SAIS recently joined the National Association of Independent Schools, National Business Officers Association, the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools, and the Palmetto Association of Independent Schools to coauthor an amicus brief in response to recent court rulings addressing federal financial assistance, nonprofit status, Title IX, and independent schools. Additional background information on this case can be found on the SAIS website.
The case of Buettner-Hartsoe v. Baltimore Lutheran School came before the District Court for the District of Maryland on September 1, 2022. Several representatives of the independent school associations that filed the brief attended the hearing. The court heard two motions: reconsideration, which asks the judge to revisit his opinion, and interlocutory appeal, which is an expedited form of appeal to the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The motion for reconsideration was denied. The motion for interlocutory appeal was granted. The judge upheld his interpretation of the law stating that 501(c)(3) status constitutes federal financial assistance for the purposes of Title IX. He also further clarified that, as a matter of policy, it is his opinion that Title IX should apply to all independent schools. The judge also noted that this is an important issue and warrants an expedited review by the 4th Circuit, and therefore granted the motion for an interlocutory appeal.
The school has received permission from the federal district court judge to petition the 4th Circuit to review this particular question of law. Once the 4th Circuit receives the petition, it will or will not grant permission for further filings and a hear. If the request is granted, the process could take a year or more to come to resolution in front of the 4th Circuit. Until that time, this particular case is stayed, which means that, while it is on record, it is a less persuasive authority as a case that is stayed and under review.
What Does This Mean for Independent Schools?
What We Know
We will continue to keep you updated on this evolving legal issue. Schools should work with their attorneys if they have particular questions about how specific laws may apply to their individual circumstances.