Private & Independent Schools

Guided by decades of education law experience, the firm’s private and independent school law practice works with administrators, staff, and faculty of independent and private schools to promptly address unique legal issues affecting non-public schools. Our attorneys understand the cultural differences between public and non-public schools, and are uniquely suited to counsel school heads and others in dealing with emergent and other legal issues that impact private and independent schools.

 

Student Issues

Independent school heads need experienced school law counsel in addressing day-to-day student issues.

Our attorneys regularly counsel administrators concerning day-to-day student issues, ranging from student safety and disciplinary incidents, to constitutional concerns involving free speech and religious expression. We also analyze liability issues concerning student activities and facility usage.

Our attorneys provide counsel regarding student records and confidentiality, and provide practical guidance to administrators faced with parental and third party disputes involving school records. Our attorneys lecture extensively regarding student confidentiality, the maintenance of student records, and issues related to the retention and destruction of student records.

The Group also counsels schools concerning family issues such as the effect divorce and separation bears on access to student information, custody, and the educational participation of non-custodial parents.

We assist schools in evaluating student discipline in the technological age, where on-line and virtual communication may impact student behavior and communication. We review disciplinary and other conduct policies concerning student behavior, and provide practical guidance intended to reduce exposure and litigation.

 

Special Education

Federal and State laws concerning disabilities can affect the way private and independent schools educate their students.

The Group has broad experience in the area of special education. Although public schools face the most exposure under the laws that require accommodation for educational disabilities, we work closely with independent school administrators and faculty regarding compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with Disabilities Act, the medical leave acts, and other laws that require schools to offer accommodations for disabled students and employees.

 

Retirement and Benefit Plans

Our attorneys draft a range of benefits and financial plans commonly implemented by independent schools and review the tax consequences of these plans. We also work with deferred compensation plans and assist in the drafting and implementation of appropriate policies for the management of benefits.

 

Construction Law / School Contracts

The construction of new school facilities is complex and often leads to litigation. The Group provides counseling regarding the construction of new school facilities and the renovation of and/or addition to existing facilities. We review construction contracts, including bid specifications and plans. We also assist schools in responding to the receipt of proposals and the solicitation of quotes, and provide practical, hands-on counsel when disputes emerge to avoid litigation and difficulties related to construction delays.

 

Labor and Employment Law

Schools are confronted with legal issues involving employees on a daily basis.

The Group lectures extensively and is involved in a variety of labor/employment disputes, including confidentiality and reporting requirements for teachers and staff, and sexual harassment in the school setting, including teacher-to-teacher, teacher-to-student, and student-to-student harassment. We also assist administrators in the development and implementation of personnel policies, including the adoption of employment-at-will terms.

We have extensive experience involving disability and discrimination claims, and assist administrators with regard to performance and general, employment counseling.

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