With over 85 years of experience in education law, our firm is a recognized leader in representing public and private educational institutions.
Attorneys in our Education practice area devote substantially all of their time to serving the legal needs of public and private elementary schools, secondary schools, institutions of higher education, and other education-related businesses and organizations. Other lawyers in our firm are involved in providing ancillary legal services in areas such as labor and employment, employee benefits, tax, real estate, construction, environmental and public finance.
General Counsel ServicesWe are readily available to discuss the day-to-day legal issues school administrators face. Because of the scope and extent of our education experience, we provide timely and comprehensive answers and strategies without spending extensive time on costly legal research. A brief telephone conversation can save a client thousands of dollars in damages and litigation fees. We provide guidance on issues involving employment, election laws, open meetings and records, state and federal education laws and regulations, purchasing and contracting, school policy development, and patron complaints.
Teacher Discipline/TerminationsMuch of our practice is devoted to guiding educational institutions dealing with problem teachers, both probationary and tenured. Our attorneys not only provide legal advice about terminating incompetent teachers, but also help draft warning letters, notices to remedy, notices of nonrenewals, and other statutorily required notices. We often handle more than 50 teacher terminations a year, many of which involve due process hearings.
Student Rights/Responsibilities/DisciplineOur education attorneys have broad experience handling student rights issues, such as access to student records, locker searches, dress codes, Safe Schools Act issues, computer use and Internet access, and school control over student newspapers and other forms of student speech. We have helped design and manage the difficult policies of accommodating student religious activities at public schools, including religious clubs, distribution of religious materials, and students proselytizing on school grounds. Our attorneys regularly represent public and private schools in student suspension and expulsion proceedings.
Special EducationWe provide guidance to public school districts concerning substantive and procedural requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. We have resolved disputes between school districts and parents of disabled students under both IDEA and Section 504. Our special education experience spans the entire spectrum from basic administrative proceedings to complex litigation including Office for Civil Rights investigations, due process hearings, state level review proceedings, and state and federal litigation culminating in settlement, trial, or resolution on appeal.
Higher EducationRepresentation of institutions of higher education is the fastest growing area of our Education practice. We provide guidance and support in construction claims, real estate and condemnation, bond financing, capital improvement, charitable giving, faculty and staff employment (including immigration), compliance with governmental regulations, litigation and litigation management, policy development, student issues, technology transfer, and taxation.
Negotiations With Employee GroupsOur Education practice includes negotiation of agreements with teacher and non-teacher groups. We have negotiated and designed administrative policies for represented groups of employees, defended and prosecuted unfair labor practice charges, and provided guidance in union avoidance.
LitigationOur firm has represented public school districts and private schools in over 200 lawsuits involving discrimination claims of all types, personal injury, sexual harassment suits by employees and students, open meetings law actions, education malpractice contract claims, Teacher Tenure Act claims and other claims. We are at the forefront of the recent surge in consumer protection claims brought by students and the plaintiffs’ bar against both traditional and private sector colleges. We know how to effectively defend and win these cases, both in court and in arbitration proceedings.
In-Service TrainingOur education attorneys pride themselves on their client training activities - training designed to increase client awareness and minimize potential legal problems. We present client seminars annually on current developments in school law. Our training programs stress actual problems faced by school administrators and board members, and offer practical suggestions to reduce liability. Another preventive law service we provide free of charge to clients is the publication of quarterly newsletters on developments in education law. We send periodic newsletters and E-mail updates to clients advising them of new court decisions or statutes that may have an impact on their schools. Our commitment to continuous communication with our clients helps them know when they should call for legal advice.
Our education attorneys are often engaged in making presentations to school lawyers at national seminars and conferences sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools, the National Federation of State High Schools Association, the Missouri School Board Association’s Council of School Attorneys, and the Education Law Association.
Alternative Dispute ResolutionOur firm has successfully arbitrated or mediated over 35 cases in the last three years.
Capital Improvement PlansOur attorneys represented a school district in all phases of a $500 million capital improvements plan, including bond financing, condemnation, acquisition of property, asbestos abatement, contracts with various contractors and architects, and resolution of construction claims.
We also represented a private school in connection with a $30 million capital improvements program, including bond financing, real estate matters, and negotiating and drafting agreements with architects and contractors.
School Funding Issues
Student Suspension/Expulsion Hearings