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American Public Education Law Primer


David C. Bloomfield

This clear, readable introductory text for undergraduate and graduate Education Law courses or modules offers a practical guide to everyday problems such as student expression, discipline, religion, curriculum, social media, privacy, charter schools, discrimination, special education, and more. Features include distinctions among school, district, state, and federal law; the Facts and Find research method; the Cascade approach to the American legal system; lobbying advice; and the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the replacement to No Child Left Behind. Written by the ex-Counsel to the New York City Board of Education and a graduate of Columbia University Law School, American Public Education Law Primer is more than an academic text, presenting the real world of Education Law to benefit professionals, parents, and the general public.
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Chapter 3: School District Issues


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School District Issues


In the United States, curriculum is almost always a discretionary matter for educators to decide within usually broad parameters set by state education departments under legislative direction. The courts give wide latitude to curricular decisions, seeking to distance themselves from micromanaging what is or is not taught. See, for example, Hazelwood School Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988) (contents of student newspaper subject to legitimate curricular and pedagogical judgment of principal); Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982), infra (content of classroom libraries subject to broad discretion as curricular in nature); Virgil v. School Board of Columbia County, 862 F.2d 1917 (11th Cir. 1989) (refusing to overturn board decision to remove “inappropriate” material from the curriculum); Mozert v. Hawkins County Public Schools, 827 F.2d 1058 (6th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1066 (1988) (refusing to allow child to “opt out” of core-curriculum reading course); Smith v. Board of School Comm. of Mobile, 827 F.2d 684 (11th Cir. 1987) (refusing to require school board to remove books from curriculum that are offensive to parents’ religious beliefs). According to the National School Boards Association (, “Courts are traditionally reluctant to wade into educational decisions, especially on issues such as curriculum. Judges prefer to leave these matters to the experts: school boards and administrators. But they will intervene to protect the legal rights of...

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