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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 4: State and Federal Issues


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State and Federal Issues

Local educational agency (LEA)

generally, a school district

As described in chapter 1, while states are the primary locus of power in American public education law, they delegate most decision-making authority to local school districts (called local educational agencies or LEAs in most federal law). Thus, the focus of chapters 2 and 3 was on facts-and-find at the school and district levels, where most issues among students, parents, teachers, and school administrators are played out. As a guiding force in these controversies, the state’s hand is present, but mostly hidden, through its statutory and regulatory—call it policymaking—authority rather than through active decision making on a case-by-case basis.

Unfunded mandate

the pejorative term for a federally required action by states and school districts without provision of sufficient federal funding to meet the requirements

While not required under the Constitution, the federal government is increasingly partnering with states in educational policymaking, often with the states as reluctant participants. Using its constitutional funding powers under Article I, § 8, Congress inserts itself into the role traditionally left to the states to impose mandates on local districts. In accepting federal funds, arguably a Faustian bargain, the states become conduits for these federal programs. In passing along these obligations to LEAs, states often add their own regulatory requirements consistent with federal law. Even if the federal scheme is not...

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