Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Praying Football Coach in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District

by Mark Timmerman Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States released its opinion in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. In 2015, an assistant football coach named Joseph Kennedy, at Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Washington, was reprimanded by District administration for actions such as leading students in a pre-game prayer, conducting post-game talks that included religious content, and leading students in a prayer at the 50-yard line after games. The District, which is public, was concerned that his religious

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New CDC Guidance Removes Mask Requirements for School Buses

Effective February 25, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) no longer requires the wearing of masks on buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care and education/child care programs. However, school districts may still require people to wear masks on buses or vans at their discretion.

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Federal Appeals Court Rules That Federal Law May Require Mask Mandates in Public Schools

by Jim Layton In a suit brought by parents of children with serious disabilities, the St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld an injunction against an Iowa law barring mask mandates in public schools. The court held that “mask requirements are reasonable accommodations required by federal disability law to protect the rights of Plaintiffs”™ children.” “Reasonable accommodations” for students (and staff) with disabilities are required by the federal Rehabilitation Act. Prior to the enactment of a

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Emergency Rules for Mandatory Vaccines for School Personnel

by Christine Self The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) filed a Notice of Emergency Rule Making today, September 17, 2021, to address mandatory vaccinations for school personnel, as required by Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order 2021-22. The Emergency Rules state that school personnel are required to have the first dose of a two-dose vaccine or the single dose vaccine by September 19, 2021, or submit to weekly testing in lieu of vaccination if vaccination is medically contraindicated

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TRO Denied in Sangamon County Illinois on Governor Pritzker’s Mask Order

by Christine Self In Sangamon County Court, Judge Raylene Grischow denied Plaintiffs”™ request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enjoin Governor Pritzker’s August 4, 2021 mask requirement for schools. Plaintiffs are parents of students in McHenry County schools and they filed suit to stop Governor Pritzker’s mask mandate in Executive Order 2021-18 (extended in Executive Order 2021-19). Plaintiffs requested an emergency TRO and preliminary injunction in McHenry County and the case was transferred to Sangamon County on motion of

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Department of Education Releases Questions and Answers on Title IX Regulations

by Veronica Potter On July 20, 2021, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) published it’s Questions and Answers on the Title IX Regulations on Sexual Harassment (“Q&A”). This resource contains a series of questions and answers regarding the regulations on Title IX that went into effect on August 14, 2020 (“2020 Regulations”), as well as excerpts of example policies from elementary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions. In a blog

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Weighing Conviction History in Illinois Employment Decisions

by Christine Self Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) that took effect March 23, 2021, make it a civil rights violation for an employer to use an individual’s conviction record “as a basis to refuse to hire, to segregate, or to act with respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, renewal of employment, selection for training or apprenticeship, discharge, discipline, tenure or terms, privileges or conditions of employment”¦unless:   (1) there is a substantial relationship between one or more of

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United States Supreme Court Holds Discipline for Off-Campus Speech Violated First Amendment

by Kylie Piatt In an 8-1 decision issued on June 23, 2021, the United States Supreme Court upheld a student’s First Amendment right to free speech related to comments made via social media while off-campus. In Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., B.L. was a rising sophomore high school student at Mahanoy Area High School, who tried out for but did not make the school’s varsity cheerleading squad.   Concurrently, B.L. had tried out for a certain position on her

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U.S. Dept. of Ed. Says Title IX Protects Students from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

by Jenna Lakamp On June 16, 2021, the United States Department of Education (the “Department”) issued a Notice of Interpretation (the “Notice”) confirming that Title IX’s prohibition of sex-based discrimination includes discrimination based on students”™ sexual orientation and gender identity.  This interpretation of Title IX stems from the Supreme Court decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S. __ , 140 S. Ct. 1731; 207 L. Ed. 2d 218; 2020 WL 3146686; 2020 U.S. LEXIS 3252 (2020), which was issued on

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EEOC Updates and Expands Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccines

by Mandi Moutray On May 28, 2021, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (“EEOC”) updated and expanded its guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and specifically addressed questions relating to COVID-19 vaccinations. The full guidance can be found in the EEOC publication,  What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. The updated guidance confirms that federal EEO laws do not prohibit employers from mandating vaccination for all employees physically entering the

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