Education Law Definition
Education law deals with public and private institutions at all levels – primary, secondary, and higher education. A comprehensive practice encompasses public finance, labor and employment, special education, taxation, real estate, litigation, intellectual property, and environmental and regulatory law.
Areas of coverage for public education (pre-Kindergarten – 12) typically include:
- Board organization/operations – ethics issues, sunshine laws, public records requests, and the development/revision of policies.
- Construction – public improvements, architect and construction contracts, competitive bidding documents and procedures.
- Federal and state employment laws – Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Title VII, Title IX, Americans With Disabilities Act, OSHA, workers’ compensation, reductions-in force, health benefits, pensions/retirement plans, tax sheltered annuities, evaluations, employment contracts.
- Financing – counseling and supervision of proceedings for debt and lease-based financing of capital improvements and for cash-flow financings including state law, federal tax, and securities law analysis and assistance.
- Labor relations and collective bargaining – employee grievances, arbitration, unfair labor practice claims, union negotiations, fact-findings, and impasse/strike preparations.
- Acquisition and disposition of property – office equipment, energy conservation measures, and the leasing, purchase, and sale of property.
- Special education law – counseling on compliance with Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, attendance at Individualized Education Program meetings, mediations, and due process hearings, staff training, legislative involvement, and court appeals.
- Student rights and responsibilities – custody, residency, transportation, discipline, student records/privacy, first amendment issues, and tuition.
- Territory transfers – procedures for district reorganization including annexation, consolidation and transfer.
For higher education institutions, many lawyers and firms act as general counsel. Areas of involvement include:
- Board of trustee meetings, functions, and resolutions
- Bond financing
- Bylaws, faculty guidelines and administrative manuals
- Litigation over testamentary gifts
- Executive compensation
- Development, fundraising, and implementation of gifts
- Taxation of income from ancillary sources
- Intellectual property ownership and licensing