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    Our overlawyered schools

     (Related material: see pages on disabled rights, harassment law, personal responsibility, and family law)


    Overlawyered.com commentary [through mid-June 2003. Items after that date collected here]:

    Grades and honors, 2003: "'Student sues over top title'" (N.J. valedictorian), May 3-4 (& updateMay 13: wins case); "Teachers afraid", Mar. 31; "My lawyer says I'm the valedictorian", Feb. 18; "'Student sues to get A+, not A'", Feb. 10.  2002: "Welcome Salon.com readers, Bill O'Reilly listeners", Jul. 12-14; "Welcome Fox News viewers/ readers", Aug. 2-4; "'Student gets diploma after threatening lawsuit'", Jun. 13.  2000: "Lawsuits over failing grades", Jan. 4. 1999: "You shoulda flunked me!" (suit by athlete over too-lenient grading), Dec. 27-28. 

    "Annals of zero tolerance", 2002: "Black eye for zero tolerance" (students say they found pills on school grounds), Sept. 30; "Steak knives, finger 'guns'", May 16; "'Positive nicotine test to keep student from prom'" (over-18 student, off-premises consumption), Apr. 26-28 (& update May 10-12: school backs down); "Zero tolerance leaves 'em gasping" (asthma inhalers), Apr. 8-9; "School told to rehire cocaine abuser", Mar. 20-21; "Goodbye to zero tolerance?", Jan. 25-27.  2001: "Under the Christmas tree" (toy soldiers), Dec. 21-23; "John Leo on Overlawyered.com", Aug. 15; "The rest of Justice O'Connor's speech", July 6-8 (& letters to the editor, Aug. 1); "Bagpiper prom garb" (skean dubh knife), June 21 (& letter to the editor, July 6); "Drawing pictures of weapons", May 15; "Zero tolerance spiral" (roundup), April 12; "Non-gun control" (second-graders' paper gun), March 23-25; "ABA criticizes zero tolerance", Feb. 21-22; "Pointing chicken finger", Feb. 2-4; "Fateful fiction", Jan. 30; "Gun-shaped medallion", Jan. 18; "'Boy faces jail for slapping girl's bottom'", Jan. 5-7.  2000: "U.K.: skipping, 'conkers' taboo in schoolyards", Dec. 15-17; "School now says hugs not forbidden", Oct. 4; "Tweety bird chain" (also African tribal knives case), Sept. 29-Oct. 1 (& update Oct. 4); "Kopel on zero-tolerance policies", Sept. 25-26; "'NZ kids get 'license' to play with toy guns'", Sept. 8-10; "Ease up on kids" (Salt Lake Tribune), Aug. 4-7; "Annals of zero tolerance" (six-year-old's "sexual harassment", finger guns, ABA Journal), May 22; "Kindergartners' 'bang, you're dead'", April 17; "Don't play James Bond" (fifth grader's plastic toy gun), March 28; "Scissors, teacher's beer", March 15; "Hug protest in Halifax", March 2.  1999: "Roundup", Dec. 27-28; "Weekend reading: columnist-fest" (John Leo), Dec. 11-12; "Scissors, toy-gun cases", Dec. 8; "The fateful thumb" (gunlike hand gesture), Nov. 20-21; "More nail clippers cases", Nov. 10; "Cannon shots banned" (yearbook photo posed on artillery), Oct. 30-31 (update Nov. 26-28: school relents); "Zero tolerance strikes again" (knife to cut cake), Oct. 23-24; "Dog searches of junior high lockers" (South Carolina), Oct. 15; "Annals of zero tolerance" ("Billabong" label clothing), Sept. 2 (& Sept. 8 update); "For your own good" (transparent backpacks only), August 4.

    Stop having fun, 2003: Letter to the editor, Mar. 31.  2002: "Helmets for roller skaters", Jun. 7-9; "'Remove child before folding'" (George Will on playgrounds), Jun. 5; "Overprotecting the kids", Feb. 18-19.  2001: "Dodge ball on endangered list", June 13; "By reader acclaim: 'Clowns told to get custard pie insurance'", Apr. 9. 2000: "U.K.: skipping, 'conkers' taboo in schoolyards", Dec. 15-17; "Good Humor man busted for ringing bell", Nov. 6; "'NZ kids get 'license' to play with toy guns'", Sept. 8-10; "The forbidden cookout", Jun. 2-4; "Musical chairs disapproved" (game said to encourage violence), May 24; "Dismounted" (horseback program for mentally impaired kids), May 12; "Little League lawsuits", May 3; "Gray sameness of modern playgrounds", Apr. 25-26; "Columnist-fest" (Girl Scout horseback riding disclaimer), Apr. 6; "Rise of the high school sleepover disclaimer", Mar. 22; "Girl puts head under guillotine; sues when hurt", Mar. 8.  1999: "A lovable liability risk" (principal's golden retriever), Nov. 18-19; "Seesaws as museum items" (towns sued over playgrounds), Sept. 27; "Spreading to the U.K." (schools adventure trips, etc.), Aug. 5; "For your own good" (ban on clothing or shoes that might cause students to trip; non-transparent backpacks), Aug. 4Also see pools and swimming; scary things

    School violence cases, 2002: "Florida school shooting: the deep pockets did it", Dec. 13-15.  2001: "Put the blame on games", April 24 (& see March 6, 2002: judge dismisses case).  2000: "'Just put the candy in the bag, lady'", Sept. 4; "Principal, school officials sued over Columbine massacre", Jul. 21-23 (update Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2001: judge dismisses most counts); "Columnist-fest" (Anne Roiphe), May 2; "Overlawyered schools: three views", Apr. 21-23; "Judge dismisses case blaming entertainment biz for school shootings" (Paducah case), Apr. 13.  1999: "Descent of the blame counselors", Nov. 2; "Nominated by reader acclamation" (Klebold parents sue), Oct. 18; "Censorship via (novel) lawsuit", Jul. 22.

    Special ed, disabled rights, 2003: "Letter to the editor", Jun. 20-22. 2002: "'Ex-Teach's Suit: Kids Abused Me'", Jun. 26-27 (& update Jul. 24); "Minimum GPA for study abroad said unfair to disabled", Jan. 9-10.  2001: "Connecticut to 'mainstream' retarded kids", Jul. 5 (& letter to the editor, Aug. 1); "Litigators vs. standardized tests, I: the right to conceal", Feb. 9-11. 2000: "'NCAA Can Be Sued Under ADA, Federal District Judge Rules'", Nov. 28; "Back-to-school roundup: granola bars out, Ritalin in", Aug. 29-30; "Unwanted medical duties" (care of students), June 5; "Overlawyered schools: three views" (school discipline and IDEA, etc.), Apr. 21-23; "Disabled test-accommodation roundup", Feb. 16; "Disabled accommodation in testing", Jan. 12.  1999: "After Casey Martin, the deluge" (youth soccer), Nov. 5-7 (updated Nov. 13-14); "Disabled accommodation vs. testing fairness", Sept. 21; "Death by mainstreaming" (hazards of mentally disabled 12-year-old's rights), August 31; and see disabled rights generally

    Higher ed, 2003: "MIT sued over student's nitrous-oxide death", Feb. 25.  2002: "'Rocketing liability rates squeeze medical schools'", May 28-29; "'Tilting the playing field'" (Title IX), May 14-15; "Law hurts men, women" (Title IX), Jan. 23-24; "Class action on behalf of illegal-alien college students", Jan. 11-13; "'Ex-student sentenced for rape lie'" (wants to become attorney), Jan. 11-13 (& see May 26-29, 2000: Stephen Glass graduates Georgetown Law); "Minimum GPA for study abroad said unfair to disabled", Jan. 9-10.  2001: "University official vs. web anonymity", Oct. 30; "'We often turn irresponsibility into legal actions against others'" (Robyn Blumner on U. of South Fla. art student harassment case), Aug. 13-14; "Don't rock the Coke machine", Jul. 20-22; "By reader acclaim: student sues law prof over class demonstration", June 27; "'Persistent suitor'" (criticism of academic journals' publisher), Feb. 6.  2000: "Gets no kick from football verdict" (Title IX), Nov. 3 (& Jan. 31, 2001); "Place kicker awarded $2 million", Oct. 13; "Don't talk to the humans" (human-subject experimentation rules), Sept. 1-3; "Why you can't trust letters of recommendation", Jul. 10; "Degrees of intimidation" (book on "diploma mills", Apr. 28-30; "Prof sues for right to flunk students" (Univ. of Mich.), Mar. 16; "Mormon actress sues over profanity" (says Univ. of Utah theater dept. insisted she utter foul language in scripts), Jan. 24.  1999: "Link your way to liability?" (prof sues over "course critique" website), Nov. 15; "We didn't mean those preferences!" (veterans' preferences unpopular at Berkeley), Nov. 11; and see disabled rights in education

    Sports, 2003: "Schools roundup", Apr. 9; "Sis-Boom-Sue" (cheerleading), Jan. 15-16. 2002: "'Father files suit after son fails to make MVP award'" (hockey, New Brunswick), Nov. 8-10; "Tour of the blogs" (Title IX), Sept. 24; "'Parents suing youth football league'", Aug. 28; "'Tilting the playing field'" (Title IX), May 14-15 (& Jan. 23-24); "'Before you cheer ... "Sign here"'" (cheerleading release forms), Mar. 15-17.  2001: "Federal judge rules high-school sports schedules unlawful", Dec. 24-27 (& letter to editor, Feb. 28); "'Father seeks $1.5 million after son misses varsity spot'", Dec. 13-14; "Letter to the editor" (junior varsity dance team), Sept. 3; "'Dad sues after girl fails to make cheerleading squad'", Jun. 4; "Suing the coach", May 2.  2000: "'NCAA Can Be Sued Under ADA, Federal District Judge Rules'", Nov. 28; "'Opposition to Indian mascots intensifies'", Nov. 8; "Gets no kick from football verdict" (Title IX), Nov. 3; "Place kicker awarded $2 million", Oct. 13; "'Mother sues over lack of ice time for goalie son'", Sept. 11; "Litigious varsity", Feb. 8-9.  1999: "Gimme an 'S', 'U', 'E'" (suits over failure to make cheerleading squads), Nov. 15; "After Casey Martin, the deluge" (youth soccer), Nov. 5-7 (updated Nov. 13-14); "ADA protection for boozing student athletes", Sept. 29.

    Overlawyered.com commentary:

    "Schools roundup", Apr. 9, 2003. 

    "Teachers afraid", Mar. 31, 2003.

    "Kids' art on walls ruled a fire hazard", Mar. 20, 2003.

    "Suit: schoolkids shouldn't attend rodeo", Oct. 24, 2002.

    "Cutting edge of discrimination law" (Puyallup district, Wash.), Oct. 7-8, 2002.

    "Tour of the blogs" (suit vs. statewide tests), Sept. 24, 2002.

    "Don't ban peanut butter from schools", Aug. 23-25, 2002. 

    Personnel: "Schools roundup", Apr. 9, 2003; "Convicted, but still on their teaching jobs", Jul. 10-11, 2002; "School told to rehire cocaine abuser", Mar. 20-21, 2002; "Coming soon to a school near you" (applicant with police record OK'd since no convictions), Jan. 17, 2001; "Property taxes triple after wrongful-termination suit", Dec. 20, 2000; "Reprimand 'very serious' for teacher" (had given 11-year-old girl money to buy marijuana), Jun. 27, 2000; "Victim of the century?" (misbehaving principal collects disability benefits for sexual compulsion), Jun. 2-4, 2000; "You were negligent to hire me" (undisclosed rape-related conviction), May 30, 2000. 

    "'Suits Against Schools Explore New Turf'", Jun. 19-20, 2002. 

    "Folk medicine meets child abuse reporting" ("coining" of children's skin), May 31-June 2, 2002. 

    "Letter to the editor" (sending kids home with slight sniffle), Apr. 11, 2002. 

    "'Before you cheer ... "Sign here"'", Mar. 15-17, 2002.

    "Education reforms could serve as basis for new suits", Mar. 13-14, 2002. 

    "Jail for schoolyard taunts?", Feb. 27-28, 2002. 

    "'Hot-dog choking prompts lawsuit'", Jan. 2-3, 2002. 

    "Australia: student wins millions over corporal punishment", Feb. 20, 2001 (& update Dec. 15-16); "Bankrupting Canadian churches?" (Indian residential schools), Aug. 23-24, 2000. 

    "Overlawyered schools roundup", Dec. 7-9, 2001. 

    "Educational privacy gone to extremes", June 27, 2001 (& Nov. 28, Dec. 7-9). 

    "'School sued over poor results'" (U.K.), Nov. 23-25, 2001. 

    "From the paint wars: a business's demise, a school district's hypocrisy", Nov. 13, 2001. 

    "'Teen sex offenders face years of stigma'", Nov. 5, 2001. 

    "'Never far from school halls: the lawsuit'", Oct. 10-11, 2001; "Election roundup" (Bush proposal to protect educators from lawsuits), Oct. 23, 2000; "Overlawyered classrooms" (survey of school administrators finds fear of litigation), Sept. 11-12, 1999

    "School email pranksters to Leavenworth?" (antihacking proposal), Aug. 10-12, 2001. 

    "'Airline restricts children flying alone'", Aug. 6, 2001. 

    "'Dead teen's family sues Take Our Kids To Work'", May 31, 2001. 

    "Anonymity takes a D.C. hit" (bill to ban anonymous email, browsing in schools, libraries), May 21, 2001. 

    "'Iowa Supreme Court says counselors liable for bad advice'", April 27-29, 2001. 

    "'Teacher sues parent over handshake'", March 26, 2001. 

    "No more Indian team names?", March 15, 2001. 

    "Appeals panel: schools' harassment rule unconstitutional", Feb. 27, 2001; "Weekend reading" (Title IX and "student-on-student" harassment), August 21-22, 1999

    "Forbidden paint zone" (New York City's 10-foot rule), Feb. 27, 2001. 

    "U.K.'s school bullying suits", Feb. 14-15, 2001. 

    "Behind 'Boston Public'", Nov. 21, 2000. 

    "'Internet Usage Records Accessible Under FOI Laws'", Nov. 14, 2000.

    "School suspends girl for casting spell", Nov. 1, 2000. 

    "Back-to-school roundup: granola bars out, Ritalin in" (allergies), Aug. 29-30, 2000; "Multiple chemical sensitivity from school construction", Jul. 3-4; "Scented hair gel, deodorant could mean jail time for Canadian youth", Apr. 24, 2000. 

    "Letourneau scandal: now where's my million?" (boy sues), Apr. 20, 2000. 

    "School safety hysteria, internalized" (program encourages students to inform anonymously on depressed or angry classmates), Apr. 7-9, 2000; "Overlawyered schools: three views" (update), Apr. 21-23, 2000. 

    "$60,000 battle over $5 t-shirt" (dress code, heavy-metal t-shirt), Apr. 19, 2000 (update, Aug. 29-30: case settled). 

    "Welcome, Yahoo and About.com visitors" (this page listed), Jan. 11, 2000. 

    "Got milk?  Get sued" (veggie lawsuit against milk in schools), Dec. 16, 1999. 

    Teachers sue students: "Back-to-school roundup: granola bars out, Ritalin in", Aug. 29-30, 2000; "Drastic remedy for unruly classrooms", Sept. 28, 1999.

    "Teach but don't touch" (educators, camp counselors afraid of physical contact with kids), Sept. 15, 1999.

    "Blackboard jungle" (Ann Arbor substitute teacher back-pay case), Sept. 14, 1999 (& letter to the editor, Jun. 20-22.).

    "Undislodgeable educators" (tenure plus employment law), Aug. 18, 1999. 
     


    Other online articles of interest:

    Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci, "Accommodating Learning Disabilities Can Bestow Unfair Advantages", Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug. 6, 1999.


    Articles by Overlawyered.com editor Walter Olson:

    "Title IX's Invisible Ink" ("student-on-student" harassment), Reason, August/Sept. 1999. 

    "Standard Accommodations" (special ed expands toward infinity), Reason, February 1999. 

    "Title IX from Outer Space: How federal law is killing men's college sports", Reason, February 1998. 

    "Opposing View: Meddlers Won't Quit" (EEOC guidelines on college athletic coaches' pay), USA Today, November 17, 1997. 

    "Say What?" ("accent discrimination"; Westfield, Mass. school case), Reason, November 1997. 

    "The Law on Trial", Wall Street Journal, October 14, 1997 (review of Beyond all Reason by Daniel Farber and Suzanna Sherry). 

    "Time to Get Off the Tenure Track", The New York Times, July 8, 1997. 

    "Shut Up, They Explained" (zero-tolerance harassment policies), Reason, June 1997. 

    "Have You Used a Kid Today As a Political Pawn?", Chicago Tribune, November 14, 1996. 

    "A Connecticut Yankee in Court" (Sheff v. O'Neill decision), City Journal, Autumn 1996.

    "Kidlib and Mrs. Clinton: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, National Review, May 11, 1992. 

    "Breaking Ranks", review of Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby by Stephen Carter, National Review, October 7, 1991.


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