The Swier Law Firm Education Law FAQs
Have questions? We have answers! Our South Dakota attorneys answer the questions they hear most often from clients just like you.
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Is prayer allowed at public school football or basketball games?
No. In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000), the United States Supreme Court held that a policy permitting student-led “invocations” before football games violates the Establishment Clause. The Supreme Court refused to view the expression as “private speech” because the messages were delivered over the school’s public address system by a student body member under the supervision of school faculty and under a school policy that encouraged public prayer. Under these circumstances, the Supreme Court considered the prayer to be “school-sponsored.”
When do school officials have disciplinary authority over students off school grounds?
In South Dakota, any superintendent, principal, supervisor, and teacher has disciplinary authority over all students while the students are participating in or attending school sponsored activities off school grounds.
For more information about school disciplinary authority, read Chapter 8 of The South Dakota School Law Deskbook.
In South Dakota, who has disciplinary authority over students on school grounds?
Any superintendent, principal, supervisor, and teacher has disciplinary authority over all students while the students are in school or participating in or attending school sponsored activities on school grounds.
Is a school district required to accept credits from a transfer student?
Yes. A school district must accept credits for any course completed in any other accredited school district under the open enrollment program. However, the nonresident district must award a diploma to a nonresident student only if the student satisfactorily meets its graduation requirements.
Who is a “parent” under FERPA?
Under FERPA, a “parent” means a parent of a student and includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian.
How long does a school district have to comply with a request to view education records?
FERPA requires that a school district comply with a request by a parent or eligible student for access to education records within a reasonable period of time, but not more than 45 days after receipt of a request.
May a school board prohibit a teacher from sharing his or her personal political viewpoints with students during instructional time?
Yes. The Supreme Court has stated that when public employees make statements in their official capacities, they are not speaking as public citizens for First Amendment purposes, and their comments are not isolated from regulation by the employer. Since teachers making statements during instructional time are speaking in their official capacities, the First Amendment does not protect their comments. As a result, school boards may adopt policies that prohibit employees from discussing their personal political views with students during instructional time.
Is a school district required to provide transportation to a student who transfers within the district?
No. If a student transfers from one school to another school within a school district at the request of the student’s parent or guardian, the school district is not required to provide transportation services to the student.
What is the “enrollment options program”?
In 1997, the South Dakota Legislature established the “enrollment options program,” commonly referred to as “open enrollment.” The law enables any South Dakota kindergarten through twelfth grade student to attend any public school that serves the student’s grade level in any South Dakota school district.
What is a school district’s responsibility in reviewing an open enrollment request?
A school district must grant a request for a transfer into the district or within the district unless the transfer would result in an inability to provide a quality educational program based on criteria established by the district under S.D.C.L. § 13-28-44.