School Law. Trends and Issues.
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Four subjects are the focus of this discussion of school law: sexual harassment, the copyright act, school discipline, and religion and the schools. In cases of sexual harassment of students by school personnel, a criterion for determining whether a school is liable involves the standard of "actual knowledge" in which school officials have knowledge of harassment but are "deliberately indifferent" to complaints (Gebser vs. Lago Vista Independent School District). In January 1999, the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that Title IX does not apply to cases involving peer (student-student) sexual harassment. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act may have a chilling effect on the "fair use" principle that allows teachers, librarians, and other educators to excerpt copyrighted materials in the classroom, and on distance-learning programs. The section on school discipline discusses issues surrounding student searches, the Gun-Free Schools Act, discipline for disabled students, and dangerous students. Topics involving religion and the schools include allowing public-school teachers to teach non-religious subjects to students who qualify for Title I remediation inside private, religious school classrooms; the use of public-school materials in religious schools; and religious activities in public schools. (RT)