Friday Roundup: The Day of Silence, FMLA, and Racial Diversity in Lynn, Mass.

By Mark Walsh — April 18, 2008 1 min read
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How’s that for a mix? Your School Law Blogger has been busy this week, what with Pope Benedict XVI tying up traffic here in Washington and other events. So here are some unrelated items:

Day of Silence: The annual protest in schools for tolerance of gay students takes place next Friday, April 25. I have this story in next week’s Education Week about the event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and about counter events, particularly the Day of Truth sponsored by the Alliance Defense Fund, which is held on the school day after the Day of Silence. The story mentions a case pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit about a student seeking an injunction to wear a “Be Happy, Not Gay” T-shirt in response to the day of silence. The court heard arguments earlier this month on an expedited basis, and several lawyers said they were expecting a ruling before this year’s protest days.

Family and Medical Leave Act: Speaking of the 7th Circuit, a panel of that court this week revived the lawsuit of a school district bookkeeper who lost her job after missing numerous days of work to care for her ailing parents.
“The actions of the school board and the superintendent during [the bookkeeper’s] period of FMLA leave ... raise serious questions about their reason for discharging her,” the appeals panel said in Lewis v. School District No. 70.

Racial Diversity in Lynn: I’m a little behind the curve on this, but there was an interesting U.S. District Court ruling last week regarding the Lynn, Mass., school district’s race-conscious student assignment policy. The district judge rejected a request to reopen the Lynn case in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, which restricted the permissible uses of race in assigning students to schools.
“In denying this motion, the Court expresses no view whatsoever as to whether Parents Involved would require a finding that the Lynn Plan is unconstitutional,” said the March 31 ruling by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner in Comfort v. Lynn School Committee. (Thanks to the NSBA’s Legal Clips for the tip.)
Education Week last reported on the Lynn case here, and my former colleague Karla Scoon Reid visited Lynn in 2004 to see how the plan works.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.