Schools, School Districts & Universities
Our attorneys advise educational institutions on board policy and general employment matters and represent school districts and universities in student discipline appeals, special education administrative hearings and litigation at the state and federal levels. We also advise on civil rights and privacy protections, particularly as it relates to sensitive student data and online education services.
Taking a proactive approach, we serve as trusted advisors to administrators and other decision-makers regarding the full spectrum of issues unique to the academic community. We help clients assess risks and make the decisions that are in the best interest of the institution and its students. If there is a way to get something done, we’ll find it.
Areas of Focus
Personnel Administration & Benefits
We assist education clients with both routine and specialized employment issues, including Title VII, Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act. We also advise on all issues related to union representation, collective bargaining, arbitration, employee discipline matters, and the many other labor and employment issues that schools and universities face every day.
Grievance & Discipline
Our team has an excellent record of successfully defending discharge arbitrations and other disciplinary cases, including discipline for off-duty conduct, violation of drug policies, progressive discipline, performance deficiencies, absenteeism, and neglect of duty. In addition, we routinely obtain winning results in contract interpretation cases, including cases involving reserved management rights, binding past practices, minimum staffing, seniority, layoffs, premium compensation, and health insurance benefits.
What sets our team apart, however, is our ability to help schools avoid grievances and arbitrations altogether by guiding and training HR administrators on critical issues, from misconduct documentation and effective evaluations to performance improvement plans, last chance agreements and final warnings.
Whatever the particular issue, the bottom line is that we set our clients up for success, not failure, when it comes to employee discipline.
Across our footprint we help hundreds of school corporations address all sorts of matters that pertain to education, and this includes the oft-times difficult and thorny issues that permeate special education. Handling special education matters requires not only a knowledge of the applicable law, and access to very specialized resources, but also a degree of human compassion for the individuals involved. Because of our experience we recognize that parents will always seek to advocate for what they believe to be best possible educational plan for their child. Unfortunately, these efforts occasionally run at cross-purposes with what physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and other experts believe is best for the child. It takes a delicate and experienced hand to handle and resolve these disputes, and we have both.
We represent school districts in compensation agreement and income tax sharing agreement negotiations. Our bond attorneys are also on hand to discuss potential creative approaches for using economic development income streams to serve debt for capital improvements and other ventures. In addition, we serve as ad valorem tax counsel and prosecute or defend many tax valuation complaints (and associated appeals) each year. We help clients implement robust, yet efficient valuation complaint systems to maximize real property revenues to the school districts.
Alex Ewing | Partner
We work with forward-thinking leaders in education to accomplish real change and lead students into the 21st century. We don’t say, ‘No’. We help you assess risks and make the decisions that are in the best interest of the institution and its students. If there is a way to get something done, we’ll find it.
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