Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Importance Of The Chronic Illness Form When Your Child Is Sick

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Life may seem rosy for most California public school kids as they can attend school and are there for most of the material, homework, tests and other school activities.  However, if you find your child is missing a lot of school due to a long term illness and attendance is becoming an issue, completion of a "Chronic Illness Verification  Form" may help protect your child, as well as you, from truancy and other issues.

Truancy laws in California can be very heavy handed and allow punishment for a student with 3 unexcused absences and/or who misses more than 30 minutes in a day without valid excuse (Ed §48260).  Although most schools allow students to miss 3 days without a doctor's note, and only parent verification of illness, the fourth day means a mandated visit to a doctor just to get a note.  If the parent does not get this note for that day and days following, the student may be stuck with an unexcused absence.  Three of these unexcused sick days (days beyond what the school allows a parent to excuse) without a doctor's note may may mean the student is labelled a "truant."  

What happens if the child has an illness which keeps them out for a week at a time, and a doctor visit won't alter this (as it is a chronic condition such as cancer, heart condition, debilitating stomach or pain issues, etc.)?  The parent is still forced to drag their child to a waiting room to see a medical person, and must incur a bill for the office visit just to confirm the child is ill and receives an excused absence.  This is even the case  if the parent already knows their child is sick from illness, but must just stay out a fourth, fifth, etc. day of school in a row prior to being able to return to school.

Schools may not tell parents, but when a student has issues where they physically cannot attend school frequently, which are medically documented, the parent has options other than dragging their child to the doctor on the fourth day of any absence.  These options are not always communicated to families by schools.  

One great option for parents is to have their doctor complete a "Chronic Illness Verification Form,"  (link to form which opens a Word document). This form gives the parent the ability to excuse their child beyond the 3 days the schools normally allow.  The preface in the form states:

"The Chronic Illness Form allows parents to excuse absences due to a specific medical condition with the same authority as a medical professional." 

It may be best to ask for the school's form as a first step, but a parent does not have to wait to get this form from their school.  Rather, parents can take this form directly to their child's doctor.   

Once this form is completed by the medical professional, it is returned to the school, which may verify the form came from the physician.  Thereafter, the parent may excuse their child for medical reasons for an extended time period without having to go to the doctor.  Work missed should be able to be made up and truancy issues will hopefully not be pursued (fingers crossed as some districts try to pursue truancy for "excessive excused" absences).

Other options for help with this type of situation are Home Hospital Instruction (HHI), as well as setting up a Section 504 Plan, or even an IEP (Individualized Education Program).  However, while those may be pending or even not pursued by the parent, this form can help a parent deal with a student who just cannot go to school due to their illness.  It allows an already stressed parent to breathe a large sigh of relief that even though their child is very ill, at least a doctor's visit is not needed every fourth day to avoid truancy at school.    

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Searches Of Underclothing At School Are Illegal

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Most parents will never have much involvement with the drama of school expulsions, heavy allegations against their kids, nor the shock of hearing their child had something improper at school hidden in their pocket.  Occasionally, however, there are horror stories involving searches by school officials looking for alleged contraband which go way too far.

In the infamous case Safford v. Redding, the United States Supreme Court found a school strip search of an Arizona eighth grader in violation of the student's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.  The Court in Safford, however,  left some questions open for Arizona, such as whether a strip search could proceed with a specific allegation of a dangerous object being in e.g. underwear.  However, California had already answered this question prior to Safford, strictly prohibiting searches of private places and underwear. 


No school employee shall conduct a search that involves:

(a) Conducting a body cavity search of a pupil manually or with an instrument.


(b) Removing or arranging any or all of the clothing of a pupil to permit a visual inspection of the underclothing, breast, buttocks, or genitalia of the pupil.

This means that school employees can't lift a girls shirt to see if she has a joint in her bra.  They can't pull down a boys pants to see if he has a pipe, nor lift a girl's skirt to see if she has a weapon hidden.  Such searches are illegal and flat prohibited in California.

Only a handful of times since 1994 have I personally met parents with stories of searches gone wild,  where a student was made to take off articles of clothing or things were moved to reveal underwear.  Often these situations are hard to prove, hard on the kids testifying, and school predators may get away with their wrongful conduct.  This is because there is a bias in our society against youths and their believability.  Schools and adults, when faced with an adult versus child situation, usually believe the adult.  Predators know this which is why kids are the easiest targets.  Who will believe Tim, who said I pulled his pants down to check his underwear?  Not many will, and maybe not even his parents.  And how do you prove it?  It is a tough situation in every regard.

Regardless, I wanted to put out there and remind students and parents that schools MAY NOT search them internally, nor extend any search for contraband to underwear, bras, or private places.

Stories that I hear once in a while of the overstepping which can occur would shock most parents.  They are occasional at best, but still something to know about and discuss with your kids.  If something untoward occurs, it should be jumped on immediately with appropriate reports and complaints filed.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

For more information, see also: https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1753&context=lawfaculty

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Student Electronic Posts Online (In Public Or Private Groups, Chats, And Texts) Are Not Really Private And May Bring Punishment

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Students frequently post things online, make snarky comments to friends, and feel protected posting in "private" online forums, such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or otherwise.  However, these posts can come back to haunt them when they are called in and suspended or placed up for expulsion.  Even great kids can post something wrong sometime--and "get away with it," but how long can their luck last?  For some- the answer is not long enough.

In recent months, I have seen more and more kids up for expulsion or suspension for posts or comments in electronic media.  This is really disturbing as some of the things I see students being punished for really do not support school discipline.  Schools also seem to now be lumping student groups together for punishment, rather than looking at individual culpability.  Staff are choosing to punish all student members of a private group where posts were made regardless of whether they actually committed a suspendable or expellable act themselves.  This is disturbing to say the least, for students and families across California.

So, I thought a review would be helpful so parents can review this with their kids prior to it being "too late."

The California Education Code now extends jurisdiction for student acts far beyond the school doors and the school day.  This really began in full force when the bullying discipline rules were developed, as outlined in section 48900(r).  These rules allow punishment for bullying activities, including "electronic acts."  This punishment may be okay if the traditional rules of jurisdiction applied limiting schools in the scope of their punishment to student acts going from/to school, at school or school events, etc. which has previously been a limiting factor.

However, the legislature now allows electronic acts to support school punishment for bullying, intimidation, harassment, etc and define "electronic act" (Ed 48900(r)(2)(a)) as: 

"“Electronic act” means the creation or transmission originated on or off the schoolsite, by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager, of a communication..." [underline added]

Well, this has opened the floodgates to jurisdiction, as now schools can reach internet or phone posts at home, on weekends, or any other time posted.  This coupled with schools labeling all negative comments on line as "bullying," "intimidation" or "harassment," when they are negative about a group, person, or school staff member, even if private or only told to a small group of students, has resulted in a boom of student punishments.  Parents, who have never before encountered the school discipline machine are being called and told that what their child did online was bullying and they are out.  With the limited investigations being performed, this can be fast and terrifying for student and parent alike.

Some examples of what schools are punishing students for nowadays  (some valid, some invalid) include:

1)  Posts involving criticism of students or staff.
2)  Posts discussing acts that are hypothetical (e.g. harming a student with no real intent).
3)  Jokes or funny pictures.
4)  Posts with weapons and/or threatening someone.
5)  Comments about racial groups, disabled students, or just students in general whether actually bullying them or not
6)  Comments about the opposite sex and sexual matters
7)  Anything the school sees as "negative" and can squeeze into the bullying, harassment, intimidation, etc. category
8)  So many other things----

Schools will also use any data gleaned to develop "reasonable suspicion" to then investigate a student for e.g. drug sales, or other inappropriate activities.

Parents of kids who made an offhand comment on a private chat,or otherwise, are now faced with their children being suspended or even expelled for their comments or jokes.  The executioner- the school- doesn't really care about First Amendment rights, but rather care about getting any perceived threat out so they can cover themselves.

These rules and their application to everything people say on line if comments somehow relate to the school setting or someone who is involved with the schools, chills free speech.  I imagine someday, some large civil rights group may try to challenge the application of these policies to try to limit them, but for now, we are faced with having to stop our kids from posting anything that anyone under the sun could misinterpret as offensive, harassing, bullying, intimidating, inappropriate, discussing race, sexual relations, or otherwise being interpreted as wrong.  How are kids to do this?  It can be tough to not make a 5 second offhand comment online which later someone says was inappropriate.

And, one large rule to remember here: NO ELECTRONIC POST, PICTURE, OR PRIVATE GROUP IS REALLY PRIVATE.  If a student posts something privately and one other student or parent reports it- it is no longer private.  Even in Snapchat where supposedly pictures are gone forever- people take screenshots of negative posts and turn them in to the schools frequently.  

Parents, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and I don't agree with the long arm of the schools now in place.  However, for now, parents, please discuss this speech-chilling situation with your kids and advise them to be cautious in what they post, and perhaps, to ask themselves  prior to posting or joining a group where inappropriate comments are made: "If my school principal saw this post/group what would he/she say?"


Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.





Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Parents Have The Right To Review Or Obtain Copies Of Their Child's School Records

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

School records created by a high school, elementary school, private school, or school district, can loom as an unknown for many parents.  Parents often don't even think about what may be in these files.  One way to debunk the mystery of what may be being documented on your child is to make a written request for the education records to be released.

Per California Education Code section 49069, a parent has an absolute right to access their child's records.  This right transfers to a student when they turn 18.

Section 49069 states as follows:

Parents of currently enrolled or former pupils have an absolute right to access to any and all pupil records related to their children that are maintained by school districts or private schools.  The editing or withholding of any of those records, except as provided for in this chapter, is prohibited.

What this means is that parents of students of all school levels may review, inspect, and request copies of records concerning their children which the school maintains.  The definition of "maintains" is a term of art, but it (very) roughly means documents the school must or does keep, which are not personal notes [see also 34 Code of Federal Regulations section 99.3].  Access or copies of the records must be provided within 5 business days of any valid request.

This code also directs districts to develop procedures for parents to obtain student records which  should be outlined in school board policies. 

Schools can charge a per page copy fee for any records provided, but cannot charge for the time of the staff gathering the records.  

Parents should request their child's records in writing periodically, quoting the relevant board policy or Education Code §49069.  

You never know what may be in your child's records. Most families will not find anything untoward.  Sadly, however, I have seen some parents shocked at just what was contained in their child's files.  


Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Originally published 6/8/11, updated 11/28/17

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When is School Expulsion Mandatory in California Public Schools?

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

School expulsion is NOT something any parent wants their child to endure.  To be removed entirely from a school district to have to attend a "bad" school is not a fun process.  A permanent mark is placed on the student's record which may come up later in life, including when completing college applications.  As such, it is good to know WHEN an expulsion is MANDATORY for a school district. In other words, when does a school district have no choice but to recommend expulsion and thereafter expel a student?

In California there are only five categories where a public school student MUST be expelled.  Please see Education Code §48915(c) for more specifics:

1)  Possessing, selling or furnishing a firearm.
2)  Brandishing a knife at another person.
3)  Unlawfully selling a controlled substance.
4)  Committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault or committing a sexual battery.
5)  Possession of an explosive.

These are the Big 5 offenses.  IF a district can prove at the expulsion hearing (to a panel of school district employees) that one of these occurred, they are legally obligated to expel the student.  

If a student is expelled under §48915(c), the only attendance option (unless negotiated otherwise) is to attend a county community school, juvenile court school or community day school (see §48915.2), which are environments most parents would prefer to avoid

How long an expulsion under §48915(c) will continue will depend on the hearing outcome, and/or the negotiations prior to hearing.  The legal maximum an expulsion under §48915(c) may continue is a full calendar year (unless there is a breach of the rehabilitation plan during expulsion which will extend the expulsion). The minimum is not delineated in code, but would likely be 1 semester and/or what a parent negotiates. 

It IS possible to shorten the one year expulsion mandate and negotiate and/or receive a lesser time period, or even a different type of expulsion (e.g. suspended expulsion rather than full expulsion), but whether this is possible will depend on the student, the district and the school board.  Parents will best be served by thoroughly understanding the ramifications of any expulsion and all potential outcomes, and perhaps seeing if they can negotiate a more positive outcome, prior to moving to hearing.
Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

originally published 1/7/11, updated 9/19/17


Monday, August 14, 2017

Appealing A Bad OCR Decision On Alleged School Discrimination

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Have you filed a complaint alleging discrimination or improper retaliation with the United States Department of Education (USDOE) and their Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and received a negative ruling?  Did they say the clear wrongful acts (to you) were not really bad or not really discriminatory?  If so, you may have an appeal right if you act fast.

Per the USDOE website, within 60 days of the date of the letter issued by OCR, an appeal must be filed with the "Director of the Enforcement Office (Office Director)."  

The bases for appeal listed are:

AT LEAST ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
1)  Factual information was incomplete, and/or
2)  Factual analysis was not correct, and/or
3)  Wrong legal standard was applied 
AND
a)  The outcome would be changed due to #1-3 above.

The appeal must be filed timely, and if it isn't, the parent/student/claimant, must show a good reason the appeal was filed late, which is defined as:

"1.  the complainant was unable to submit the appeal within the 60-day timeframe because of illness or other incapacitating circumstances and the appeal was filed within 30 days after the period of illness or incapacitation ended; or
2  unique circumstances generated by agency action have adversely affected the complainant." (per USDOE/OCR)

The decision will be forwarded to the parent/student/claimant in writing after review.

So, if you are piping mad about an OCR ruling against you or your child, appeal of that decision may be an option, but must be pursued timely and with adequate proof.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]



Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Schools Have An Obligation To Provide Translated Documents

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

California is a diverse state, with many different cultures, nationalities and languages being spoken.  Residents' children, regardless of language spoken by students or their parents, have the right to attend California public schools.  Still, while non-English speaking students may attend classes (e.g. Spanish/English transition classes) which help them transition to English, their parents may remain non-English speakers.  How do they stay informed about their child's school progress, development, and any issues which might arise?

Education Code §48985  mandates that documents be translated for non-English speaking parents if pupils speak a language other than English and total more than 15% of a school's population:

"(a) If 15 percent or more of the pupils enrolled in a public school that provides instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, speak a single primary language other than English, as determined from the census data submitted to the department pursuant to Section 52164 in the preceding year, all notices, reports, statements, or records sent to the parent or guardian of any such pupil by the school or school district shall, in addition to being written in English, be written in the primary language, and may be responded to either in English or the primary language."

If pupils speaking a language other than English total more than 15% of a school's population, documents must be sent to their family in English and their native language (e.g. Spanish, Cantonese, Arabic, Hmong, Russian or other language depending on the population of the school).  Such documents should include report cards, testing notices, policies, enrollment paperwork, discipline notices and many other communications to the students' families.

Education Code §51101.1 further addresses the rights of parents to translated documents

"(a) A parent or guardian’s lack of English fluency does not preclude a parent or guardian from exercising the rights guaranteed under this chapter. A school district shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that all parents and guardians of pupils who speak a language other than English are properly notified in English and in their home language, pursuant to Section 48985, of the rights and opportunities available to them pursuant to this section.
(b) Parents and guardians of English learners are entitled to participate in the education of their children pursuant to Section 51101 and as follows
...
(2) To be given any required written notification, under any applicable law, in English and the pupil’s home language pursuant to Section 48985."

I have seen non-English speaking parents' rights breached via school district failure to provide translated documents.  This has included improperly translated expulsion hearing documents, suspension forms, report cards, and other legally mandated documents.  This prevents the non-English speaking parents from being able to read and understand the documents they receive and lessens their ability to participate in their children's education.

If you know someone who is not an English speaker, be sure they know their rights to translated educational documents pursuant to state law.  We all benefit if parents are engaged in their kids' education.


Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cats and Dogs Released From Public Colleges: The Obligation To Allow Adoption After The Experiment Is Over

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Did you know that cats and dogs are used as test subjects in colleges and universities?  People often think of rats, mice and primates as animals used in research, but typical "pets" are sadly also used (see graphic article on cat experimentation in colleges).  What happens to the animals if they are still well AFTER a public college is through with them?  Are they euthanized or do they have to be placed in new homes?  It depends on their condition.

Per California Education Code §66017.7, animals which are "suitable for adoption" after the school is through with them, do not have to be put to death.  Rather, they are to be placed up for adoption by the college or given to an adoption agency to place.

This section states in part:

"(a) A public postsecondary educational institution or independent institution of higher education, or employee or student thereof, that confines dogs or cats for the purposes set forth in Section 1650 of the Health and Safety Code, if the institution assesses the health of an animal and determines, after the completion of any testing or research, that the animal is suitable for adoption, the animal’s destruction is not required, and the animal is no longer needed, and if the institution’s existing procedures for adopting the animal do not result in an adoption, shall offer the dogs or cats to an animal adoption organization or animal rescue organization for adoption prior to euthanizing those animals. A public postsecondary educational institution or independent institution of higher education that is required to offer dogs or cats to an animal adoption organization or animal rescue organization under this section may enter into an agreement with an animal adoption organization or animal rescue organization for the implementation of this section."

This does not prevent experimentation, but forces adoption after the tests are through and prevents the unnecessary killing of healthy cats and dogs.  If a public college or university is done with a dog or cat, and there is no reason the pet MUST be killed, the school is required to offer the cat or dog to an adoption agency to place if the college cannot find the animal a new home.

All creatures have an urge to survive and this law at least, is something.  Maybe these animals can find a home where tummy rubs, not needles, are used to stimulate them.

Later in the above code, it is indicated that such requirements do not apply to animals listed in Food and Agriculture Code 17006 which references animals that are ill and may not be healed or newborn animals who were "impounded without their mothers." 

I have gotten all my pets from local adoption groups and love every one of them.  I don't think any of my animals were experimented on.  Hopefully college-discarded cats and dogs will find loving homes when released from our local universities, maybe even with you.


Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cyber Sexual Bullying: One More Reason To Boot Your Kids Out Of School

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
  
Cyber sexual bullying is now a suspendable or expellable offense in California schools.  Bullying already is an expellable offense, but apparently the legislature did not think "bullying" alone was broad enough.  As such, the legislature chose to add a new offense to the ever growing list of things a student may do wrong.  Now students may not bully and also use or reference sexually explicit electronic communications, which are covered by this new subcategory of bullying.

California Education Code §48900(r)(2)(iii) states:

"...“cyber sexual bullying” means the dissemination of, or the solicitation or incitement to disseminate, a photograph or other visual recording by a pupil to another pupil or to school personnel by means of an electronic act that has or can be reasonably predicted to have one or more of the effects described in [the Bullying section]. A photograph or other visual recording, as described above, shall include the depiction of a nude, semi-nude, or sexually explicit photograph or other visual recording of a minor where the minor is identifiable from the photograph, visual recording, or other electronic act.
(II) For purposes of this clause, “cyber sexual bullying” does not include a depiction, portrayal, or image that has any serious literary, artistic, educational, political, or scientific value or that involves athletic events or school-sanctioned activities." [bracketed material added]

An act of cyber sexual bullying must be "bullying" and also sexual in nature as defined above.  

It is interesting that "incitement to disseminate" is an offense covered under this subsection.  This could mean a student who did not send or take an improper picture, but rather only "incited" someone to send or take it, could also potentially be guilty of an offense.  This sexual bullying can involve "sexting," where nude photographs of students are shared, presumably by others who are not authorized to share them.  

When Governor Brown signed this into law, a press release explained:

"Sexual bullying is a form of bullying commonly facing teenagers.  It is a behavior that can include harassing an individual or others through comments and actions that are sexual in nature. Furthermore, sexual bullying can occur in person or online.  The act of sexting, where sexual, nude or semi-nude images are exchanged electronically, has become a recent occurrence in the lives of young people, and can be a major form of sexual bullying, or cyber sexual bullying.  Approximately 20 percent of teenage boys and girls have sent a sext message, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics." 

In recent years, the long arm of the schools frequently attempts to reach acts outside school grounds, activities and hours, particularly with bullying.  It used to be that acts on the weekend stayed on the weekend.  However, if matters come into the school and cause a bullying environment, even if not intended to do so, it is possible the schools may try to punish the offending student(s) regardless of where the offending act(s) occurred.  Students beware.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Do You Have To File A Claim Form Each Time You Want To Sue A School? Maybe Yes Maybe No: Here Are Some Exceptions

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Filing a required claim form with a government agency, such as a school or school district, prior to moving to court can be a daunting and confusing task.  I have previously written about the pre-court filing requirement for certain claims against a school or school district (herehere and here) but wanted to add a list of some exclusions (may not be an exhaustive list) for parents and students. 

I don't need to reiterate my earlier posts on filing and late filing, but one code section is relevant when evaluating whether a pre-court filing may be required or not.  California Government Code section 905 states:

"There shall be presented in accordance with Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 900) and Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 910) all claims for money or damages against local public entities except any of the following:

(a) Claims under the Revenue and Taxation Code or other statute prescribing procedures for the refund, rebate, exemption, cancellation, amendment, modification, or adjustment of any tax, assessment, fee, or charge or any portion thereof, or of any penalties, costs, or charges related thereto.

(b) Claims in connection with which the filing of a notice of lien, statement of claim, or stop notice is required under any law relating to liens of mechanics, laborers, or materialmen.

(c) Claims by public employees for fees, salaries, wages, mileage, or other expenses and allowances.

(d) Claims for which the workers’ compensation authorized by Division 4 (commencing with Section 3200) of the Labor Code is the exclusive remedy.

(e) Applications or claims for any form of public assistance under the Welfare and Institutions Code or other provisions of law relating to public assistance programs, and claims for goods, services, provisions, or other assistance rendered for or on behalf of any recipient of any form of public assistance.

(f) Applications or claims for money or benefits under any public retirement or pension system.

(g) Claims for principal or interest upon any bonds, notes, warrants, or other evidences of indebtedness.

(h) Claims that relate to a special assessment constituting a specific lien against the property assessed and that are payable from the proceeds of the assessment, by offset of a claim for damages against it or by delivery of any warrant or bonds representing it.

(i) Claims by the state or by a state department or agency or by another local public entity or by a judicial branch entity.

(j) Claims arising under any provision of the Unemployment Insurance Code, including, but not limited to, claims for money or benefits, or for refunds or credits of employer or worker contributions, penalties, or interest, or for refunds to workers of deductions from wages in excess of the amount prescribed.

(k) Claims for the recovery of penalties or forfeitures made pursuant to Article 1 (commencing with Section 1720) of Chapter 1 of Part 7 of Division 2 of the Labor Code.

(l) Claims governed by the Pedestrian Mall Law of 1960 (Part 1 (commencing with Section 11000) of Division 13 of the Streets and Highways Code).

(m) Claims made pursuant to Section 340.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure for the recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse. This subdivision shall apply only to claims arising out of conduct occurring on or after January 1, 2009.

(n) Claims made pursuant to Section 701.820 of the Code of Civil Procedure for the recovery of money pursuant to Section 26680.

(o) Claims made pursuant to Section 49013 of the Education Code for reimbursement of pupil fees for participation in educational activities."

One of the sections referenced above includes claims pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure §340.1, which relates to childhood sexual abuse.  As we all know, childhood sexual abuse all to frequently occurs in schools or involves school employees. 

Another section referenced is a claim for fees wrongly paid under California Education Code sections 49010-49013, such as a claim for return of fees improperly charged for books, materials, extracurricular activities and otherwise.

Parents and students need to be aware of applicable filing time limits so they can competently pursue their school claims should a dispute, sexual abuse claim, or other situation arise.  

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Student On Student Vaginal Ultrasounds Found To Be Search Under Fourth Amendment

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Earlier this week, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that a transvaginal ultrasound requested of college students at Valencia College in Florida was a search for Fourth Amendment purposes.  

California is within the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but often sister jurisdiction decisions impact and influence decisions here.  The decision is noteworthy for its facts, which college students may want to be aware of, and for the definitive ruling that this conduct did involve a search for purposes of Fourth Amendment analysis.

The basics are that students who entered the state run Valencia College Sonography program were allegedly asked to "volunteer" for transvaginal ultrasounds to be performed on them by other students in the program (male and female).  Three students refused.  Two were allegedly thereafter badgered into allowing this invasive procedure to be done on them.  The third student did not agree and was as a result excluded from the ultrasound procedures, given "two failing grades and yelled at... for an hour until she had a panic attack," according to the decision in Doe v. Valencia College Board of Trustees (11th Circuit, October 4, 2016).  Per Judge William Pryor, these transvaginal ultrasounds involve insertion of a sonogram device into the student's vagina and can be painful and embarrassing.

The students filed suit in federal court alleging breach of their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches, breach of their First Amendment speech rights and other bases.  They requested damages, injunctive relief, and attorney fees and costs.  

The lower court (District Court) dismissed the students' complaint alleging that their communications on the procedure to the college were "school-sponsored" speech and that there was no search.  An appeal of this dismissal was made to the Eleventh Circuit, where the court, taking the students' assertions as fact for the proceeding, found that the speech was not "school-sponsored" and that the insertion of the objects into a student's vaginal area was indeed a search under the Fourth Amendment.

The matter now returns to the District Court for proceedings and presumably a trial.

This case shows the extent to which some colleges may breach students' rights: by forcefully leveraging the power of a potential degree to get students to submit to invasive procedures.  More shocking for most may be the fact of how the college treated the student who refused this intrusive search of her body- with reported degradation and failing grades.  

Just another day in the life of a college student at the mercy of government run educational institutions.

Best,
Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.