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The U.S. Supreme Court last week let stand a financial sanction against a Texas man and his lawyer whose suit against a school district over a student drug search was held by a lower court to be frivolous.

The High Court on June 1 refused to hear the appeals of Don Gladden and William F. Jennings over the sanction imposed on them by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The case stems from the Joshua Independent School District's use of drug-sniffing dogs to search for illegal drugs in student cars.

Mr. Jennings's daughter refused to allow officials to search her car after a dog signaled the possibility of drugs. Mr. Jennings, himself a law enforcement officer, had instructed his daughter not to allow any search.

The school brought in the police, who obtained a warrant to search the car, but found no drugs. Mr. Jennings then sued the school district and two security contractors who aided in the search over the constitutionality of the drug-search policy.

The defendants won the lawsuit, then sought the recovery of their legal costs under Rule 11 of the federal rules of civil procedure, which bars lawsuits filed in bad faith. The judge ruled that Mr. Jennings' lawsuit was frivolous and that he and his lawyer, Mr. Gladden, should split the defendants' costs of approximately $85,000.

The appellate court later agreed that there was no basis for the lawsuit, but it reduced the sanction to about $21,500, of which some $8,715 would go to the school district. The appeals were Jennings v. Joshua Independent School District (Case No. 91-1610), and Gladden v. Joshua Independent School District (No. 91-1611).

The Education Department has endorsed a reorganization of its office of postsecondary education.

The department is awaiting approval from the Association of Federal Government Employees, the union that represents the agency's workers.

In the works for several months, the reorganization does not call for any changes as yet to the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the assistant secretary's office, among others, according to an executive summary released last week by Carolynn Reid-Wallace, the assistant secretary for postsecondary education.

Most of the reorganization will take place among the offices that guide and manage student financial aid programs. It is designed to increase oversight of lenders, guarantors, institutions, and accreditors; reform the financial management of the programs; and improve data collection.

Vol. 11, Issue 38, Page 21

Published in Print: June 10, 1992, as Capital Digest
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