The Case of the Year!!

We’re Zooming with the Dawg at 10 this morning! Be there in your holiday finery!!

The Case of the Year has to go to the one and only Supreme Court decision that directly involves school law—Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.  As Loyal Daily Dawg Readers know, SCOTUS ruled that Brandi’s foul-mouthed rant on Snapchat was constitutionally protected as free speech, and thus her suspension from the JV cheerleading squad was improper. 

It turned out not to be the blockbuster many of us expected. The Court declined the opportunity to offer a sweeping decision about the authority of schools to address off-campus conduct. Instead, we got what the Court called a more nuanced decision.  The good news for schools is that the Court implicitly acknowledged that campus administrators can address those off-campus issues that cause the most concern: bullying, harassment, threats of violence or school disruption. So we can live with this decision. 

There were other events this year that are worth mentioning as we finish out the year.  Here’s a list:

  1.  Litigation over mask mandates, and who has the power to address this issue.  This has bounced around so much with so many courts coming to so many different conclusions that I have refrained from saying much about it here.  I write these posts two weeks before you see them.  That’s enough time for the Temporary Restraining Order to be stayed, the Temporary Injunction to be considered, and the class action to be decertified.  It’s been moving too fast. 
  2. Craziness at school board meetings to the point that Saturday Night Live picked up on the issue with a skit that was largely based on actual events at a Texas board meeting.
  3. Legislation attempting to mandate that we teach American History without offending or upsetting anyone. 
  4. Ongoing confusion about how we will continue to serve students as the pandemic goes up and down, but never away.  Confusion over funding, hybrid and synchronous/asynchronous learning, etc.
  5. Efforts to remove books from the library, or from voluntary reading lists.
  6. Litigation, legislation and lobbying about how we serve transgender students.
  7. A new law that allows homeschoolers to compete in UIL activities for the local school. But it’s a local option, and no one seems to be permitting it.
  8. More fights over the expansion of the charter school industry in Texas. 
  9. A major change in the Dyslexia Handbook.
  10. Texas getting dinged in a major way by the federal government for our failure to fund special education properly.

Of course it was a legislative year that included not one, not two, but THREE, COUNT ‘EM THREE special sessions.  After each session of the legislature I can count on some superintendent to offer a wisecrack, labeling some new piece of legislation “The School Lawyers Full Employment Act.”  Nobody said that to me this year, maybe because there were so many things that could merit that designation. 

We school lawyers do not need to worry over future employment.  There is a lot going on and there is no end in sight. We hope you find the lawyers to be helpful.  At our firm, we strive to Help the People Who Help the Kids. We try to minimize the legal risks for you so that you can concentrate on what you are there to do: convey to the next generation the knowledge, the skills and the values that we need to maintain this experiment in self-government.

So on behalf of the Walsh Gallegos Law Firm, all of my partners, and all of the staff at WG, the Dawg wishes you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a restful and rejuvenating break.  We’ll be back on January 3, 2022. 


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