Renee v. Duncan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Education Law
  • Date Filed: 05-10-2012
  • Case #: 08-16661
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge W. Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judge D. Nelson; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Circuit Judge Tallman
  • Full Text Opinion

Before Congress amended the Continuing Appropriations Act by adding Section 163, which temporarily expands the definition of “highly qualified teacher” under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the challenged federal regulation characterizing an alternative-route teacher who has not obtained full state certification as a “highly qualified teacher" violates the NCLB. However, so long as Section 163 is in effect, the challenged regulation is consistent with the NCLB.

Sonya Renee, et al., challenged 34 C.F.R. § 200.56 as violating the No Child Left Behind Act (“NCLB”), because it permits an alternative-route teacher who has merely “demonstrate[d] satisfactory progress toward full certification,” as opposed to having obtained full state certification, as a “highly qualified teacher.” Renee appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Department of Education and the Secretary of Education. The goal of the NCLB is to “ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” One premise of the NCLB is that only “highly qualified” teachers should instruct core academic classes in school districts receiving Title I funding. If a state fails to comply with the NCLB’s requirements, the Secretary can withhold funds or take other enforcement action. In December 2010, Congress amended the Continuing Appropriations Act by adding Section 163, temporarily expanding the statutory definition of “highly qualified teacher” to include an alternative-route teacher who “demonstrates satisfactory progress toward full certification.” Section 163 remains in effect only through the end of the 2012-2013 school year; after this time, an alternative-route teacher will not qualify as a “highly qualified teacher.” The Court reaffirmed its decision in Renee II that 34 C.F.R. § 200.56(a)(2)(ii) is inconsistent with NCLB as it existed before the passage of Section 163. As long as this section remains in effect, § 200.56(a)(2)(ii) is valid. However, if Congress does not act, Section 163 will expire at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, and Renee II will again control. AFFIRMED.

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