As a service to our clients in the Education Law Group, Walter | Haverfield is offering,andnbsp;without charge, a variety of brief presentations geared toward educating district personnel on timely topics facing public school districts. Conducted on-site at the district, each continuing education presentation is designed to assist district representatives in identifying and addressing legal issues before they cause significant financial liability, operational harm or negative publicity. Each session will run approximately one hour and will provide sufficient time for any questions that may arise.

The Education Law Group has identified the following topics:

What Administrators Need to Know

This session will provide a comprehensive update on the status of various recent school law developments. Specific topics of discussion will include: (1) reduction in force and layoff concerns; (2) recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act; (3) recent FERPA amendments; and (4) an update on other timely legislative and judicial developments.

School Law Awareness for New Teachers

This session will provide a basic overview to new teachers designed to assist them in spotting legal issues as they arise and handling those issues properly. The session will highlight a variety of areas including bullying, harassment and discrimination, privacy concerns, child abuse reporting obligations and other common legal issues teachers may encounter.

Regulating and Managing Student Use of Cell Phones

This session will discuss issues faced by schools related to student use of cellular phones and electronic devices including: (1) the ability to regulate the possession and use of such devices; (2) how to lawfully address inappropriate content and use such as transmitting sexually explicit material, cyber bullying and cheating; (3) under what circumstances district personnel may conduct a lawful search and/or confiscate devices; and (4) other related topics such as videotaping teachers and other students. Learn how to address these situations to avoid liability by going too far … or not going far enough.

Responding to Student and Employee Misuse of Internet Web Sites

MySpace, Facebook and YouTube – the possibilitiesandnbsp;and problemsandnbsp;are endless. Can you discipline students or employees for posting material to a Website that attacks teachers, administrators or board members? What about teachers posting provocative pictures or discussing intimate details of their personal lives over the Internet? How do you address students posting pictures to the Internet of themselves drinking beer at a party? What about students recording teachers in the classroom and posting it to the Internet? We’ll discuss how to address these and other scenarios that are becoming all too commonplace.

How to Minimize Special Education Disputes and Successfully Defend Them When They Occur

Without getting into the more intricate complexities of the IDEIA, this session provides an overview of simple procedures which should be followed in order to minimize special education disputes and successfully defend them. The focus will be on practical advice regarding steps that should be taken: (1) at the initial evaluation stage; (2) during creation of an individualized education plan; and (3) during ongoing implementation of the IEP. We also will discuss common pitfalls school districts face in the special education context and how to avoid them.

Student Discipline 101

Students have many constitutional, statutory and contractual rights when it comes to discipline which exposes the district to potential liability if they run afoul of those rights. This session will walk you through the discipline process and provide practical tips on how to: (1) comply with notice and other procedural requirements; (2) ensure that student discipline policies and handbooks are consistently applied and enforced; (3) avoid infringing students’ rights; (4) properly document the disciplinary incident; and (5) successfully prosecute the proposed discipline and/or defend legal challenges to the proposed discipline.

How to Properly Discipline Employees

This session will provide practical advice on how to: (1) properly discipline employees, even when faced with the most difficult employees and challenging situations; (2) maintain control of the disciplinary process; and (3) properly document and investigate the disciplinary action so that the Board is best positioned to defeat challenges to the disciplinary action in arbitration or court.

Grievance Processing and Preparing for Arbitration

In this session, we will discuss how to properly handle grievances at each stage of the process, from the initial notice of the grievance through arbitration. We will focus on practical advice on how to defeat grievances brought by both teaching and non-teaching staff. We will discuss the essential steps that must be taken at the first stage, how to best respond to grievances throughout the process and what administrators need to do in order to be successful at arbitration.

Evaluations and Non-Renewal

Don’t get stuck with a bad employee for decades because of one missed procedural step! During this session, we will discuss the procedural and substantive requirements required to non-renew both teaching and non-teaching staff. We will also provide practical tips on how to (1) avoid common pitfalls; (2) ensure a non-renewal decision is supported by adequate documentation; and (3) handle any apparent flaws that may have occurred.

A Roadmap for Navigating the Family Medical Leave Act

Recent revisions to the FMLA have complicated what was already a complex set of regulations. In this session, we will discuss the recent changes to the FMLA and the impact of those changes upon school districts. Among the items for discussion are the revisions to the eligibility, medical certification, notice, and other provisions of the FMLA, including the military leave amendments. We will also discuss the application of these provisions in evaluating and addressing requests for FMLA leave from both certificated and non-certificated staff members.

If you are interested in scheduling one or more of these sessions for your district, please contact one of ourandnbsp;Education Law Group attorneys.