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J.S. v. Grand Island Public Schools

Supreme Court of Nebraska

July 28, 2017

J.S., Appellant,
v.
GRAND ISLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Appellee.

         1. Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. A jurisdictional question which does not involve a factual dispute is determined by an appellate court as a matter of law.

         2. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory interpretation presents a question of law, for which an appellate court has an obligation to reach an independent conclusion irrespective of the decision made by the court below.

         3. Administrative Law: Judgments: Appeal and Error. A judgment or final order rendered by a district court in a judicial review pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act may be reversed, vacated, or modified by an appellate court for errors appearing on the record.

         4. ___:___: ___. When reviewing an order of a district court under the Administrative Procedure Act for errors appearing on the record, the inquiry is whether the decision conforms to the law, is supported by competent evidence, and is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable.

         5. Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Before reaching the legal issues presented for review, it is the power and duty of an appellate court to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the matter before it, irrespective of whether the issue is raised by the parties.

         6. Jurisdiction: Service of Process: Parties. The voluntary appearance of a party is equivalent to service of process for purposes of personal jurisdiction.

         7. Jurisdiction: Words and Phrases. Personal jurisdiction is the power of a tribunal to subject and bind a particular entity to its decisions.

         8. ___:___. Subject matter jurisdiction is the power of a tribunal to hear and determine a case in the general class or category to which the proceedings in question belong and to deal with the general subject matter involved.

         [297 Neb. 348] 9. Jurisdiction. Parties cannot confer subject matter jurisdiction upon a judicial tribunal by either acquiescence or consent, nor may subject matter jurisdiction be created by waiver, estoppel, consent, or conduct of the parties.

         10. Actions: Jurisdiction. Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time by any party or by the court sua sponte.

         11. ___: ___.A court action taken without subject matter jurisdiction is void.

         12. Statutes: Legislature: Intent. In construing a statute, a court must determine and give effect to the purpose and intent of the Legislature as ascertained from the entire language of the statute considered in its plain, ordinary, and popular sense.

         13. Appeal and Error. The right of appeal in Nebraska is purely statutory.

         14. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Unless a statute provides for an appeal from the decision of a quasi-judicial tribunal, such right does not exist.

         15. Jurisdiction: Statutes: Appeal and Error. The requirements of a statute underlying a right to appeal are mandatory and must be complied with before the appellate court acquires jurisdiction of the subject matter of the action.

         16. Actions: Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Where a district court has statutory authority to review an action, the district court may acquire jurisdiction only if the review is sought in the mode and manner and within the time provided by statute.

         17. Administrative Law: Schools and School Districts: Appeal and Error. Appeals from the district court under the Student Discipline Act are governed by the Administrative Procedure Act.

         18. Administrative Law: Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. The filing of the petition and the service of summons are the two actions necessary to establish the jurisdiction of the district court to review the final decision of an administrative agency under the Administrative Procedure Act.

         Appeal from the District Court for Hall County: Teresa K. Luther, Judge. Appeal dismissed.

          Mitchell C. Stehlik, of Lauritsen, Brownell, Brostrom & Stehlik, PC, L.L.O., for appellant.

          Jeanelle R. Lust and Paul B. Donahue, of Knudsen, Berkheimer, Richardson & Endacott, L.L.P., for appellee.

         [297 Neb. 349] Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy. Kelch, and Funke, JJ.

          FUNKE, J.

         NATURE OF CASE

         This case concerns a 15-day suspension of a student for a post made on a social media website from her home that, in part, caused a substantial disruption at her school. The superintendent and the school board each upheld the suspension. On appeal under the Student Discipline Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-254 et seq. (Reissue 2014), the Hall County District Court ...


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