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Agostini v. Felton

Supreme Court of the United States

April 15, 1997, Argued ; June 23, 1997, 1 Decided

Nos. 96-552, 96-553

Opinion

 [**2003]  [***405]  [*208]    JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

 In Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402, 87 L. Ed. 2d 290, 105 S. Ct. 3232 (1985), this Court held that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment barred the city of New York from sending public school teachers into parochial schools to provide remedial education to disadvantaged children pursuant to a congressionally mandated program. On remand, the District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered a permanent injunction reflecting our ruling. Twelve years later, petitioners--the parties bound by that injunction--seek relief from its operation. Petitioners maintain that Aguilar cannot be  [*209]  squared with our intervening Establishment Clause jurisprudence and ask that we explicitly recognize what our more recent cases already dictate: Aguilar is no longer good law. We agree with petitioners that Aguilar is not consistent with our subsequent Establishment Clause decisions and further conclude that, on the facts presented here, petitioners [****13]  are entitled under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) to relief from the operation of the District Court's prospective injunction.

In 1965, Congress enacted Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 27, as modified, 20 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq., to "provide full educational opportunity to every child regardless of economic background." S. Rep. No. 146, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. 5 (1965) (hereinafter Title I). Toward that end, Title I channels federal funds, through the States, to "local educational agencies" (LEA's). 20 U.S.C. §§ 6311, 6312. 2 The LEA's spend these funds to provide remedial education, guidance, and job counseling to eligible students. §§ 6315(c)(1)(A) (LEA's must use funds to "help participating children meet . . . State student performance standards"), 6315(c)(1)(E) (LEA's may use funds to provide "counseling, mentoring, and other pupil services"); see also §§ 6314(b)(1)(B)(i), (iv). An eligible student is one (i) who resides within the attendance boundaries of a public  [**2004]  school located in a low-income area, § 6313(a)(2)(B); and (ii) who is failing, or is at risk of failing, the State's student performance standards, § 6315(b)(1)(B).  [****14]  Title I funds must be made available to all eligible children, regardless of whether they attend public schools, § 6312(c)(1)(F),  [***406]  and the services provided to children attending private schools must  [*210]  be "equitable in comparison to services and other benefits for public school children." § 6321(a)(3); see § 6321(a)(1); 34 CFR §§ 200.10(a), 200.11(b) (1996).

An LEA providing services to children enrolled in private schools is subject to a number of constraints that are not imposed when it provides aid to public schools. Title I services may be provided only to those private school students eligible for aid, and cannot be used to provide services on a "school-wide" basis. Compare 34 CFR § [****15]  200.12(b) with 20 U.S.C. § 6314 (allowing "school-wide" programs at public schools). In addition, the LEA must retain complete control over Title I funds; retain title to all materials used to provide Title I services; and provide those services through public employees or other persons independent of the private school and any religious institution. §§ 6321(c)(1), (2). The Title I services themselves must be "secular, neutral, and nonideological," § 6321(a)(2), and must "supplement, and in no case supplant, the level of services" already provided by the private school, 34 CFR § 200.12(a) (1996).

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521 U.S. 203 *; 117 S. Ct. 1997 **; 138 L. Ed. 2d 391 ***; 1997 U.S. LEXIS 4000 ****; 65 U.S.L.W. 4524; 97 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4765; 97 Daily Journal DAR 7843; 37 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 1051; 11 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 76

RACHEL AGOSTINI, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. BETTY-LOUISE FELTON ET AL. CHANCELLOR, BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. BETTY-LOUISE FELTON ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]  ON WRITS OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT, Reported at: 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 22981.

Disposition: 101 F.3d 1394, reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

religious, religion, sectarian, teachers, entanglement, secular, parochial, teaching, indoctrination, impermissible, inculcate, injunction, symbolic, eligible, monitoring, attend, church, subsidization, classroom, sign-language, endorsement, pervasive, invalid, adherence, nonpublic, instructors, translates, full-time, repudiate, publicly

Civil Procedure, Remedies, Injunctions, Permanent Injunctions, Judgments, Entry of Judgments, Consent Decrees, Relief From Judgments, Altering & Amending Judgments, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Religion, Establishment of Religion, Bill of Rights, General Overview, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Appeals, Standards of Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, Preclusion of Judgments, Law of the Case, US Supreme Court Review