Breadth of Representation
The firm’s School Law Team currently provides legal representation to over 75 school boards throughout Virginia and in other states and has represented governmental entities in addition to school boards. Members of the team have a combined total of over 80 years’ experience practicing all aspects of education law. This expertise has been developed through engagements representing school boards in all aspects of their operations.
Leadership and Experience
Various members of the team have lectured on a national basis on legal issues affecting education. They serve as special counsel to the Virginia School Boards Association and two members are past chairmen of the Virginia Council of School Attorneys. One member recently completed a second term on the National School Board Association’s Council of School Attorneys Board of Directors. Another member holds graduate degrees in elementary education and educational psychology, and taught in public elementary regular and gifted education prior to law school.
Service on College Boards
Team members also derived experience from service on two college boards. One member of the team served as Rector and was a member of the Board of Visitors of Longwood University from 1988-1996. Another team member was a member of the Board of Visitors of Mary Washington College from 1989-1997 and served as Rector. That same member is currently President of the Mary Washington College Alumni Association.
What We Do
Team members have extensive experience representing school boards in state and federal litigation.
School Board Policies and Regulations
Members of the team routinely advise school boards regarding the necessity and appropriateness of policies and regulations. Team members keep current on state and federal law, and assist clients in updating their policies and regulations when necessary.
Team members provide legal advice concerning compliance with federal and state statutes affecting public education, including the No Child Left Behind Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Privacy Protection Act, and State and Local Government Conflict of Interest Act. One of the team members was a member of the task force which drafted the Virginia Public Procurement Act, and renders advice on that Act to a number of public entities. He also interpreted the Conflicts of Interest Act while a member of the Attorney General’s Office.
Special Education Law
Team members represent many school boards in special education matters, including eligibility, placement, IEP and due process matters. This representation has included involvement in many of the administrative hearings and litigation involving special education matters in Virginia and other states. Team members have extensive experience and knowledge about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Team members handle many special education administrative hearings and complaints each month, and team members participate in suits in the federal and state courts involving special education. One member of the team was selected as one of eight attorneys from across the country representing school boards and practicing special education law to serve on a national advisory board. The Board, known as the Special Education School Attorneys Council, provides advice to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Reporter and puts on an annual national conference. This member is currently chairman of the Committee.
The school law team advises school boards on personnel issues, including grievances, dismissals, and other disciplinary matters involving certificated and classified personnel. Team members handle grievance procedures from the administrative hearings through court proceedings. Individual members of the team have litigated the discharge of personnel and have participated in the procedure accompanying the removal of a superintendent. Team members are involved on a daily basis with personnel decisions, and have extensive knowledge of the complicated statutes and regulations concerning public school personnel. Furthermore, team members have drafted position statements in response to EEOC investigations, and have litigated employment discrimination cases in state and federal law.
Student Matters; FERPA
Team members routinely advise clients on application of disciplinary and zero tolerance policies, and will participate in student disciplinary procedures if needed. Several team members are proficient in the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and related state statutes. The school law team advises clients on the various requirements under FERPA, and informs its school boards on developments in the law.
Civil Rights Act and Constitutional Law: Freedom of Speech and Religion, Searches and Seizures, Due Process, and Equal Protection Matters
Team members are well-versed in the complicated constitutional issues that arise in public education. Team members have written various documents and articles about the constitutional protections enjoyed by public school children, and implications for public school systems.
Several team members have extensive experience litigating First Amendment freedom of speech and religion issues, as well as Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection issues, in state and federal court. Team members understand the constitutional implications of internet use and other technology in and out of the schools by students and teachers. Additionally, the school law team routinely advises their public school clients on the legality of searches and seizures involving students.
Construction Law and Acquisition of Real Property
Members of the school law team have considerable experience in the area of construction law, having represented the State Division of Engineering and Buildings, and have drafted construction documents and represented school boards in construction related matters, including litigation. Team members have numerous years of experience assisting public school boards with the purchase of real property to build and expand schools.
Condemnation and Eminent Domain Proceedings
Several team members are experts in Virginia’s eminent domain proceedings, and have litigated a number of condemnation matters for school systems. Members have extensive negotiation skills, and vast knowledge of the comprehensive takings and condemnation law.
Insurance and Risk Management
Members of the team have expertise in insurance and risk management matters. The firm handles defense work for some of the insurance carriers who provide coverage for school boards.