FASA Legalese
October 2013
Florida Association of School Administrators
(850) 224-3626
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Florida Association of School Administrators
New Florida Law Requires Public Records Provisions in Public Contracts
Effective July 1, 2013, every public agency contract for services must include provisions that require contractor compliance with Florida's public records law. The required provisions that must be included in public contracts are as follows:
  • Keep and maintain public records that ordinarily and necessarily would be required by the public agency in order to perform the service;
  • Provide the public with access to public records on the same terms and conditions that the public agency would provide the records and at a cost that does not exceed the cost provided in this chapter or as otherwise provided by law;
  • Ensure that public records that are exempt or confidential and exempt from public records disclosure requirements are not disclosed except as authorized by law;
  • Meet all requirements for retaining public records and transfer, at no cost, to the public agency all public records in possession of the contractor upon termination of the contract and destroy any duplicate public records that are exempt or confidential and exempt from public records disclosure requirements. All records stored electronically must be provided to the public agency in a format that is compatible with the information technology systems of the public agency.
"Public agency" is defined to include "a state, county, district, authority, or municipal officer, or department, division, board, bureau, commission, or other separate unit of government created or established by law."  "Contractor" includes "an individual, partnership, corporation, or business entity that enters into a contract for services with a public agency and is acting on behalf of the public agency as provided under F.S. 119.011(2)."

The new Florida law is available HERE.
Former Employees Prevail in Hostile Work Environment Action Against Alabama State University
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed summary judgment in favor of three former employees against Alabama State University (ASU). The case, Weatherly v. Alabama State University, involved allegations that ASU retaliated against and subjected three employees to a hostile work environment. While the Court's opinion sets forth a lengthy factual background supporting its findings, the Court's conclusion is quite harsh against ASU, its leadership, and its legal counsel. In this regard, the Court stated as follows:

We are left to speculate who is in charge at ASU.  Regardless, however, we are unnerved by the apparent acquiescence to, if not outright condoning of, the abusive work environment created by its high-level employees. Such conduct simply has no place in a work environment, especially at a publicly funded university. Additionally, we are troubled by ASU's attorneys' inability to adhere to court procedures and deadlines.

A courts opinion is available HERE.
In This Issue
New Florida Law for Public Contracts
Hostile Work Environment Action
Misplaced Student Not Protected Under IDEA
FDOE Issues Guidance on Parent Meetings
Assistive Technology Devices for Students with Disabilities
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Third Circuit Rules Misplaced Student Not Protected Under IDEA and Adopts Deliberate Indifference Standard in Section 504/ADA Claims for Compensatory Damages
On September 5, 2013, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order in S.H. v. Lower Merion School District holding that a mother and her disabled child failed to state a claim under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In S.H., Plaintiffs alleged that the School District misdiagnosed S.H. as disabled for several years. Plaintiffs sought compensatory education under the IDEA and compensatory damages under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In dismissing Plaintiffs' IDEA claim, the Court held that the IDEA only permits a child with a disability to bring a claim. Since Plaintiffs alleged S.H. was misdiagnosed as disabled, she could not sustain her claim (i.e. she admitted she was not disabled).  

With respect to Plaintiffs' Section 504 and ADA claims, the Court recognized that whether to apply the discriminatory animus or deliberate indifference standard was a matter of first impression in the Third Circuit. The Court decided to follow the majority view that a showing of deliberate indifference may satisfy a claim for compensatory damages under Section 504 and the ADA. The Court further relied on Eleventh Circuit case law in holding that deliberate indifference satisfies the requirement to establish intentional discrimination. The School District ultimately prevailed.

The courts opinion is available HERE.
Florida Department of Education Issues Guidance and Model Form Related to Implementation of Senate Bill 1108
Senate Bill 1108, effective July 1, 2013, prohibits certain actions with respect to parent meetings with school district personnel, requires the use of parental consent forms for specified actions in a student's individual education plan, and encourages the collaboration of public and private instructional personnel and providing requirements. As school districts work to implement the provisions of the bill, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) published guidance and answers to frequently asked questions. Of importance, FDOE published a model form relating to parental input and meetings. FDOE also clarified that the model form (or school district created form) must be used at all meetings related to issues that may affect a student's educational environment, discipline, or placement (not just meetings with ESE students).

The FDOE's guidance materials are available HERE.

 

Florida Department of Education Issues Technical Assistance Paper Addressing Assistive Technology Devices for Students with Disabilities   
On August 21, 2013, FDOE issued Technical Assistance Paper (TAP) 2013-65 in order to provide information regarding assistive technology as defined in the IDEA. The TAP also addresses the revisions to F.S. 1003.575. According to FDOE, the TAP is designed to provide technical assistance to help IEP teams with the following:
  • Consideration of assistive technologies;
  • Assisting students in the selection, acquisition and use of assistive technologies;
  • Understanding timelines regarding some assistive technology services;
  • Identifying resources to support the use of assistive technologies to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE); and
  • Understanding transition of assistive technology.
The FLDOE's Technical Assistance Paper is available HERE.
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