gloucester Cty. Sch. Bd. v. Grimm
DATE FILED: 02/19/2021

CITATION: 89 U.S.L.W. 3293
CASE BELOW:  972 F.3d 586 (4th Cir. 2020)


DOCKET NO: 20-1088
NAME:  Carson v. Makin
DATE FILED: 02/04/2021

CITATION: 89 U.S.L.W. 3271
CASE BELOW:  979 F.3d 21 (1st Cir. 2020)


This review reports all Supreme Court activity in the area of education law from Feb. 1, 2021 through Apr. 31, 2021.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.