School Law

Court of Appeal Makes It More Difficult for Local Agencies Other than Cities to Obtain Voter Approval of Parcel Taxes

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With increasing frequency in the last several years, school districts around the state have been relatively successful in obtaining voter approval of parcel taxes.  The First District Court of Appeal's recent decision in Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 135 is significant because absent legislative action it will constrain the ability of school districts, special districts, and counties-but not cities-to get parcels taxes approved by the voters.

Borikas involved a parcel tax imposed by the Alameda Unified School District.  The tax, which received the requisite two-thirds voter approval, was levied on property at differential rates: residential parcels and commercial parcels of less than 2000 square feet paid $120 per year and commercial parcels of greater than 2000 square feet paid $0.15 per square foot per year, capped at $9500.  The plaintiff commercial property owner argued that the District's tax measure violated Government Code section 50079's requirement that school district special taxes "apply uniformly to all taxpayers or all real property."  The Court of Appeal agreed with the plaintiff and held that Government Code section 50079 does not authorize school districts to impose special taxes that differentially tax property within the district.

Unconstitutional Strip Search Does Not Strip School Officials of Qualified Immunity

The United States Supreme Court ruled last week in Safford Unified School District #1, et al. v. Redding that a school official's search of a thirteen-year-old student's bra and underpants violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. But in a second part of the opinion with significance beyond the school setting, the Court held that the officials were entitled to qualified immunity, as the unconstitutionality of such a search was not "clearly established" when they conducted it. This decision is important to all public officials who may assert a qualified immunity defense, because it reaffirms the rule that the official must be on notice that her conduct violates a clearly established right before she can be subjected to a lawsuit, or, ultimately, liability. Read more here.

UC Davis Settles Gender Bias Lawsuit

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The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that UC Davis recently settled a gender bias lawsuit filed by three current and former female athletes. According to the article, the settlement agreement -- which needs to be approved by a Federal Court Judge -- will require the University to reach specific proportions of male and female athletes by the 2019-2020 school year. To read more about the lawsuit and settlement terms click here.

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