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Underwood looks at Supreme Court rulings that changed direction of education policy, practice

December 13, 2018

In her most recent Under the Law column for Phi Delta Kappan magazine, UW-Madison's Julie Underwood discusses marginal decisions in the U.S. Supreme Court that changed the direction of education policy and practice. 

Underwood is the Susan Engeleiter Professor of Education Law, Policy and Practice, and is the former dean of the School of Education.

In her article, "Every votes counts — and one vote can make an historic difference," she mentions cases like "San Antonio Ind. School District v. Rodrigues (1972)," which relegated school finances to state courts, and "Board of Ed. Of Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982)," which ruled that school boards could not remove books due to disagreement with content. 

One case described by Underwood, "Goss vs. Lopez (1975)," concerned whether or not student suspensions required due process. The Supreme Court ruled that because education was a state-created right, it was subject to the federal Due Process Clause, requiring minor procedural process before a student could be suspended. According to Underwood, this is one of the most significant cases in education law, as it greatly influenced school discipline and the school-to-student relationship.

By describing these 5-4 landmark education cases, “each hinged on just one vote,” Underwood hopes to display the significance of every vote and opinion, especially in the Supreme Court.  

 Read Underwood’s latest Under the Law column here

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