6th Circuit Temporarily Pauses Implementation of New Title IX Regulations

6th Circuit Temporarily Pauses Implementation of New Title IX Regulations

Tennessee v. Cardona, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106559

A federal district court judge in Kentucky issued a preliminary injunction on June 17, 2024 against the Department of Education’s new 2024 Title IX regulations that are set to go into effect on August 1, 2024. The injunction issued by the Kentucky judge is limited to the six plaintiff-states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, and West Virginia. There are multiple other lawsuits across the country with pending motions for preliminary injunctions that also may impact when the Department’s Title IX Final Rules will go into effect.

The Final Rules released by the Department in April include an expanded definition of “discrimination on the basis of sex” based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton Cty., 590 U.S. 644, 681–83 (2020), that seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in a Title VII case. The federal district court held that the new regulations will dramatically alter the purpose and meaning of Title IX, and issued a preliminary injunction to pause the implementation of the 2024 Title IX regulations until the case may proceed further for the following reasons:

  • The Department’s interpretation likely exceeds its statutory authority,
  • The Department’s actions were arbitrary and capricious,
  • The Department’s reading goes against the major questions doctrine,
  • The Clear statement rule under the Spending Clause weighs against the new Title IX regulations,
  • The Plaintiffs raised valid First Amendment free speech concerns, and
  • The Department’s reading likely violates parental rights.

According to the court, the original goal of Title IX was to ensure that women have an equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, and participate in society based on their individual talents and capacities, and that before the last decade, the words “sex” and “discrimination on the basis of sex” had universally been understood to refer to biological sex under the statute. The court disagreed with the Department’s reliance on Bostock. The majority in Bostock claimed the decision did not apply beyond Title VII to other federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination, and the dissent warned about how the ruling could be misapplied in the school context. 

Citing last week’s different decision in Texas, in which a federal district court in the 5th Circuit enjoined the Department’s 2021 guidance, the court reminded the Department that federal agencies “…lack the authority to rewrite clear statutory terms to suit its own sense of how the statute should operate.” Texas v. Cardona, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103452, at 85.

For purposes of Title IX, the court found that the term “sex” unambiguously refers to biological sex, and that Congress did not implicitly delegate its authority to change or expand that meaning to the Department. Similarly, Title IX was enacted as an exercise of Congress’ power under the Spending Clause which requires the government to condition the receipt of federal funds “unambiguously” so that states may be cognizant of the consequences of their participation and exercise their choice knowingly. South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203, 207 (1987). But the court found that the Final Rule’s language provides no indication that an institution’s receipt of federal funds is conditioned on any sort of mandate concerning gender identity.

Lastly, the court cautioned that the new Title IX regulations may infringe on the constitutional rights of students, staff, and parents. The court found that the Final Rules require districts to treat children consistent with their gender identities on school grounds, even if that conflicts with parental preferences.  The court cautions that the Department’s reading of Title IX may require districts to enter the “private realm of family life” that has been afforded both substantive and procedural protections.

What this means for your district

The preliminary injunction issued by the federal district judge in Kentucky within the 6thCircuit this week pauses the Title IX Final Rules implementation in the six states involved, including Ohio, but only temporarily. As the case progresses to a full hearing, the injunction may be lifted or a permanent injunction could be issued. There is also potential that one of the other pending lawsuits impacts how the Final Rules are implemented. We may not have a definitive answer on compliance with the new Title IX regulations until these cases make their way through the court system. In the meantime, districts should continue to prepare for the new rules, even if they are currently delayed, to ensure they are prepared to implement Title IX provisions if and when they go into effect. This decision does not reverse or modify the 6th Circuit precedent concerning Title IX and students within K-12 schools. Consult your legal counsel.

Ohio Requires Schools to Adopt New Cell Phone Use Policies

Ohio Requires Schools to Adopt New Cell Phone Use Policies

On May 15, 2024, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 250 into law. The law mandates that all Ohio school districts adopt a policy governing students’ use of cell phones during school hours. The law is set to take effect on January 1, 2025. The law requires the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce (“DEW”) to publish a model policy that complies with the new legislation within sixty days of the legislation’s effective date.

Meanwhile, districts have until July 1, 2025, to adopt a policy that satisfies the following:

  • Emphasizes the limited use of cell phones during school hours.
  • Reduces phone-related distractions in the classroom setting.
  • If included in a student’s Individualized Education Program (“IEP”), or determined to be appropriate by the school board, permits a student to use phones for learning or to monitor health concerns.

Although the law does not require the banning of cell phones during school hours, it states that any school that chooses to do so will be viewed as complying with the new law.

Reason for Legislation? Governor DeWine and the state legislature are attempting to limit distractions in the classroom to “reestablish the opportunity for students across Ohio to immerse themselves in their classwork.” Increased cell phone usage is not only seen as a distraction to student learning but has been linked to damaging student mental health. The Passage of the law seems to follow an already growing movement across the state to cut back on cell phones in schools. Many districts have already adopted cell phone restrictions that appear to comply with the state’s new policy.

What This Means for Your District? While the core mission of the bill is to minimize screen time during school hours, Governor DeWine insists that districts will have the freedom to “create policies that work best in their environments and for their students.” The DEW is expected to release its model policy before March of next year. Any district that adopts a policy after January 1 of next year must do so at a public meeting of the school board and make the policy publicly available. This includes posting the policy prominently on the district’s website if they have one.










































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Special Education Update: Sixth Circuit Confirms District Obligations for Dual Enrolled Students

Special Education Update: Sixth Circuit Confirms District Obligations for Dual Enrolled Students

In a recent decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does not require school districts to provide special education services or accommodations in dual credit courses offered at postsecondary schools. The decision stems from an appeal filed on behalf of a Kentucky student with Tourette’s Syndrome, autism, and other physical and cognitive conditions. After three years of accelerated courses in high school and a dual credit course at a local university, the student’s IEP team determined to focus on his transition to postsecondary education – pinpointing a “residential college experience” as one possible option. When Parents enrolled the student in a dual credit, dual enrollment residential program outside of the district, their request for on campus IEP services was denied. The family then filed due process, seeking reimbursement for the support services financed by parents. The hearing officer and the appeals board sided with the district. The ensuing court appeal was dismissed by the trial court.

On further appeal, the Sixth Circuit’s review highlighted several relevant points, beginning with the clear fact that the Act applies to “secondary,” not postsecondary education. Since the program at issue delivered college-level courses on a college campus, it was not covered under the IDEA. Following the guidance of the U.S. and Kentucky Departments of Education, the Court found that the mandate for a free appropriate public education did not include postsecondary education.

The Court also considered that the dual enrollment was in fact exclusively exercised in a college setting located some 130 miles from the student’s high school. As the district had no control over what classes the student took, what times services might be warranted, or where the services would be provided, the Court agreed that the Act did not obligation school districts to provide services at universities as opposed to the student’s high school.

Finally, the Court distinguished between the obligation to provide special education services for Advance Placement courses and doing so for the dual enrolled student. AP courses are available to high school students based on district-determined offerings and do not require enrollment in a postsecondary institution. However, the residential postsecondary program here caters to high school students but does not offer a secondary school education. Therefore, the dual enrollment precludes eligibility under the IDEA.

What this means for school districts: The facts in this case clearly establish that off- campus college credit programs do not oblige school districts to provide special education services. Accordingly, schools should carefully consider program location and the level of program control when suggesting postsecondary transitional services for high school students.


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































FTC Proposes Strengthening COPPA to Further Limit Companies’ Ability to Monetize Children’s Data

FTC Proposes Strengthening COPPA to Further Limit Companies’ Ability to Monetize Children’s Data

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) that would place restrictions on the use and disclosure of children’s personal information and limit the ability of companies to condition access to services on monetizing children’s data. This would be accomplished by actions such as a requirement that targeted advertising be off by default, limiting push notifications, restricting surveillance in schools, and strengthening data security. The FTC’s Press Release stated that the purpose of these proposals are to “shift the burden from parents to providers to ensure that digital services are safe and secure for children.”

The COPPA Rule first went into effect in 2000, when it required certain websites and online services that collect personal information from children under 13 to obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing that personal information. In 2013, the FTC made changes that reflected the increased use of mobile devices, to protect children’s online activity, as well as photos, videos, and audio recordings. The FTC stated that this most recent proposed change comes at a time when “online tools are essential for navigating daily life.” Implementing such tools will not only allow children to be online without being “endlessly tracked” by companies, but also places the obligation on service providers, rather than allowing such providers to outsource their responsibilities to parents.

In order to achieve those goals, the FTC has stated that the proposed changes will include:
● Requiring separate opt-in for targeted advertising
● Prohibition against conditioning a child’s participation on collection of personal information
● Limits on the support for the internal operations exception
● Limits on nudging kids to stay online
● Changes related to Ed Tech
● Increasing accountability for Safe Harbor programs
● Strengthening data security requirements
● Limits on data retention

Once the proposed changes are published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit a comment.































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Office of Civil Rights Reminds Schools of Their Obligation to Provide All Students a School Environment Free from Discrimination

Office of Civil Rights Reminds Schools of Their Obligation to Provide All Students a School Environment Free from Discrimination

On November 7, 2023, in the wake of unrest in the Middle East, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) released a Dear Colleagues Letter reminding pre K-12 schools and institutions of their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). The letter emphasized that all schools, colleges, and universities that receive federal financial must comply with  Title VI. These legal obligations include providing all students, including students perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, and/or Palestinian, a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. The letter urges schools to ensure all students have the freedom to learn in safe and inclusive school environments as the tension in the Middle East continues to rise.

 In addition, to the Dear Colleagues Letter, the OCR released an updated complaint form for complaints alleging violations of Title VI. The updated complaint form now extends “national origin” to include students who are perceived to be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or based on other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics

 What Does This Mean for School Districts?

In light of the emphasis from OCR, school districts should be alert for discrimination and harassment incidents on school grounds. It is each school district’s legal obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to address discrimination and potential violence against students as the conflict in the Middle East ensues.

 The U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet includes specific strategies for addressing civil rights violations. School officials should carefully review and institute, where appropriate, these policies of protection

 The links below provide details on compliance with this directive, as well as the revised Civil Rights violation complaint form. Any person may file a complaint based on a perceived violation of Civil Rights protections enshrined in the historic legislation of 1964. 

 The Dear Colleague Letter


Updated Complaint Form


OCR Complaint Filing Training


Or email: OCR@ed.gov


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Career Tech Corner: It’s a New Year! Time for the CTC Organizational Meeting

Career Tech Corner: It’s a New Year! Time for the CTC Organizational Meeting


Career technical boards of education are governed by the same statute on holding the organizational meeting in January as any other board of education, but the operation and timing of CTC organizational meetings is slightly different than local, exempted village, and city school districts.

The Ohio Revised Code states simply that career technical school districts must meet during the month of January (R.C. 3313.14). In practical terms, that directive is subject to ensuring that the career-technical meeting is held after the local and exempted village boards of education meet as the boards are swearing in new members and sometimes, depending on expiring terms of office, appointing seats to the career technical board of education.

Before being appointed to the CTC board, local and exempted village board members are reminded that they may not nominate or vote for themselves when it comes to appointment to the career technical board. This is because there is a monetary benefit associated with doing so, and the Ohio Ethics Commission has issued an informal opinion on this issue.

The law on appointments to a CTC school board provides for three-year terms of office, with the member boards of education making appointments at their organizational meetings to the CTC board, if there is a need for a new appointment. Appointments may be board members on the local member board or may be someone “who has experience or knowledge regarding the labor needs of the state and region with an understanding of the skills, training, and education needed for current and future employment opportunities in the state.” (R.C. 3311.19) Preference may be given to individuals who have served as members on a joint vocational school business advisory committee.

For the appointment to the career technical board, an affirmative vote of a majority of the full board is required. Terms of office for these appointments are usually for three (3) years, except when CTC member districts are even-numbered and the plan filed with ODE provides for a additional member to be appointed from the member districts on a rotating basis. Those additional rotating member’s terms are for one year. The CTC plan filed with the Ohio Department of Education will control on this issue.

New board members should receive a copy of the CTC plan document. The organizational meeting is a good time to refresh everyone on any particular provisions of the CTC plan with regard to appointing vacancies or other governance issues as part of onboarding training.

Once the organizational meeting convenes, the CTC board must do the actual organizational business of electing a president and vice-president of the board. Here, members may nominate (and vote for) themselves as they are already appointed to the CTC board.

A second is not required on a motion to nominate someone for board president or vice-president unless the district has a local rule requiring it. Seconding a motion to nominate someone is sometimes done ceremonially as well, but it is not required. The votes to appoint a president and vice-president require an affirmative votes of a majority of the full board, so it may necessary to caucus until such a majority may be obtained.

Questions have arisen regarding a situation when a CTC board member who is appointed from the local board loses their local board of education election, and whether those members may continue in their terms. Generally, once the appointment is made, that member may continue on in their three-year term of office on the CTC.

Other organizational business includes setting regular meetings for the year. All meetings set at the organizational meeting are regular meetings of the board, and there may be more than one regular meeting a month. Board of education are required to meet only once every two months by law. (R.C. 3313.15). CTC boards may also utilize special and emergency meetings.

If you have questions about the organizational meeting, its regular business, appointments or the Sunshine law and how it applies to your CTC, please contact your EB counsel.