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Overview

As a licensed teacher, Aleks’ passion for education runs deep and is at the core of her work with clients. She knows that every client, like every student, requires a unique and individualized approach to optimize success.

Aleks counsels colleges, universities and schools on investigations, litigation and compliance matters arising from a wide range of civil rights and educational funding issues. These include advising on issues in response to internal and Office of Civil Rights (OCR) complaints, as well as litigation claims following alleged student or employee misconduct involving criminal activity, minors on campus, sex, race, age and national origin discrimination. She works closely with institutions, spending time on campuses and conducting interviews, to preemptively isolate potential problems and design measures that promote equal access and diversity.

Education law is a niche practice that is only getting more specific, and Aleks knows responsiveness and transparency are a must. If issues escalate, clients trust Aleks for her extensive litigation experience, including serving as first chair in federal and state jury and bench trials, as well as first chair federal appellate court proceedings. Aleks invests time to build strong relationships with clients, so she can understand their individualized risks and craft solutions that are right for them.

Prior to joining the firm, Aleks worked at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of the General Counsel under Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Washington, D.C., and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Den Haag, Netherlands.


Industry

Services

Recognition

  • 2017 August Steinhilber Award for “Best Brief” from the Education Law Association (ELA).
  • Missouri Bar Pro Bono Wall of Fame, 2015-2018

Education

  • J.D., University of Illinois College of Law
    • summa cum laude
    • Order of the Coif
    • CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Advanced Trial Advocacy Intellectual Property
    • Rickert Award for Excellence in Advocacy; Rickert Award for Excellence in Service 
    • Lisnek Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy
    • Illinois Trial Team, Coach
    • Frederick Green Moot Court Competition, Best Oralist
    • Education Law & Policy Society, Co-Founder & President
    • Legal Writing & Analysis and Introduction to Advocacy, Teaching Assistant
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • summa cum laude
    • Illinois Trial Team, President
    • Illinois Professional Educator License, 2012-Present

Admissions

  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Inns of Court, St. Louis Chapter, Associate Member, 2017-Present
  • Missouri School Boards' Association Council of School Attorneys, 2016-Present
  • NSBA Council of School Attorneys, 2016-Present
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys, 2017-Present
  • Serbian Bar Association of America, Board Member, 2015-Present and Secretary, 2016-Present
  • The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Missouri Bar Association

Languages

  • Serbian, fluent
Experience

Litigation

  • Successfully mediated claims for university clients involving issues such as Title IX, disability discrimination and breach of contract claims against current students and athletic conferences.
  • Successfully briefed opposition of plaintiff's motion to proceed under pseudonym on behalf of university in litigation involving disability discrimination and Title IX claims.
  • Obtained dismissal with prejudice of employment discrimination case pending in federal court without client's depositions being taken or briefing motions for summary judgment.
  • Secured motion to dismiss with prejudice filed on behalf of university client on constructive discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims.
  • Successfully negotiated dismissal with prejudice on behalf of client regarding copyright, negligent hiring and contract claims.
  • Successfully obtained dismissals for university client of motions to dismiss and transfer venue in small claims and breach of contract matters.
  • Drafted award-winning amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Council of Great City Schools – nonprofit coalition of 69 largest urban U.S. public-school systems in support of respondent school district in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School Dist. RE–1, 580 U.S. ___ (2017).
  • Successfully obtained partial unitary status for public school district subject to desegregation order in facilities, non-instructional staff and administrative staff.
  • Counseled and assisted multiple public school districts to comply with desegregation orders and consent decrees pending in federal courts throughout the country.

Investigation

  • Conducted investigation at institution regarding potential sexual misconduct and hazing, which included interviews with multiple coaches and players from numerous sports teams.
  • Led investigation related to minors on campus and alleged criminal activity at institution in two phases: review of hundreds of thousands of documents and conduct interviews of dozens of employees and former students.
  • Led investigation related to freedom of expression issue involving alleged student misconduct on social media.
  • Led Title IX investigations involving stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault and violence, domestic violence and retaliation.

Compliance and U.S. Department of Education

  • Conducted dozens of trainings for clients regarding Title IX, disability accommodations, First Amendment issues, conflicts of interests, board governance, legal considerations for managers and supervisors regarding employee issues, updates in federal and state law, and student handbooks.
  • Conducted and prepared audit regarding Title IX equity in athletics.
  • Prepared client's change of control application and change of ownership application notifying accreditor and U.S. Department of Education of proposed change.
  • Assisted college in receiving approval of recertification application from U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Office.
  • Assisted college in removal from U.S. Department of Education's Heightened Cash Monitoring in order to receive positive composite score following ED's finding of change in ownership resulting in change of control.
  • Developed comprehensive biannual federal legal updates relevant to school districts' policies and procedures.
  • Obtained insufficient evidence finding on behalf of client from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights on student's disability harassment, academic adjustments and retaliation allegations.
Thought Leadership
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Outside the Office

Aleks enjoys taking time to herself to focus on family, friends and wellness.

She loves to venture out with her husband, newborn son and black lab to explore the great city of St. Louis. Whether taking photos, meditating or trying a new restaurant, Aleks spends time learning about herself and the community around her.

Community Leadership

Aleks has an active pro bono practice. As co-coordinator of the firm’s pro bono legal intake clinic with Grace Hill Settlement House, she dedicates significant time to representing low-income families in St. Louis, victims of domestic violence and indigent clients with a variety of legal issues in state and federal court.

As a member of the Wellness Council for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addition (NCADA), Aleks is determined to promote and develop research-based educational programs proven to prevent alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse for local schools and community groups.

Education Presentation Authority

A true educator, Aleks is invited to present at national and statewide conferences, seminars and webinars on cutting-edge legal issues affecting K-12 and higher education. She enjoys teaching about new developments and facilitating discussion. Aleks is also a co-founder of the firm’s K-12 Legal Insights Blog.