Virginia Supreme Court Opinions Affecting Local Government Law: October 31, 2014

By: Andrew McRoberts, Editor. This was posted Saturday, November 1st, 2014

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Happy Halloween!  The Virginia Supreme Court issued opinions on Halloween this year. A complete coincidence, but I do hope that nothing in this term’s opinions has scares you!  This term resulted in two cases related to school law, and one related to DSS law.  As always, congratulations to the winners!

The case summaries are taken from the Virginia Supreme Court opinions website. Click on the case number to read the opinion.

131584 Dinwiddie DSS v. Nunnally 10/31/2014 Upon consideration of the record, briefs, and argument of counsel, the judgment of the Court of Appeals reversing a trial court disposition on a motion to transfer a proceeding to terminate parental rights to a tribal court, vacating the order terminating the parental rights of the mother and father, and remanding the matter, is affirmed for the reasons stated in its unpublished memorandum opinion, Renee Bagley Nunnally, et al. v. Dinwiddie Department of Social Services, Rec. Nos. 1947-12-2, 1948-12-1, 1949-12-2, dated September 10, 2013. The case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings in light of the standards articulated in the decision of the Court of Appeals in Thompson v. Fairfax County Dep’t of Family Servs., 62 Va. App. 350, 747 S.E.2d 838 (2013), which rejected the traditional “best interests of the child test” in favor of the more limited test involving an immediate serious emotional or physical harm, or a substantial risk of such harm, to a child arising from transfer to a tribal court.

140081 Blake v. Commonwealth 10/31/2014 Code § 22.1-254, a compulsory school attendance statute obligating parents and guardians to “send” children of specified age to school, cannot be used to criminally prosecute parents or guardians based upon tardiness in the children’s arrival at school. The judgment of the Court of Appeals upholding three misdemeanor convictions of the defendant under this statute and Code § 22.1-263 is reversed, and final judgment is entered vacating the convictions.

140145 Payne v. Fairfax County School Bd. 10/31/2014 Code § 22.1-315(A) does not require a school board to hold a hearing before suspending a non-teaching employee without pay for fewer than five days. The present employee has no standing argue the due process rights of teachers, and any due process rights she may have had as a non-teaching employee were fulfilled by the grievance process. Code § 22.1-28 vests school boards with authority to supervise the schools in their school divisions. Under Dillon’s Rule, the power to discipline school employees is not only necessarily and fairly implied from this provision, such power is essential and indispensable, and Code § 22.1-79(6) presupposes that school boards have it. The judgment of the circuit court is affirmed.


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