On October 7, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in R.F. v. Cecil County Public Schools, 919 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2019). In this case, the parents of a special education student attending Cecil County Public Schools (CCPS) asserted a claim under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act alleging a failure to provide a free appropriate public education as required by the Act. The parents requested public funding of a private educational placement which would cost approximately $60,000 per year. In addition, the parents sought to recover their legal fees which exceed $500,000.00. CCPS prevailed at the administrative hearing in this matter, on petition for judicial review in U.S. District Court, and on appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The parents then petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the matter, and CCPS determined to submit briefing in opposition to the petition – which ultimately carried the day.
On October 15, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Wood v. Arnold, et al., 915 F.3d 308 (4th Cir. 2019). In this case, a student and her parents, represented by the Thomas More Law Center filed suit against the Board of Education of Charles County, the Principal of La Plata High School (Ms. Arnold) and the Assistant Principal (Ms. Morris) asserting claims for violation of the Establishment Clause and Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Article 36 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. In short, Plaintiffs alleged that the Board’s World History curriculum endorsed Islam, that the Defendants forced Caleigh Wood to profess faith in Islam (it did not), and that the Defendants retaliated against Mr. Wood for his online speech opposing the aforementioned offenses by issuing him a “no trespass” letter banning him from the grounds of La Plata High School after he made what could reasonably be viewed as threatening remarks. The Board and individual defendants prevailed in the United States District Court and again at the Fourth Circuit. Wood then petitioned for certiorari at the Supreme Court, and the Court directed the filing of an opposition brief, which ultimately prevailed.
The Supreme Court does not typically direct the prevailing party at the federal appellate level to file an opposition brief in every case that is petitioned for certiorari. The fact that it did so in both in the Wood case illustrates the importance and difficulty of the complex issue of federal law presented. Both of these cases were receiving national attention from various education law groups and from United Educators, the national insurance group that provides excess coverage to the Maryland Association of Boards of Education Group Insurance Pool. As much as PK Law’s Education Attorneys would have loved the opportunity to argue their cases before the Supreme Court, victory for their clients was to get the Court to deny certiorari and bring these cases to a final close.
PK Law’s Education Attorneys are fortunate to deal on a regular basis with difficult issues involving the Constitution and laws of the United States that have a huge impact on a large number of students, educators, and local boards of education.
PK Law’s Education Group is comprised of eight attorneys with decades of experience assisting their education clients with all types of legal matters related to the running of an educational institution such as freedom of speech, child abuse, security, accommodating disabilities and providing special education, religious freedom, sexual harassment, immigration issues, labor negotiations and construction litigation. They have handled matters involving many federal laws including the Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act,
Title IX and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The R.F. v. Cecil County Public Schools matter was handled primarily by PK Law Member David A. Burkhouse, with the assistance of Member Rochelle S. Eisenberg and Associate Adam E. Konstas. Wood v. Arnold et al. was handled primarily by Member Andrew G. Scott and Member Lisa Settles.