Articles Posted in Education Law

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"J.H." appealed an adjudication that she was a child in need of care and supervision (CHINS) for being "habitually and without justification truant from compulsory school attendance." J.H. contended: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the findings; and (2) the court improperly shifted the burden of proof on the question of whether she was habitually truant "without justification." The only witness was a Bennington County deputy sheriff who testified that he served as the County's truancy officer. The officer testified that he ended up transporting J.H. to school on two subsequent days in January. On the third occasion, the officer served a "truancy notice," the purpose of which was to warn a parent or guardian that a truancy case could be brought if their child is continually absent. The officer went to the home twice more in January (the fourth and fifth visits that month) but there was no response from anyone at the residence. At the conclusion of the officer's testimony, J.H.'s counsel moved to dismiss the petition, asserting that the evidence was insufficient to establish that J.H. was habitually truant. The trial court denied the motion, finding that five truancy reports within "a matter of weeks . . . meet[s] the definition of being habitually not at school."  The court also observed it had "no evidence . . . of justification for [J.H.] not being in school." Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed that the record evidence was fundamentally insufficient to establish that J.H. was truant on the days alleged. "Inasmuch as the evidence here was plainly insufficient under [33 V.S.A. 5102(3)(D)], we are compelled to conclude that the adjudication of CHINS based on truancy must be reversed." View "In re J. H." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed a superior court order affirming the University of Vermont's denial of his application for in-state tuition status. He raised a host of challenges to the court's ruling, arguing primarily that it was inconsistent with the court's finding that plaintiff was domiciled in Vermont. Plaintiff moved to Vermont in 2007 to enroll as an undergraduate at the University of Vermont ("University" or "UVM"). He paid the out-of-state tuition rate through the first three years of his undergraduate studies, and first applied for in-state tuition status in June 2010. In his application he stated that, although he first came to Vermont to attend UVM, he chose to permanently relocate to Vermont because he loved the area and intended to reside in Burlington after graduating. UVM denied the application, citing several pertinent provisions of UVM's In-State Status Regulations. In his administrative appeal, plaintiff reiterated that he came to UVM because of the reputation of its pre-medical program and medical school, and he explained that during his freshman year he was accepted into a premedical program that leads to automatic acceptance to UVM medical school for students who complete the program. Plaintiff also explained that, although he needed only one more course to complete his graduation requirements, he was seeking in-state tuition status to enable him to take additional electives in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011 to become "a more diversified medical school applicant." UVM denied his administrative appeal. In light of the review standards the University used in denying Plaintiff's appeal, the Supreme Court concluded Plaintiff's reliance on the superior court's "finding" was misplaced: "[f]or our purposes here, the critical findings are those of the University, not the trial court. UVM was the adjudicator of the facts in this matter, and the record is clear that it employed the original version of Regulation 3, which both parties agree governed plaintiff's application." Moreover, UVM made no finding as to plaintiff's common-law domicile, but rather concluded on the basis of its review of the record that plaintiff did not establish by clear and convincing evidence that he was eligible for in-state tuition. The Court concluded that the record contained ample competent evidence to support the University's determination, and affirmed the superior court's judgment. View "Roberts v. University of Vermont" on Justia Law