Written by: Eric Hoffman, Esq. In September 2014, Lanier Career Academy (Gainesville, Ga.) student Devon Major was arrested and charged with threatening to commit a crime of violence after school officials were alerted to a Facebook post by Major. In the post Major wrote: Bruh, LCA [Lanier Career Academy] ain’t a school. Stop coming here. All y’all ain’t going to graduate early. Why? Because there are too many of y’all f**kers to even get on a computer. I swear, and there’s so much drama here now, Lord, please save me before o [sic] get the chopper out and make Columbine look childish. [Note: “chopper” is a slang term for an assault rifle] The student admitted to making the statement, and he was subsequently charged with violating O.C.G.A. 16-11-37(a), Georgia’s then existing terroristic threats statute for threatening to commit a crime of violence against another “in reckless disregard of causing such…       Read More

Written by: Eric A. Hoffman, Esq. On May 4, 2017, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the current campus carry bill into law after previously vetoing a similar bill in 2016. The law will allow people with valid gun permits to carry concealed weapons on Georgia’s public colleges in certain areas. Governor Deal vetoed a similar bill in 2016 after Georgia lawmakers refused Deal’s request to limit the right to carry in “sensitive areas” of campuses. However, in 2017, advocates conceded to Deal’s requests leading the way to its passage. House Bill 280 prohibits guns from on-campus child care centers, faculty and administrative offices, and disciplinary hearings. The law also prohibits guns from: any building or property used for sporting events; any student housing; and certain specialized classroom space. In signing the bill into law, Deal stated, “At the present time, assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well…       Read More

Written by: Andrea L. Jolliffe, Esq. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided an important special education case on March 22, 2017. In Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, SCOTUS ruled on how much benefit Individualized Education Programs (IEP) must provide to students.   Many are wondering whether the decision is a game changer for special education.  Andrea L Jolliffe, a partner in the HBS Education Practice Group, has prepared a Q&A to provide guidance on important aspects of the decision to Georgia school districts: What was the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court in Endrew? Endrew F. is a student with autism who attended the Douglas County School District from preschool through fourth grade and had multiple interfering behaviors. The IEP proposed in fifth grade largely carried over the same basic goals and objectives from previous years. The parents removed Endrew from school, enrolled him in a private school…       Read More

Written by: Eric A. Hoffman, Esq. In a January 9, 2017 opinion, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that an Atlanta Public School teacher was entitled to official immunity in a wrongful death suit filed by a student’s parents. The case, Barnett v. Atlanta Indep. School System, stemmed from an incident that occurred when the teacher left her classroom unattended for a brief period of time to use the restroom. In upholding immunity for the teacher, the Court relied on Georgia precedent that decisions regarding student supervision are discretionary in nature and thus provide for official immunity. On October 14, 2008, teacher Phyllis Caldwell was a teacher for the at Benjamin E. Mays High School in West Atlanta. At about 2:45 p.m., Caldwell left the classroom and asked the teacher of the neighboring classroom to “look out” for and listen for any issues from her class, which she had reportedly…       Read More

Written by: Eric Hoffman, Esq. On Monday October 31, 2016, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously held that firearms cannot be carried onto public K-12 school property unless the licensed gun owner is picking up or dropping off a student. In GeorgiaCarry.org v. Code Revision Commission, the Court, in an opinion by Chief Justice Hugh Thompson, upheld a Fulton County Judge’s dismissal of a suit filed by GeorgiaCarry to challenge a decision of Georgia’s Code Revision Commission restricting such use. At issue were two bills passed by the Georgia legislature in 2014. Both bills attempted to amend O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127.1 to allow licensed gun owners to carry firearms onto school property. House Bill 826 allowed registered gun owners to carry guns onto school property without limitation, while House Bill 60 limited the time that guns could be carried onto K-12 public school property to drop off and pick up. Governor Nathan…       Read More

Dominating a fair segment of the legal world at the moment, transgender issues extend deeply into the worlds of both the public and private sectors.  Employment discrimination, accommodations, equal treatment in business dealings – the list goes on. Probably no one sector is more affected by the emergence of these modern issues than the world of education.  Here, we see all the issues being addressed by everyone else plus those issues unique to our setting.  The world continues to change. This note briefly advises on recent developments from the Feds and courts in transgender issues in the schools. FROM THE DEPARTMENTS OF EDUCATION AND JUSTICE On May 13, 2016, the United States Departments of Justice and Education issued their joint “Dear Colleague letter” (“DCL”) directed at all educational institutions receiving federal funding.  The agencies’ letter provides that the Title IX prohibitions against sex discrimination in educational programs specifically extends to…       Read More