Walter Haverfield Attorney

Christina Henagen Peer

  • Partner
    Education Chair
  • Cleveland Direct: 216.928.2918
  • Cleveland Fax: 216.916.2364

Overview

Christina focuses her practice on school law and labor and employment law. She provides counsel to boards of education on student discipline, collective bargaining agreements, employee grievances, employee evaluation and discipline issues, the First Amendment, public records requests including Sunshine Laws, records retention policies, social media issues, residency and custody disputes, and the drafting and implementation of board policies. Christina also counsels boards of education regarding state and federal laws relating to the education of students with disabilities and routinely provides training for teachers and administrators on special education issues. Her representation in this area includes attendance at MFE and IEP meetings, assisting districts with child find and evaluation issues, providing counsel regarding programming for students with disabilities, and reviewing draft IEPs for legal compliance. Additionally, Christina represents school districts before the Ohio Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in matters involving students with disabilities. Christina also represents school districts in due process proceedings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act from initial administrative hearings through litigation in federal court.

In addition to her education law practice, Christina represents private and public sector employers in a variety of labor and employment matters including defense of employment discrimination claims brought under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and other claims arising from terminations. Along with representing employers in federal and state courts, Christina defends employers against complaints of discrimination filed with the EEOC and OCRC. She frequently provides training to employers regarding compliance with various discrimination laws.

Christina is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio School Boards Association. She chaired the Executive Committee of the Ohio Council of School Board Attorneys in 2014 and served on the Executive Committee for eight years. In addition, Christina was an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where she taught a course on disability laws.

Experience

Special Education Law
  • Represents school districts with respect to the development of legally defensible IEPs and ETRs and all aspects of IDEA procedural compliance.
  • Attends IEP and ETR meetings on behalf of school districts to provide legal support to teams in contentious situations.
  • Resolves due process complaints in mediation in a cost-effective and expedient manner.
  • Represents school districts in all phases of IDEA due process hearings – from the administrative hearing to the United States Supreme Court – in matters involving requests for private placement, allegations of denial of FAPE, and student discipline issues.
  • Represents school districts in class action complaint proceedings before the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children.
  • Represents school districts in cases involving the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights including issues of disability discrimination, race discrimination, harassment and bullying.
  • Assisted school districts with development of policies/procedures for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  • Assists school districts with development of procedures for independent educational evaluations.
Labor and Employment
  • Represented school districts in proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Ohio Civil Rights Commission with respect to claims of race, sex, age, gender and disability discrimination.
  • Represents clients in federal court involving claims of race, sex, age, gender and disability discrimination.
  • Represents school districts in teacher termination and discipline proceedings.
  • Represents school districts in proceedings regarding discipline and termination of classified employees.
  • Counsels clients regarding compliance with the ADA, FMLA, FLSA, ADEA and other employment laws.
Student Issues
  • Represents school districts in student discipline proceedings before boards of education, appointed designees and in appeals to court.
  • Represented school districts in federal court litigation involving alleged violations of constitutional rights and Section 1983 (e.g., bullying, harassment, etc.)
  • Represents school districts in special education discipline situations – including due process hearings involving student discipline issues.
  • Counsels school districts regarding residency and custody disputes – including matters before the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Assists school districts with responses to requests for voluminous educational records.
  • Counsels school districts regarding obligations under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Sunshine Law/Public Records
  • Counsels school districts faced with voluminous public record requests and responded to same on behalf of clients.
  • Counsels school districts on various aspects of compliance with Ohio’s Open Meetings Act.
  • Counsels school districts on compliance with Ohio’s Public Records Act, including the impact of new technologies on public records.
  • Assists clients with development of record retention schedule in compliance with requirements of the Ohio Attorney General and Ohio Historical Society.
General Counsel Services
  • Assists school districts with policy review and development.
  • Reviews contracts on behalf of school districts and negotiates vendor contracts on behalf of school districts.
  • Represents school districts in mediations involving contractual claims.
  • Assists school districts with investigations by various agencies including the Ohio Auditor’s Office, Disability Rights Ohio and U.S. Department of Justice.

Recognition

  • May 2018 – Featured in a special section of Crain’s Cleveland Business titled, “Northeast Ohio Notable Women in Law”
  • 2012-2019 - Selected for inclusion in the 2012-2019 editions of The Best Lawyers in America©. Listed in the current edition for Education Law.
  • 2017 - Named the Best Lawyers® 2017 Education Law "Lawyer of the Year" in Cleveland.
  • 2006-2007, 2009-2010 - Selected to Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Stars. Areas of practice: Schools & Education, Employment & Labor.
Best Lawyers Award Badge Best Lawyers Award Badge

Articles

Presentations

Christina is a frequent presenter for the Ohio School Boards Association, the Ohio Department of Education, State Support Team 3, the Greater Cleveland School Superintendents' Association, and school districts throughout Northeast Ohio. She and her colleagues in the Education Law group, in concert with the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, provide ongoing legal updates to school board personnel and administrators.

Christina’s representative presentations include:

  • Spring is Here…and So Is IEP Season
  • Student Discipline for Off-Campus Speech
  • Staff Use of Technology: Common Pitfalls
  • Transgender Students: Common Issues and New Guidance
  • Achieving Procedural Perfection - Easier Said than Done!
  • Mastering the Skill of Preparing a Procedurally Compliant PR-01
  • The Process of Due Process
  • The Perils and Pitfalls of Social Media
  • Student Discipline Under the IDEIA and Section 504
  • Residency and Custody Legal Update
  • Education Reform Provisions of HB 153
  • Section 504 Legal Update - Impact of the ADAAA
  • Emerging Issues in Special Education Law and Compliance
  • Serving Emotionally Disabled Students in the Least Restrictive Environment
  • What Building Administrators Need to Know About Special Education
  • Documenting Student Progress Under the IDEIA
  • Writing Legally Defensible IEPs
  • Surviving Due Process
  • Student Privacy Issues and FERPA Compliance
  • Student Records, Evaluations and Avoiding Procedural Errors
  • Prime Time Title IX: The Tough Issues
  • Top Five Special Education Legal Blunders and How to Avoid Them
  • Highly Qualified Teachers - Special Attention for Special Education
  • Legal Update for Paraprofessionals Working in School Districts

Associations

  • Ohio State Bar Association
  • Ohio Council of School Board Attorneys

Podcasts

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