LAW 657, § 1 / Fall 2010 / 2 credits
Wednesdays, 8:00 - 9:50 p.m.
205 Library Building, Harrisburg

  Honest Lawyer

WILLIAM MARTIN SLOANE, Adjunct Professor of Law

[email protected] - (717) 249-1069 - [email protected]

Harrisburg Law and Politics Examiner



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BOOK:  Kern Alexander & M. David Alexander, American Public School Law, 7th edn. (Wadsworth, 2009)

Online Legal Dictionaries | PA Department of Education | PA Education Regulations | PA School Boards Association | The West Education Network

"When any Scholar is able to read Tully or such like classical Latin Author ex tempore, and to make and speak true Latin in verse and prose . . . and decline perfectly the paradigms of nouns and verbs in the Greek tongue, then may he be admitted into the College, nor shall any claim admission before such qualifications."

--Admissions Standards, Harvard College, c. 1650

"No person shall be registered as a student at law for the purpose of becoming entitled to admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court until he shall have satisfied the State Board of Law Examiners that he is of good moral character, and shall have passed a preliminary examination upon the following subjects:  (1) English language and literature; (2) Outlines of universal history; (3) History of England and of the United States; (4) Arithmetic, algebra through quadratics, and plane geometry; (5) Modern geography; (6) The first four books of Caesar's Commentaries, the first six books of the Aeneid, and the first four orations of Cicero against Cataline."

--Pennsylvania Rules of Court, 1902

"A general State education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body."

--John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

"The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to down dissent and originality.  That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else. . . . Their purpose, in brief, is to make docile and patriotic citizens, to pile up majorities, and to make John Doe and Richard Doe as nearly alike, in their everyday reactions and ways of thinking, as possible."

--H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)

"When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."

--Albert Shanker, President, American Federation of Teachers, 1974-97


DATE 2010
25 August
XLI-79 The Legal System
Historical Perspective of Public Schools
1 September
79-161 Role of the Federal Government
Governance of Public Schools
8 September
161-243 Church and State
15 September
243-325 School Attendance
22 September
325-407 The Instructional Program
29 September
407-489 Student Rights:  Speech, Expression, and Privacy
6 October
489-570 Student Rights:  Common Law, Constitutional Due Process, and Statutory Protections
13 October
570-654 Rights of Students with Disabilities
Tort Liability
20 October
For a free MP3 download of your instructor discussing Defamation (the element of fault) and Copyright (fair use), click here and then click "Save"
Defamation and Student Records
School District Liability
No Class:  27 October . . . . . .
3 November
735-817 Certification, Contracts, and Tenure
#11:  Monday
8 November
817-898 Teacher Rights and Freedoms
Due Process Rights of Teachers
10 November
898-981 Discrimination in Employment
17 November
982-1063 Collective Bargaining
Desegregation of Public Schools
No Class:  24 November . . . . . .
1 December
1063-1143 School Finance
School Property and Buildings
No Class:  8 December . . . . . .
15 December, 6:00 p.m. 170 & 172 Administration Building Final Examination

SCOPE AND EMPHASIS:  The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the legal environment of public schools (primarily K-12), including federal constitutional rights, federal statutory mandates, and state legislative control.

REQUIREMENTS:  (1)  Because this is the two-credit version of this course, students are responsible for reading only the principal cases in the casebook.  Students should be prepared to recite on these cases according to the above schedule.  (2)  Students should register on the TWEN page for this course so as to facilitate interaction.  (3)  Students will take a traditional, in-class, closed-book final examination consisting of three essay questions, each weighted equally.  The questions will be based on issues raised in the principal cases and/or class discussion.

ATTENDANCE:  The ABA and Widener University policy is that students must attend at least 11.0 classes without exception.  No excuses can be accepted for failing to meet this residency requirement.  Anyone who misses 3.1 or more classes will receive a course grade of "W"; the instructor will endeavor, but does not guarantee, to notify students who are approaching this limit.  Arriving late or leaving early is counted as a partial absence (i.e., every 11 minutes or major fraction thereof = 0.1 cut).  A student who misses the roll call at the beginning of class is irrebuttably presumed to be absent unless he/she makes his/her presence known to the instructor immediately after class.

COMMUNICATION:  Students are encouraged to contact the instructor at any time, either privately via email or phone, or publicly via the TWEN bulletin board for the course.  Individual meetings can be arranged at a mutually convenient time and place.

GRADING:  The course grade will be determined by the grade received on the final examination, which may be raised or lowered by one grade (e.g., from B+ to A-, or from C to C-) on the basis of the student's class participation.  The instructor will be available next spring to review the final exams with any student who is interested and to suggest means for improvement in writing successful essay answers.

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