SCOPE OF THE FIELD
Education law encompasses a wide variety of topics:
tort liability and discipline issues relating to supervision of students’ physical and educational needs by the school district, administrators, teachers, principals, staff, and other students;
special education issues relating to appropriate treatment, discipline and individualized education program (IEP) for students with various learning disabilities;
first amendment issues relating to the separation of church and state, establishment clause, private schools, their obligations and funding, use of vouchers, free speech, school prayer, school dress codes;
fourth amendment issues relating to searches of student lockers and other areas, seizure of evidence found during those searches, criminal activity of students while at school or school functions, weapons and student or outsider violence at school, illegal drug activity; bullying, school safety;
discrimination issues, including affirmative action, sexual harassment between teachers and students or peer-to-peer, gender equity, especially relating to sports programs;
educational equity, relating to funding adequate and equal education for all students, regardless of the economic condition of the neighborhood and school;
educational policy and reform, which concerns the way our government values, funds, and tests students’ education achievement and teacher preparedness, trends to improve the system, and the school choices available to parents and students;
individualized school policy relating to many issues which helps direct teacher and administrative procedure and behavior in certain defined situations;
intellectual freedom, copyright issues relating to print or online materials, distance learning issues, privacy issues, especially in the digital environment;
teacher and staff employment, labor, academic freedom and tenure issues; and
higher education issues unique to colleges, universities and graduate schools.
See the 2010 Deskbook Encyclopedia of American School Law, REFERENCE KF4114.D47 for a brief discussion of many of these issues, with reference to applicable state and federal appellate court decisions.
THE NATURE OF AN EDUCATION LAW COLLECTION
The general law library materials, such as the statutes, regulations, court reporters, legal encyclopedias, American Law Reports, non- education law treatises and legal periodicals provide coverage of these education issues within their specific scope and context. This guide, however, does not focus on these general tools, but rather on the specialized tools which exists and deal primarily with education law issues.
Compared to many other areas in a law library collection, and especially considering the broad scope of the field as discussed in the first paragraph, there are surprisingly few materials which focus on education law topics. Although there are a few specialized treatise materials for the attorney interested in education law issues, many of the materials are written for the layperson…the teacher or principal who is trying to figure out what the law is so that he or she can comply with it. West Group offers a few basic titles, and LRP Publishers offers some materials for the practitioner and many for teachers, especially strong in special education law. Matthew Bender offers the only comprehensive treatise in the field. Individual associations publish more materials; the Education Law Association (formerly National Organization on Legal Problems in Education (NOLPE)) produces a variety of useful short works on a variety of practical topics. A few of the practitioner’s titles are loose-leaf and updated, but the lay person’s titles are not usually updated. They are inexpensive, though, and occasionally new editions do appear. There are other miscellaneous publishers which offer coverage of other education issues. The Department of Education produces relatively few documents through the U.S. Federal Depository Program. And, as mentioned below, searching the legal periodicals, both general journals and those focused on specifically on education, is a particularly productive research source since they provide a broad and rich coverage for many issues, and especially for current issues.
CONSTITUTION, STATUTES, REGULATIONS AND GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS
FEDERAL: Most federal statutes relating to education are in 20 U.S.C. Federal regulations relating to education promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education are in 34 C.F.R.
See The United States Government Manual, REFERENCE JK421.A3, or through http://www.archives.gov/federal-register, for the official handbook of the government, which gives flow charts and other information about federal government agencies. For more detailed federal agency information, see the Federal Regulatory Directory, 13th ed., REFERENCE KF5406.A15F4.
The Department of Education website: http://www.ed.gov/, links to the statutes, regulations and guidance documents related to the topics given on the website, linked through the federal agency section of http://library.law.unh.edu/quickclicks.
Both West Group and LEXIS Publishing annually offer separate print compilations containing the selected text of relevant statutes, regulations and guidance documents.
Levin, Michael I., ed. 2009 United States School Laws and Rules. [Eagan, MN:] West Group, 2009. 2 vols. RESERVE KF 4105.99.U55
This publication contains many authorities relevant to education law: U.S. Constitutional provisions, selected federal statutes (most of 20 USC and selected other federal statutes relating to labor, tax, discrimination, etc.), selected regulations (much of 34 CFR and other selected regulations relating to agriculture, labor, discrimination, transportation, etc.) and many guidance documents relating to education law.
Federal Education Laws and Regulations. Charlottesville, VA: LEXIS Publishing, 2001 Edition. (We no longer have.)
GUIDELINES OR GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS are internal agency documents which represent the federal Department of Education’s interpretation of the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, frequently in the context of specific facts. They are sometimes very specific and detailed, providing formulas and illustrations to help school administrators, teachers and parents understand legal requirements relating to education. They are not legally binding and do not impose any requirements beyond those given in the statutes and regulations. However, they do represent the agency’s current thinking on a particular topic and are a valuable secondary source. They are issued by the U.S. Department of Education and published in the Federal Register and are also published in some of the more complete education law treatises. Generally, they are not published in the Code of Federal Regulations. They are published selectively in the West compilation mentioned above and they are available from the Department of Education website.
STATE: The publishers of the state statutes frequently offer similar selected education law annual statute volumes on the state level for the most of the state statutory sets which it publishes, which is merely an extraction of selected statutes from the full state statute publication. For example, New Hampshire has New Hampshire Education Laws Annotated (in REFERENCE collection at the end of the N.H. Revised Statutes Annotated), an annual publication providing a handy one volume copy of state education laws.
ONLINE: WESTLAW and LEXIS offer topical databases in education law. These provide extractions from the general databases of federal statutes, regulations, other administrative authorities, cases, and secondary authorities relating to education law. It does not appear that either of these cover the Department of Education’s guidance documents separately, although they should be included in the Federal Register coverage within this topical database. These databases also cover state statutes and case law relating to education.
JUDICIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE CASES
West’s Education Law Reporter. St. Paul, MN: West Pub. Co., 1982 to date. KF4110 .A2W47
Covers federal and state appellate judicial cases and American Tribal Law Court cases which are also published in the National Reporter System, decisions from the U.S. Department of Education (since 1990); each volume also includes a few periodical-type articles on education law topics. Some book spines in random volumes of the reporter shows presence of a cumulative index to these periodical articles. Each volume (since 1990 ) also contains a cumulative index to the Department of Education decisions. Kept up to date with advance sheets, in typical West Group fashion. The page numbers to the NRS version of the cases appears at the top of the page, and the page numbers to the Education Law Reporter version appears in brackets at the bottom of each page.
Education Law Reporter Digest. St. Paul, MN: West Pub. Co., 1983 to date. KF4110.3 .W47 1999
A complete index to all judicial cases reported in the Education Law Reporter. The predominant digest topics are Schools, Colleges and Universities, Civil Rights, and Constitutional Law, but the digest also includes coverage of other headnotes in those cases which may not be related to education topics. The digest does not include coverage of the U.S. Department of Education decisions; one must use the index found in each of the later volumes of the Education Law Reporter for access to these administrative cases. This digest does contain a Table of Cases, Words and Phrases section and a Descriptive Word Index.
ONLINE: WESTLAW and LEXIS
Although West’s Education Law Reporter is not on WESTLAW as such, all of the content is. Federal and state judicial cases relating to education topics are available in the WESTLAW Education database. These cases typically date from the earliest reported case publication, rather than from 1982, the start of coverage of the West’s Education Law Reporter. Obviously, most of these cases will include West’s topic and key numbers with the headnotes, enabling you to do a digest or topic and key number search. Doing this search in the Education database rather than generically will improve your searching since it guarantees that you always will retrieve education cases. The journal articles published in the Education Law reporter are also included in the topical WESTLAW Education database.
The topical WESTLAW Education database also includes coverage of the administrative decisions from the U.S. Department of Education, including the Office of Hearings and Appeals Decisions from 1989 and the Education Civil Rights Reviewing Authority from 1966-1997.
LEXIS’ topical Education Law Library covers federal and state judicial cases dealing with education issues, and includes coverage of the administrative cases mentioned in the previous paragraph.
There are many treatises or books on education law issues. A complete list of the Law Library’s holdings is available separately. The most comprehensive general education law treatise is:
Rapp, James A. Education Law. New York: Matthew Bender, 1984 to date. 7 volumes KF4119.E275 1984. It also is available on LEXIS.
(Volume 6 contains forms and volume 7 contains reference materials, index and tables.)
The only loose-leaf service (as distinguished from a loose-leaf treatise) in education law is:
Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Report (IDELR). Horsham, PA: LRP Pubs. This service is also on WESTLAW from 1986 to date. The Law Library has from volume 20 (1990) to date. KF4210.A6I52
The set offers the complete text of federal statutes and regulations in the special education area, the complete text or concise summaries of decisions, rulings and memoranda from federal and state courts, U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation, Office of Special Education Programs, and the USDOE Office of Civil Rights, and state educational agencies. It is indexed by topic, statute and regulation and updated 22 times a year.