Articles Posted in Education Law

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A district elementary school principal interpreted an educational policy to mean that elementary school teachers were expected to be present in their classrooms ten minutes before the start of the instructional day. The Coastal Education Association, an affiliate of a union representing teachers, filed a grievance with Regional School District Unit No. 5 (RSU No. 5) challenging the principal’s interpretation as a violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Association and the Board of Directors of RSU No. 5. An arbitrator concluded that the principal’s directive violated the CBA and directed RSU No. 5 to rescind the educational policy. RSU No. 5 filed an application to vacate the arbitration award. The superior court granted the application, concluding that the dispute was not substantively arbitrable pursuant to the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations Law, which prevents school boards from bargaining on matters of educational policy or submitting educational policy disputes to interest arbitration. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in concluding that the educational policy at issue in this case was, as a matter of law, not substantively arbitrable. View "Reg’l Sch. Unit No. 5 v. Coastal Educ. Ass’n" on Justia Law

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A district elementary school principal interpreted an educational policy to mean that elementary school teachers were expected to be present in their classrooms ten minutes before the start of the instructional day. The Coastal Education Association, an affiliate of a union representing teachers, filed a grievance with Regional School District Unit No. 5 (RSU No. 5) challenging the principal’s interpretation as a violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Association and the Board of Directors of RSU No. 5. An arbitrator concluded that the principal’s directive violated the CBA and directed RSU No. 5 to rescind the educational policy. RSU No. 5 filed an application to vacate the arbitration award. The superior court granted the application, concluding that the dispute was not substantively arbitrable pursuant to the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations Law, which prevents school boards from bargaining on matters of educational policy or submitting educational policy disputes to interest arbitration. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in concluding that the educational policy at issue in this case was, as a matter of law, not substantively arbitrable. View "Reg’l Sch. Unit No. 5 v. Coastal Educ. Ass’n" on Justia Law

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Michael Doyle submitted to the Town of Falmouth a request pursuant to the Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) seeking to inspect certain cellular telephone bills of the School Department’s former Superintendent. The former Superintendent provided the requested records but redacted the information she considered nonpublic and confidential, exempt from disclosure pursuant to the FOAA, or beyond the scope of Doyle’s request. Doyle appealed, alleging that he was entitled to received unredacted copies of the cellular telephone records. After an in camera review of the unredacted records, the superior court entered judgment in favor of the Town and School Department. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the personal telephone numbers of public employees, any information concerning calls other than those related to the Town’s business, and any records containing information about parents’ and students’ telephone numbers were properly redacted from the Town’s response to the FOAA request. View "Doyle v. Town of Falmouth" on Justia Law

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John and Jane Doe, the parents Susan Doe, a transgender girl, filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging that Regional School Unit 26 (RSU 26) had violated the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) by excluding Susan from the communal girls’ bathroom at elementary and middle school. The Commission found reasonable grounds to believe discrimination had occurred. Thereafter, the Does and the Commission filed a complaint in the superior court asserting claims for unlawful discrimination in education (Count I) and unlawful discrimination in a place of public accommodation (Count II) on the basis of sexual orientation. The superior court granted RSU 26’s motion for summary judgment on all counts. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that where it has been clearly established that a student’s psychological well-being and educational success depend on being permitted to use the communal bathroom consistent with her gender identity, denying the student access to the appropriate bathroom constitutes sexual orientation discrimination in violation of the MHRA. Remanded for entry of summary judgment for the Does and the Commission. View "Doe v. Reg'l Sch. Unit 26" on Justia Law

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D.S., who had several disabilities and disorders, was admitted to the Spurwink School for the provision of "necessary emotional, psychological and other therapeutic services and education." In 2004, D.S., then sixteen years old, arrived at school. An educational technician came outside when D.S. arrived, but D.S. shortly thereafter left the property on foot. D.S. was not located, and D.S. later alleged that, after leaving the school property, she was sexually assaulted by two strangers. In 2010, D.S.'s mother, on behalf of D.S., filed a five-count complaint against Spurwink Services. Spurwink Services moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that the case was governed by the Maine Health Security Act (MHSA) and D.S. failed to comply with the requirements of the MHSA. The superior court entered summary judgment in favor of Spurwink Services, finding that it lacked jurisdiction over D.S.'s claims pursuant to the MHSA. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded, holding that the provisions of MHSA did not apply in this case, as D.S.'s action did not constitute an "action for professional negligence" as defined by the MHSA. View "D.S. v. Spurwink Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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While away for a competition in a school-supported event, students caused damage to a motel where they were lodging. The motel's property insurer paid to repair the damage then exercised its right of subrogation pursuant to its insurance contract with the motel to seek to recover compensation for those responsible for the loss. The insurer filed a complaint against the school district, alleging it was liable for breach of contract based on its failure to protect and safeguard the property from damage during the period of occupancy and to refrain from activities that would damage the property. The superior court granted the school district's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the school district did not undertake to be responsible to pay damages in a subrogation action, the insurer's action against the school board was barred. View "Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co. v. Me. Sch. Admin. Dist." on Justia Law