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The Constitutional Rights of Students Wearing American Flag Shirts on Cinco de Mayo Were Not Violated When They Were Required to Remove or Turn Their Shirts Inside Out or Leave School for the Day To Prevent Substantial Disruption or Violence at the School
On Cinco de Mayo 2010, when school officials at a California high school became aware of a potential altercation between two groups of students, they asked the students wearing shirts bearing images of the American flag to remove or turn their shirts inside out or leave school for the day as an excused absence. The students later sued alleging violation of their Constitutional freedom of expression, equal protection, and due process rights. A federal district court ruled in favor of the district. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court decision, finding that the school officials' actions, among other things, did not violate the First Amendment since the officials "anticipated violence or substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities, and their response was tailored to the circumstances.” (Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District (--- F.3d ----, C.A.9 (Cal.), February 27, 2014).
Classified Management Employee’s Misconduct Justified School District’s Termination of Employment, Despite Protected Speech
A school district classified management employee sought to overturn his dismissal from employment, which he alleged was in retaliation for engaging in protected speech. A California court of appeal held that, given the evidence of the employee’s insubordination, misuse of the school district’s computers, and retaliation against other employees, the school district was justified in terminating his employment based on the misconduct unrelated to the potentially protected speech. (Thornbrough v. Western Placer Unified School District (December 23, 2013, C068317) --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, Cal.App. 3 Dist.).
Brown Act Amendment Now Requires Recordation of Actions Taken During Open Sessions
Senate Bill 751 amends Government Code section 54953 to require the legislative body of a local agency to publicly report any action taken and the vote or abstention on that action of each member present for the action. This requirement became effective January 1, 2014. School districts will now need to record the vote or abstention of each member on each item presented during public meetings, as well as publicly announce the action taken and the vote or abstention of each member in attendance. Reporting the number of ayes, nays, or abstentions alone will not be enough, as the names of each board member and their vote is now required. Votes may need to be taken by roll call or in another manner as set forth below that allows verification of the vote of each member in order to comply with the requirements of SB 751.
CalSTRS Extends Time to Elect to have Service Count Toward CalSTRS Retirement
CalSTRS recently issued new guidance that applies when a CalSTRS member changes to a new position that may not be eligible for participation in the retirement system. The guidance, found in Employer Information Circular, Volume 29, Issue 3, provides CalSTRS members extra time to elect to have their service in a new position credited to the CalSTRS system. The new guidance was issued as a result of the substantial confusion caused by the 2012 Employer Information Circular, Volume 28, Issue 1, which specified the types of positions that are not eligible for CalSTRS.
Individual Fund Information for Investments Made by a Public Agency were not Prepared, Owned, Used, or Retained by the Agency, and, thus, not Subject to Disclosure as Public Records
Reuters America LLC submitted a request pursuant to the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) seeking individual fund information for current investments made by the Regents of the University of California (“Regents”). While the trial court found that the information was available to the Regents, and thus within its "constructive possession" and subject to disclosure, the Court of Appeal reversed and held that the information sought by Reuters was not prepared, owned, used, or retained by the Regents. Therefore, according to the appellate court, the information was not a public record within the meaning of the CPRA, and the Regents was under no obligation to obtain the information for disclosure to the requestor. (The Regents of the University of California v. The Superior Court of Alameda County (--- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, Cal.App. 1 Dist., December 19, 2013).