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United States Supreme Court Rejects Parent’s Appeal to Video Tape Special Education Team Meetings

On June 10, 2024, the United States Supreme Court (USSC) denied Scott Pitta’s petition for writ of certiorari. This means that the lower First Circuit ruling, denying parents any claim of entitlement to video tape team meetings, or to treat team meetings as a “public forum”, stands as the law governing this area.

Attorney Peter Mello of Murphy Hesse Toomey & Lehane successfully defended the Bridgewater/Raynham School District throughout the litigation in the federal courts.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ISSUES REVISED TITLE IX REGULATIONS

On April 19, 2024, the United States Department of Education (“DOE”) issued final regulations for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”). Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. The new regulations go into effect on August 1, 2024, so school districts are encouraged to review their policies and procedures and provide staff training on these new regulations as soon as possible. The final regulations continue to list specific elements that must be included in any policy, such as range of disciplinary actions, standards of evidence, and procedures. The DOE has provided template policies here: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/resource-nondiscrimination-policies.pdf and Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane will be creating model policies and notice letters as well.

Statutory Regulations Released for Interagency Review of Complex Cases

On March 1, 2024, EOHHS and DESE released the long-awaited, final adoption of the regulations governing the Interagency Review of Complex Cases (published as 101 CMR 27.00). These regulations had been anticipated since the Massachusetts Legislature passed “An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health” in August, 2022.

The purpose of the law is the establishment of a team that will collaborate on complex cases where there is an urgent need to address a lack of consensus between state agencies about the service needs or placement of an individual. This replaces what was known as the Unified Planning Team, or “UPT”.

The co-chairs of the IRT will be the secretary (or a designee) from EOHHS and the commissioner (or a designee) of DESE.

Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP’s Two New Partners

  Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP is pleased to announce Attorneys Peter McNulty and Karis North’s promotion to Partner. MHTL is proud to have Attorneys McNulty and North as dedicated members of the firm. Mr. McNulty is one of the firm’s lead attorneys in...

New Features of Public Participation at School Committee Meetings

Following our Alert from March 16, 2023, Civility is Dead – The Supreme Court Rules Municipal Control of Public Speak Limited to Reasonable Time/Place/Manner Restrictions, which discussed the holding to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Barron v. Kolenda and the Town of Southborough (SJC-13284), we promised to bring you more detailed guidance on developing a Public Speak policy for your public body or municipality. The Barron case involved a constitutional challenge to the Town of Southborough’s public comment policy, which attempted to impose a code of civility on members of the public who participated in public comment before public bodies. In Barron, the court interpreted the state constitution to mean that public bodies may request, but not require, that public commentators be respectful and courteous. Instead, a public body may set restrictions on reasonable time, place, and manner comments to ensure that the meeting retains an orderly and peaceable manner.

The U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies and Updates the Standard for Religious Accommodations Case Overview

On June 29, 2023, in a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court redefined how employers must evaluate religious accommodation requests under federal law. In Groff v. LeJoy, Postmaster General, the Court heard a civil rights challenge under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Mr. Groff, an Evangelical Christian, and a former postal worker residing in rural southeast Pennsylvania, asserted that the United States Postal Service (USPS) impacted his ability to observe his Sunday Sabbath as a religious day of rest because they required him to work certain Sundays. The USPS denied Groff’s request for an accommodation to not work on Sundays and began to progressively discipline Groff for his continuing refusal to do so. In light of an expected termination from employment, Groff instead resigned and then brought suit against the USPS alleging violation of Title VII for failing to accommodate his religious beliefs.

Latest News

United States Supreme Court Rejects Parent's Appeal to Video Tape Special Education Team Meetings

On June 10, 2024, the United States Supreme Court (USSC) denied Scott Pitta’s petition for writ of certiorari. This means that the lower First Circuit ruling, denying parents any claim of entitlement to video tape team meetings, or to treat team meetings as a “public forum”, stands as the law governing this area. Attorney Peter Mello of Murphy Hesse Toomey & Lehane successfully defended the Bridgewater/Raynham School District throughout the litigation in the federal courts.

Legal Updates

United States Supreme Court Rejects Parent's Appeal to Video Tape Special Education Team Meetings

On June 10, 2024, the United States Supreme Court (USSC) denied Scott Pitta’s petition for writ of certiorari. This means that the lower First Circuit ruling, denying parents any claim of entitlement to video tape team meetings, or to treat team meetings as a “public forum”, stands as the law governing this area. Attorney Peter Mello of Murphy Hesse Toomey & Lehane successfully defended the Bridgewater/Raynham School District throughout the litigation in the federal courts.

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