McCarthy institute explores student, employee rights

Student speech rights and the federal role in education were just a few of the topics covered at this year’s Martha McCarthy Education Law and Policy Institute at the IU School of Education held virtually on May 14. 

Dean Anastasia Morrone welcomed attendees, and then the institute opened with a keynote address by University of South Carolina law professor Derek Black entitled Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy

A second keynote address was given by Mary Beth Tinker, student rights advocate and plaintiff in the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines. Tinker’s address, Mighty Times: Students and the First Amendment, was particularly relevant given that the Supreme Court is currently deliberating on another student speech case, B.L. v. Mahanoy. A panel discussion on student speech rights followed Tinker’s address.

Over 300 participants registered for the institute. Attendees included teachers, school leaders, attorneys, education law researchers and others interested in increasing their legal literacy. This is the largest attendance in the institute’s history.

Participants also had an opportunity to discuss a range of education law and policy topics in breakout sessions. A complete listing of the events and other IU education law resources are available on the conference website.

Issues that were discussed included:

  • LGBTQ student and employee rights in schools
  • Charter schools
  • Church / state law in schools
  • Title IX
  • Immigration laws
  • Employee speech
  • School climate and culture
  • International education law issues

Panelists included educational leaders, attorneys, policymakers and professors, including Martha McCarthy, Presidential Professor at Loyola Marymount and Chancellor’s Professor Emerita at IU.

This is the ninth year that the conference carried the name of Martha McCarthy. Organizers renamed the longtime conference for McCarthy, a faculty member at the IU School of Education from 1975 to 2011 and a nationally recognized expert in education law. Her research has covered a variety of education leadership and policy matters, including student engagement, equity in schools, teacher preparation and religion in schools. In 2020, McCarthy was awarded the IU Bicentennial Medal.