Our Practice Civil Rights Defense

Students. Employees. Public activists. School districts or other school entities must be responsive to many different groups.

School entities, as local government agencies, are subject to the often-conflicting demands of constitutional and civil rights possessed by different constituents.  Additionally, the conduct of employees can be scrutinized under the lens of constitutional and civil rights analysis, resulting in both institutional and individual liability.  Defending against claims of constitutional deprivations begins with excellent legal counsel and initial risk-avoidance advice.

Our Civil Rights Defense practice overlaps with many of our other practice areas, where we have handled issues involving the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Children’s Internet Protection Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Constitutional Law.  As school leaders are frequently required to balance competing rights, the services and advice we offer go a long way to successfully navigating the byzantine maze of constitutional and civil rights.

Unfortunately, litigation still frequently occurs despite risk-avoidance measures and sound school leadership.  When our clients are sued, our firm draws on its collective years of substantive experience and teams it with our litigation experience.  Our goal is to aggressively defend our clients at all stages in the litigation process in a cost-effective and outcome driven manner. Our attorneys are proven litigators willing to fight for our clients’ interests.

We have acted as counsel in many significant cases where school leadership was challenged about decisions affecting different constituent groups.  Some of these cases include:

  • J.S. ex rel. Snyder v. Blue Mountain Sch. Dist., 650 F.3d 915 (3rd Cir. 2011) (en banc) (Section 1983 action regarding student off campus speech).
  • Busch v. Marple Newtown Sch. Dist., 567 F.3d 89 (3rd Cir. 2009) (affirming summary judgment against 1st Amendment Speech and Establishment Clause claims involving parent Bible reading).
  • Lauren W. ex. rel. Jean W. v.  DeFlaminis, 480 F.3d 259 (3rd Cir. 2007) (establishing elements of Section 504 Retaliation claim).
  • Shuman ex rel. Shertzer v. Penn Manor Sch. Dist., 422 F.3d 141 (3rd Cir. 2005) (affirming summary judgment against 4th Amendment Search and Seizure claim and Due Process claim involving student discipline).
  • Andrea Coleman-Hill v. Governor Mifflin Sch. Dist., Civ. No. 09–5525, 2013 WL 2392908 (E.D. Pa. May 31, 2013) (granting summary judgment in case of Title VII race discrimination claims).
  • Baker v. Southern York School District, Civ. No. 1:08-CV-1741, 2012 WL 6561434 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 17, 2012) (requiring deliberate indifference for money damages under Section 504).
  • Sher v. Upper Moreland Township School District, Civ. No. 11-1525, 2012 WL 6731260 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 28, 2012) (dismissing Section 504 claims based on lack of standing).
  • Watson v. Methacton Sch. Dist., 513 F. Supp. 2d 360 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (granting summary judgment against State Created Danger claim, among others, involving post-prom party).
  • K.K. v. Cumberland Valley Sch. Dist., Civil No. 1:CV-04-2290, 2007 WL 1455888 (M.D. Pa. May 15, 2007) (granting summary judgment in Section 1983 action asserting 14th Amendment right to bodily integrity).

Contact us today for help in managing civil rights issues.