Federal Constitution & Laws
While the United States Constitution does not address education, and in fact it reserves issues not addressed in the Constitution to the states, the federal government has been involved in education since almost the beginning of the nation.
First, by requiring new states of the Northwest Territory to put land aside for the support of public schools. Then, support for vocational education in the early 20th century, followed by support for school lunch programs in the 1930’s and 40’s. This was followed by involvement to desegregate schools in the 1950’s and beyond, as well as financial involvement to support science programs to deal with the Sputnik threat. In the 1960’s the federal role grew the Civil Rights Act, the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA), which aimed to deal with the effects of poverty. In the 1970’s, the involvement and support of education grew with the enactment of IDEA (Individuals with Disability Education Act. In the 1990's, the Congress enacted a program to fund the start-up of charters schools and fund charter school facilities.
Today, there are numerous Federal Laws that address education and even more Federal Court decisions, on issues that range from student rights under the First Amendment to intellectual property rights, and employment rights to copyright laws.
Charter school boards and administrators need to be aware of federal laws and court decisions that impact the operation and functioning of public schools.