News from Thrun Law

May 13, 2024

Michigan law requires that public schools adopt their annual budgets before July 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year. A taxing entity, including a school district or ISD, must implement the truth-in-taxation process if its anticipated operating tax revenue will exceed what it collected in the previous fiscal year (with exceptions for certain taxable additions). Elements of this process include: (1) publishing a newspaper notice, (2) holding a truth-in-taxation public hearing, and (3...

May 6, 2024

As schools enter contract negotiations with unions representing professional staff, board negotiators must consider the Michigan Teachers’ Tenure Act (the “Act”) before agreeing to terms that implicate teacher evaluation, discipline, placement, and layoff/recall systems. For example, a teacher placement or layoff/recall system that prioritizes tenured teachers over probationary teachers violates Article II, Section 2a of the Act, which states: “A probationary teacher who is rated effective...

April 26, 2024

Many public officials, including school board members and administrators, maintain an active social media presence in their individual capacities. On March 15, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous opinion that a government official’s “comments” and “likes” on their personal social media account may constitute state action and implicate the First Amendment. Lindke v Freed, 601 US __ (2024).  

James Freed converted his private Facebook page to a public figure “page...

April 22, 2024

School officials must remember to comply with one of the Open Meetings Act’s (OMA) often misunderstood provisions: closed sessions. For Thrun Policy Service subscribers, Thrun Policy 2501 provides detailed instructions for OMA and closed session compliance.

Entering Closed Session

The OMA permits a school board to enter closed session for several different purposes through an appropriate motion and vote. A two-thirds roll call vote of those board...

April 15, 2024

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose decisions are binding in Michigan, recently dismissed an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit by a delivery driver who alleged that his employer discriminated against him because of a disability. The employee claimed that his employer violated the ADA by transferring him to a lower-paying position and by refusing to provide a reasonable disability accommodation. Cooper v Dolgencorp, LLC, Case No. 23-5397 (CA 6, 2024). The Sixth...

April 8, 2024

According to a recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision, public school teachers are not considered a “public body” under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and records created and retained by an individual teacher are not public records subject to disclosure. Litkouhi v Rochester Community Schools, Case No. 364409 (Mich Ct App, 2024).

The FOIA requester sought a teacher’s “lesson plans, readings given to students (articles, publications, case studies), viewings (...

March 29, 2024

In 2011, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Michigan law prohibited using public resources to administer a payroll deduction plan for employee contributions to the MEA’s political action committee (PAC). MEA v Secretary of State, 489 Mich 194 (2011). That decision was codified in 2012 through amendments to the Michigan Campaign Finance Act and the Wages and Fringe Benefits Act.

Supported by nearly a dozen labor organizations (including the MEA), legislation effective...

March 25, 2024

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) demands the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth! Recently, the Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 316 of 2023, which amends the Public Health Code to require a child’s parent, guardian, or person in loco parentis (i.e., the person legally responsible for the child) to provide a dental oral assessment for the child before the child’s first school enrollment.

Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year...

March 18, 2024

To avoid an unintended contract extension or obtainment of tenure, school officials must follow the applicable timelines and procedures to non-renew a probationary teacher’s contract.

Probationary Period

Amendments to RSC Section 1249 (teacher evaluation) and to the Teachers’ Tenure Act (probationary period for non-tenured teachers) take effect July 1, 2024. For the rest of this school year, RSC Section 1249 remains unchanged. Teachers must serve an...

March 11, 2024

Public Act 236 of 2023, effective February 13, 2024, adds Section 11a to the Public Employment Relations Act. Section 11a requires within 30 days after hiring a bargaining unit employee, a school must provide employee information to the union representing that bargaining unit regardless of the employee’s dues paying status. Additionally, every 90 days a school must provide that information to each bargaining unit employee’s union. Section 11a does not specify when the 90-day period starts....

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