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United States Supreme Court Opens the Door for Special Education Students’ Right to Bypass Due Process Hearings When Also Suing School District for Money Damages Under ADA: Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, 598 U.S. ___(2023)

In a unanimous ruling issued on March 21, 2023, the United States Supreme Court decided in favor of a 27-year-old deaf student who sued his Michigan school district, claiming he was denied the services of a qualified interpreter for years, and was misled by teachers and administrators about his progress in school. The student, Miguel Perez, only sought monetary damages. The Court held that he was free to sue the district for money damages due to discrimination under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Court found that he did not have to “exhaust his administrative remedies,” prior to bringing such an action for damages. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies in a case involving the rights of a disabled student requires a litigant to file and complete a due process hearing before an agency like the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) on all claims stemming from a school district’s requirement to provide a student with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

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CIVILITY IS DEAD – THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT RULES MUNICIPAL CONTROL OF PUBLIC SPEAK LIMITED TO REASONABLE TIME/PLACE/MANNER RESTRICTIONS

On March 7, 2023, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in the highly anticipated Barron v. Kolenda and the Town of Southborough (SJC-13284) case. The case brought a constitutional challenge to the Town of Southborough’s (“Southborough”) public comment policy (the “policy”), which imposed a code of civility on members of the public who participated in so-called “public speak” before Southborough boards and committees. In its decision, the Court ruled that Southborough’s policy violated Articles 16 and 19 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

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THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES AND THE H-1B PROCESS FOR EMPLOYERS TO HIRE WORKERS FROM ABROAD

Migrants and workers from abroad have been a vital part of the success and growth of the United States since its inception. Indeed, many of our ancestors came from abroad and contributed to shaping our nation’s history. We recognize the many benefits that migration has brought to our country, the talent, knowledge and expertise that workers abroad have brought to our economy, and that the United States would not be the world leader it is today without its diverse workforce.

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COMMON-SENSE GUN CONTROL

Gun violence has darkened the doorstep of college campuses, elementary schools, grocery stores, malls, movie theaters, and churches across the United States. Stories of mass shootings have become a familiar part of the news cycle, the recent tragedy at Michigan State University being just one of approximately eighty shootings as of mid-February. But this epidemic is far from inescapable. While no single, simple solution exists, states that have common-sense gun control laws continue to rank lowest in gun violence and gun-related death.

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NLRB MARKS RETURN TO HEIGHTENED SCRUTINY OF EMPLOYEE SEVERANCE AGREEMENTS

On February 21, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) issued a decision significantly limiting the use of general confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses in severance and similar agreements with employees. The Board, in McLaren Macomb, 372 N.L.R.B. No. 58, found that an employer violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “Act”) when it offered severance agreements to employees that contained broad non-disparagement and confidentiality provisions. In doing so, the NLRB overruled two 2020 decisions that had afforded employers greater leeway with the drafting, use, and offering of similar agreements.

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MHTL STANDS FOR GOOD POLICING

“When you see these types of severe, blatant misconduct, that really has an impact on all police officers.” Those words were spoken by Chief John Carmichael of the Newton Police Department in reaction to the recent release of footage showing several Memphis police officers beating an unarmed black man: Tyre Nichols. Nichols would later die from his wounds in the hospital, sparking yet another moment of reckoning for law enforcement across the country.

To say it has been a difficult time over these last few years would be an understatement, and it would ignore the decades of trauma that preceded the current spotlight on law enforcement. However, in the wake of this most recent tragedy, it is important to reflect on where we are, how far we have come, and where we want to be.

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INCORPORATING THE NEW STUDENT DISCIPLINE LAW INTO STUDENT HANDBOOKS AND SCHOOL POLICIES

Chapter 177 of Acts of 2022, “An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health,” signed into law on August 10, 2022, made significant changes to student discipline law, Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71, Section 37H3/4.

According to the revised Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71, Section 37H3/4, school principals or their designee, before issuing any disciplinary consequences under Section 37H3/4, must consider alternative methods to re-engage the student in the learning process and cannot suspend a student until alternative remedies have been employed and the use and results of such remedies have been documented.

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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 corporate and real estate law. Ms. North is one of the firm’s lead attorneys in the municipal practice department. Congratulations to both Attorneys McNulty and North.   Formerly corporate counsel at a large Massachusetts Community Read More

Legal Updates

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 corporate and real estate law. Ms. North is one of the firm’s lead attorneys in the municipal practice department. Congratulations to both Attorneys McNulty and North.   Formerly corporate counsel at a large Massachusetts Community Read More

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