News from Thrun Law

November 29, 2021

Each year, we receive questions about what schools may do to celebrate the holidays. Those celebrations - whether musical performances, decorative displays, or curricular activities - often involve religious content that implicates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Under the Establishment Clause, the...

November 15, 2021

If a school wants to borrow money, obtaining “qualified status” each year from the Michigan Depart­ment of Treasury is critical. Before issuing most types of debt, a school must either have: (1) qualified status; or (2) Treasury’s prior approval. This article provides a brief overview of the two processes and describes the steps a school must take to ensure it obtains qualified status.

Obtaining Treasury’s prior approval is the more costly and time-consuming option. This process often...

November 8, 2021

This month’s Back to Basics article addresses the legal parameters of student searches. When conducting a student search, school officials must understand and evaluate the Fourth Amendment issues that may be implicated.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreason­able searches and seizures” from the State, including public schools. Generally, students have a reasonable...

November 1, 2021

On September 30, 2021, MDE released the 2021-22 Pupil Accounting Manual (PAM). The new PAM is available at:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/_____2021_22_Pupil_Accounting_Manual_735936_7.pdf

This article highlights changes to the PAM in three specific areas.

Virtual Learning

State School Aid Act (SSAA) Sections 6 and 21f and PAM Section 5-O-D apply...

October 29, 2021

On September 29, 2021, Governor Whitmer signed the 2022 state budget bill, Public Act 87 of 2021(PA 87). PA 87 includes a pro­vision that prohibits and penalizes local health departments from issuing or enforcing certain COVID-19 orders or directives. We ad­dressed the impact of PA 87 on schools in our September 27, 2021 E-Blast, recommending that if a local health officer issues or main­tains an order requiring face masks in schools, school officials should contact their local...

October 1, 2021

Revised School Code Section 1613 allows a school district or ISD to direct local taxing jurisdictions to levy half or all school taxes on July 1 by filing a summer tax resolution with the local taxing jurisdictions. If your district currently has a summer tax levy and would like it to continue in 2022, your board of education must adopt a resolution and file a copy of that resolution with each city and township within the district’s boundaries on or before December 31, 2021.

Please...

October 1, 2021

The recent surge of FOIA requests received by many Michigan schools provides a timely opportunity to focus this month’s Back to Basics article on FOIA requirements.

Reviewing Requests

School officials often ask whether they must respond to a FOIA request if it is a “scam” or “not legiti­mate.” As a public body, a school is required to respond to all FOIA requests unless the requester is incarcer­ated in a state or local correctional facility or the re­quest...

October 1, 2021

One of the most significant changes in the 2020 Title IX regulations is the replacement of the “single in­vestigator” with four key roles in the Title IX grievance process: the Title IX Coordinator, the Investigator, the Decision-Maker, and the Appeals Officer. Most ques­tions we receive are about serving as the Investigator.

Investigator Selection

The roles of Investigator, Decision-Maker, and Appeals Officer must be held by different people in any given Title IX...

October 1, 2021

In last month’s School Law Notes, we provided a brief overview of the legal standards for student religious exemption requests. Em­ployee exemption requests, however, involve different considera­tions, which we review below.

Free Exercise of Religion

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that the First Amendment’s right to free exercise of religion does not relieve a per­son of the obligation to comply with valid and neutral laws of general...

October 1, 2021

October is National Principals Month. Having worked with Michigan school principals for 75 years, we are familiar with, and grateful for, the individuals who serve and lead Michigan’s schools. Principals are often on the front lines in school legal disputes, and their actions have significantly influenced legal standards governing schools.

Especially during the past two challenging school years, your commitment and devotion to school and community are keys to the long-term success of...

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