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The Instructional Program

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1 The Instructional Program
Chapter 11 School Law and Public Schools, 2008 Nathan L. Essex

2 Control of Public Schools
The U.S. Constitution makes no reference to education. The Tenth Amendment places responsibility on each state to provide free public schools. The legal authority for defining the curriculum of public schools is the state legislature, in a few states, it is the state legislature and the state board of education. State v. Harworth established the state’s responsibility for public education.

3 Compulsory Attendance
Every state requires children between certain ages, usually 6-16 years old to attend public, private or home school. The parent has an obligation to the child and state to ensure that the child receives an appropriate education. Exceptions: Wisconsin v. Yoder-the state’s interest regarding universal and compulsory education is by no means absolute to the exclusion or subordination of all other interests. The First Amendment prohibits state action that interferes with a parent’s right to control the religious upbringing of his or her child. Additionally, married students who are emancipated and are no longer under their parents’ care.

4 Attendance Every state requires that children between 6 or 7 and 16 or 17 attend public, private or home school. Parents who fail to get their children to school face criminal charges. One exception to the attendance requirements are if a student has a religious belief that conflicts continuing education as in Wisconsin vs. Yoder. Yoder was Amish and stopped schooling after 8th grade. Another exception may be if a student is married and no longer under their parents’ care. Students who are home schooled are required to meet standards for curriculum and instruction, length of instruction, and days in which instruction should be provided.

5 Residence Schools generally are required to educate students who reside within the districts boundaries. Residence is a student’s actual dwelling place. Domicile is where the student intends to remain indefinitely. A student’s domicile follows that of his or her legal guardian. If the child is emancipated the domicile is determined by where the student intends to remain indefinitely.

6 Curriculum Curriculum standards, such as courses offered and achievement required, are based through state policy. Local schools may develop other standards as long as they do not contradict state requirements. State legislation requires that certain subjects be included in school curricula such as American history. However, the specifics are left to be decided by local school districts. Many schools fear teaching the Bible due to possible lawsuits. However, many Bible classes are being offered at public schools throughout the United States (see Some guidelines for Bible use include teaching objectively and in a strict secular manner, instructing teachers on how and what to teach, and formulating policies for teachers, students, and parents to follow.

7 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
There are four guiding principles: stronger accountability, increased flexibility, expanded options and improved instruction. States must insure that students are tested in math and reading by school year. By 2007, state must insure that students are tested at least one annual assessment in science in at least one grade level: 3-5, 6-9 and States must set and then meet adequate yearly progress toward the goal of having children meet proficiency levels in core subjects by the year Schools that fail to meet AYP face sanctions including offering supplemental services, transportation or restructuring.

8 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
Districts have flexible use of funds and may transfer up to 50 percent of the funding they receive under the four major state grant programs (Teacher Quality state grants, Educational Technology state grants, Innovative Programs, and Safe and Drug-Free Schools) to any one of the program or to Title I.

9 Grading and Academic Requirements
Courts generally are reluctant to interfere in cases involving academic matters as they feel educators are better equipped to evaluate students. The state does however have the authority to set graduation requirements and check student competencies based on standardized tests. Courts will typically support the schools in grade reduction in relation to student absences as long as the policies are reasonable and do not violate the state’s attendance statute. School districts may use grade reduction for misbehavior as long as a relationship is shown between the misconduct and their classroom work. Students are to be awarded a diploma if he or she has met the academic requirements for graduation. However, a student may be denied participation in the graduation ceremony if misconduct has occurred.

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