Education

Tressler attorneys have been selected to speak at the 2023 IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference. Join John O’DriscollAndrew PaineDarcy ProctorElizabeth WagmanKathleen GibbonsJames HessMarlene Fuentes, Drew O’Donnell and Courtney Willits at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on January 26-28, 2023. Please click here to register. We hope to see you there!

When: January 26-28, 2023

Where: Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 East Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL, 60601

Conference Website: http://www.ilparksconference.com/

Presentations:

Public Meeting Best Practices: Dealing with Engaged, Passionate, and Sometimes Unruly Members of the Public

  • Session: 130
  • Date: 1/27/23
  • Time:


Continue Reading 2023 IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference

Over the past year and a half, school districts have been inundated with high numbers of due process complaints and mediation requests. Looking back, it appears that as the wave of COVID-19 cases finally began to slow, the number of due process complaints and mediation requests increased drastically. As we head into 2023, we want to reflect on recent trends in due process litigation to help prepare for the year ahead.

The pattern of increased litigiousness is likely the culmination of increased frustrations with the effects that remote learning and COVID-19 had on students. Parents are frustrated that they are
Continue Reading Trends in Due Process Litigation

School districts often have gender-based dress codes, outlining specific requirements for students such as mandating a particular skirt length for female students or prohibiting muscle shirts for male students. In late 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on school dress codes that made multiple findings regarding the disproportionate impact of dress codes on girls and minorities.

GAO estimated that of the 93% of school districts with some kind of dress code or policy, more than 90% of them have rules that prohibit clothing worn by female students. Included in the GAO’s report’s recommendations was a directive
Continue Reading The Intersection of School Dress Code Policies and Title IX

On August 9, 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Public Act 101-0221, also known as the Workplace Transparency Act, creating new protections for employees and contractors and rules for employers regarding sexual harassment. Most public entities are aware that the Act requires all employers in Illinois to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. However, a reminder is necessary that it also requires that public entities report all adverse judgments and administrative rulings against it from the preceding calendar year to the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Adverse judgments and administrative rulings are any final and non-appealable judgments issued
Continue Reading Workplace Transparency Act Reporting Mandate for Illinois Employers

On November 17, 2022, a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida entered a temporary injunction against portions of Florida’s Individual Freedom Act that restricts how Florida’s public college and university professors present their curriculum and what students can and cannot learn in the classroom. The temporary injunction does not apply to Florida’s K-12 public school teachers.

Background

In December 2021, Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, announced a legislative proposal, which he deemed the “Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E. Act), to “fight back against woke indoctrination.” In early 2022, the Florida
Continue Reading Florida Judge Pauses Enforcement of Florida’s Individual Freedom Act

In Moran v. Calumet City, 2022 WL 17173891, (7th Cir. 2022), the court provided further insight as to whether fabricated evidence influenced a jury’s guilty verdict. There, a jury convicted Moran of attempted murder with a firearm but was later acquitted when exculpatory evidence, including a ballistics report linking the firearm to a different shooter, had not been turned over to the defense before trial. Moran filed suit seeking redress for a decade spent behind bars alleging that two detectives fabricated a police report and gave false testimony during his trial that led to his criminal conviction.

Under Seventh Circuit
Continue Reading What’s Material in a Fabrication of Evidence Claim?

On October 31, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS” or “the Court”) heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the race-conscious student admissions policies used by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (“UNC”) to promote diverse school enrollments. The final decision in this case likely will be released at the end of the current term—in late June or early July 2023. It could have important implications not only for colleges and universities but also for public school districts.

Background

The case began in 2014, when Student For Fair Admissions (“SFFA”), a nonprofit advocacy organization opposed
Continue Reading Affirmative Action: The Possible K-12 Impacts of the Supreme Court Cases Involving Harvard and UNC

In Ziccarelli v. Dart, 35 F. 4th 1079 (7th Cir. 2022), the Court of Appeals held that employers may violate the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) by simply discouraging employees from exercising their rights under the FMLA without actually denying a leave request. On October 12, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision leaving the 7th Circuit ruling intact.

The Ziccarelli case involved FMLA claims brought by a corrections officer who had developed several serious health conditions over his long career with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Due to these conditions, the employee had taken intermittent
Continue Reading Denial of FMLA Benefits is Not Required to Prove FMLA Interference Claim

In July 2022, two federal district courts on opposite sides of the country issued opinions that have the potential to have a major impact on non-profits and schools not accepting federal funding throughout the country.

Case Law Background

The first case was before the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Buettner-Hartsoe v. Baltimore Lutheran High School Association d/b/a Concordia Preparatory School) and involved several former students who sued Concordia Preparatory School, a private school, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”). The former students alleged that the school failed to adequately address complaints of
Continue Reading Title IX’s Reach May Expand: Application to Non-Profits and Schools Not Accepting Federal Funding

The Biden Administration has recently taken steps through agency guidance, rulemaking and decision-making to highlight protections for students and employees with pregnancy-related conditions, including abortion, under the umbrella of Title IX. Against the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization this past June overturning the 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion, these recent actions by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) provide reminders to educational institutions that Title IX continues to guarantee certain protections under federal law for students and employees based on
Continue Reading Title IX Protections for Pregnancy after Overturning of Roe v. Wade

A recent ruling of the Illinois First District Appellate Court affirmed the Melrose Park Board of Fire and Police Commissioners’ decision to fire a Melrose Park Police Officer following a string of alleged misconduct.

In Scatchell v. Board of Fire & Police Commissioners for the Village of Melrose Park et al, (2022 Ill App (1st) 201361 a (now former) Melrose Park police officer, John Scatchell, brought a suit contesting his firing. In late 2017, Scatchell took paid leave to recover from an injury he suffered while on duty. During his leave, the police department learned that Scatchell was allegedly out
Continue Reading Appellate Court Upholds Firing of Police Officer Following Issuance of Garrity Warning

Transgender legal issues can be tricky for local government bodies. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled for a Muslim inmate who claimed that his religious rights were violated by strip searches conducted by a transgender prison guard. West v. Radtke, 20-1570 (Sept 16, 2022).

Rufus West, an inmate at the Green Bay Correctional Institution asserted that strip searches by prison guards who were female at birth conflict with his religious faith, which bars him from exposing his body to a woman other than his wife. West sued after a prison guard, who is a transgender man, participated in a
Continue Reading Strip Search By Transgender Guard Violated Inmate’s Religious Rights

In June, Governor Pritzker signed The Decennial Committees on Local Government Efficiency Act into law (Public Act 102-1088). This new law applies to any unit of local government that levies taxes, with the specific exception of municipalities and counties. This broad sweeping law requires units of government to form a specialized committee by June 2023 for the purpose of studying the efficiencies of local government. These committees must meet at least three times, comply with the Open Meetings Act and requires an opportunity for public feedback at the conclusion of each meeting. The scope and breadth of their
Continue Reading New Law to Promote Local Government Efficiency

A recent ruling of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the City of Indianapolis’ motion to vacate a $1.24 million jury verdict against the City following a bar fight involving two off-duty police officers.

In Bohanon v. City of Indianapolis, No. 20-3125 (7th Cir. 2002), two off-duty police officers were drinking in a pub when they noticed another patron, Bradford Bohanon, get into an argument with the bartender. When the two officers intervened, a fight ensued and Bohanon was brutally beaten by the two officers in the parking lot. Bohanon sued the City of Indianapolis under 42 U.S.C.
Continue Reading Court Rules City Not Liable for Off-Duty Officers’ Actions Following Bar Fight

Tressler is proud to welcome Charles “Chuck” LeMoine to our General Defense and Litigation Practice Group. Chuck is known for litigating a wide range of civil matters and is a fierce advocate in the courtroom and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) venues. Chuck’s commercial litigation practice focuses on professional liability, insurance coverage, product liability, construction and contractor disputes, class and collective actions and business torts. He also has a depth of experience defending school districts, counties and municipalities. Chuck has appeared in state and federal courts on behalf of clients in claims arising from student fights, school bus accidents, sexual abuse, discrimination,
Continue Reading Charles LeMoine Joins Tressler’s General Defense and Litigation Practice Group

On July 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released its revised Case Processing Manual (CPM), which was last updated in August 2020. The CPM outlines the procedures OCR uses to investigate and resolve complaints under the civil rights laws it enforces, including Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The revised manual contains several noteworthy changes schools and colleges should be aware of, including the following highlighted below. 

Definition of “complaint” 

  • Defines “complaint” as “a written statement to the Department [of Education] alleging that


Continue Reading OCR Releases Revised Case Processing Manual with New Updates to Complaint Process