Skip to Main Content

“Thanks for the great job you and everyone did, John, to craft a truly seminal brief that I think will give the court real pause. Proud to work with such an amazing group. First-class piece of work.”

Michael Casserly, Executive Director, Council of the Great City Schools

Overview

Coming from a family of teachers, John knows that educators are dedicated to serving students and society. His lifelong passion for education underlies the insightful counsel he provides to colleges, universities and school districts.

For three decades, John has protected clients from risks and conflict and helped them make sound decisions to advance their mission. He responds quickly, and identifies and synthesizes core issues. His strong relationships with federal regulators and civil rights groups also benefit clients. John has a deep grasp of the practical, legal and policy issues facing not only schools and colleges but also other nonprofits and businesses in the education sector.

John helps clients navigate the complexities of federal and state constitutions, statutes and regulations. His experience covers a wide range of civil rights and educational funding issues, including Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, voting rights, affirmative action and diversity.

John also provides a powerful voice in defense of education clients.  A seasoned trial and appellate lawyer, he has argued appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court and in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits. He has handled numerous agency investigations, including compliance reviews by and complaints to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. He has defended various major class actions and litigated cases both in cooperation with and against the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Thanks for the great job you and everyone did, John, to craft a truly seminal brief that I think will give the court real pause. Proud to work with such an amazing group. First-class piece of work.”

Michael Casserly, Executive Director, Council of the Great City Schools


Industry

Services

Recognition

  • Education Law Association, August Steinhilber Award for Best Brief Writing in the Appellate Courts, 2017
  • National Association for Educational Equity Award of Merit
  • Defender of Civil Liberties, ACLU Foundation
  • Paul Harris Fellow

Education

  • J.D., Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
      • Order of the Coif
  • B.A., University of Notre Dame

Admissions

  • Illinois
  • District of Columbia
  • Indiana
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • Louisiana
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Memberships and Certifications

  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Board of Directors
  • American Bar Association
  • American Constitution Society
  • Education Law Association
  • llinois Council of School Attorneys
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys

Languages

  • French, conversant
Featured Experience

School District Successfully Defends Discrimination Claim

The Metro Nashville Public Schools faced a claim of unconstitutional racial discrimination. John successfully defended the district through a multiweek trial, an appeal in the Sixth Circuit and in the Supreme Court, where he opposed a petition for writ of certiorari. He also resolved a related complaint from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the district. John then helped the district develop a policy for promoting diverse enrollments in its schools to help avoid similar issues in the future.


Additional Experience

Client Counseling

  • Counseled university on scholarship program designed to promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Advised university on Title IX issues related to LGBT students.
  • Counseled school district on intersection of Perkins Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in career and technical education centers.
  • Advised university on litigation risks associated with contract dispute.
  • Counseled school district interested in expanding pre-K education programs on available federal grants and related compliance issues.
  • Advised university on Title IX sexual harassment investigations.

Litigation

  • Represented several public school districts in state constitutional challenge.
  • Represented university in Office for Civil Rights (OCR) complaint involving Title IX and Section 504 issues.
  • Negotiated modification of court-ordered remedy with Department of Justice.
  • Negotiated agreements leading to declarations of partial or full unitary status in several long-running school desegregation cases.
  • Negotiated resolution of Title VI complaint with OCR.
  • Defended program for English-language learners against class action challenge.
  • Represented public university and several administrators in First Amendment case.
Webinar | May 18, 2020
Final Title IX Regulations and Their Effect on Your District

Issues in Urban Education Webinar Series

Webinar | March 3, 2020
First Amendment Religious Liberty Issues Affecting Public Education

Issues in Urban Education Webinar Series

Webinar | December 17, 2019
Alcohol and Other Drugs in Public Schools

Issues in Urban Education Webinar Series

Webinar | September 2019
Ensuring an Accurate Census Count in 2020

Issues in Urban Education Webinar Series

Webinar | April 4, 2019
Student Discipline: Withdrawn Guidance and Best Practices

Issues in Urban Education Webinar Series

Webinar | May 22, 2018
Student Use of Social Media
Webinar | November 29, 2017
The Shifting Title IX Landscape
Media Mentions | February 16, 2018
AASA National Conference on Education: Smaller Federal Government Means Reduced Presence of Civil Rights Work in Schools, Attorneys Claim

Husch Blackwell Higher Education team members discuss changes at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Media Mentions | November 16, 2017
The Missouri Bar: MoveMakers & NewsMakers 11/16/17

The Missouri Bar Association highlights Mary Pat Carl's arrival at the firm and the team of Husch Blackwell lawyers who won the 2017 August Steinhilber Award for “Best Brief” from the Education Law Association (ELA).

Media Mentions | November 16, 2017
The Missouri Bar: MoveMakers & NewsMakers 11/16/17
Outside the Office

John loves sports.

He plays basketball, and after managing his daughter’s soccer team for several years, he now serves on the Junior Irish Soccer Club board of directors. With an undergraduate degree from Notre Dame, he is an avid Fighting Irish fan.

He enjoys cooking and trying recipes of many different cuisines. A self-described “old school reader,” he devours books in hard-copy form, as well as numerous magazines and newspapers.

Supreme Court Litigation

John has argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, written merits briefs and authored dozens of Supreme Court amicus briefs over the years for educational associations.

In one case, he led a team of Husch Blackwell attorneys in authoring an amicus brief presented by the Council of the Great City Schools, the primary coalition of urban public school systems in the United States. The Court found that under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, individualized education plans for students with disabilities should be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances” — reflecting arguments set forth in the amicus brief and largely rejecting the arguments of both the peititioners and the U.S. government.

Follow John on Twitter

Stay updated.

Subscribe to receive Husch Blackwell’s news and insights.

Select your preferences