News from Thrun Law

July 29, 2021

Neither the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services nor any other governmental agency has yet issued an order requiring students or staff to wear face masks for the upcoming school year. MDHHS, however, has released...

July 17, 2021

Schools are typically required by law, policy, or contract to conduct an investigation before an em­ployee is discharged, suspended without pay, or other­wise deprived of an employment benefit due to alleged misconduct. In light of a significant increase in the number of employee investigations we have seen, this article provides tips for school officials conducting or overseeing investigations. This article is not intended as a checklist for all employee investigations or to enu­...

July 12, 2021

As school boards adopt their budgets for the 2021-22 school year, school officials should be mindful that State School Aid Act Section 18 creates a timeline to post the annual budget and required financial infor­mation. Within 15 days after a school board adopts its annual operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year or adopts a subsequent budget revision, the school must post or provide a link to the budget on its or its ISD’s homepage.

Within the same timeframe, schools also must...

July 5, 2021

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) II funds as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Many school officials have asked us how they can spend those funds.

MDE, the pass-through entity and funds gatekeeper, issued a memorandum dated February 24, 2021, enumerating the allowable uses of ESSER II funds....

June 24, 2021

In a landmark decision issued June 23, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (8-1) that the First Amendment’s speech clause pro­tected profane Snapchats sent by a high school cheerleader from her personal phone to her friends while off-campus and outside school hours. Accordingly, the school could not discipline her for the mes­sages, which are protected speech. Mahanoy Area Sch Dist v BL, 594 U.S. ___ (2021).  The Court did not rule, however, that schools may never discipline...

June 21, 2021

School officials often inquire about whether they can use “cooperative purchasing” to satisfy statutory competitive bidding requirements. Cooperative pur­chasing typically involves piggybacking on an inter­governmental pool, bid cooperative, purchasing consortium, or group purchasing organization. If au­thorized by board policy, cooperative purchasing is permissible to procure supplies, materials, and equip­ment under competitive bidding requirements. Cooper­ative purchasing, however, is not...

June 14, 2021

In a recent published decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that documents discussed by a public body during a closed session meeting may be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Traverse City Record Eagle v Traverse City Area Pub Sch Bd of Educ, COA Docket No. 354586 (May 13, 2021).

The Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Board of Education convened a public meeting to con­sider complaints against then-Superintendent Ann Cardon....

June 7, 2021

Our April 26, 2018 edition of School Law Notes highlighted myriad changes to the Office of Civil Rights Case Processing Manual (CPM) that would directly affect schools. One of the most noteworthy changes to the CPM allowed OCR to dismiss a complaint in its entirety if the complaint was either (1) a continuation of a pattern of complaints previously filed with OCR against multiple recipients or (2) filed for the first time against multiple recipients, and the complaint placed an “an...

May 27, 2021

The Michigan Finance Authority (MFA) August 2021 state aid note program materials, including the loan application, cash flow form, instructions, and calendar, are now available on the MFA’s website at www.michigan.gov/mfa. For general powers school dis­tricts and ISDs, click on State Aid Note Program (SAN) located under the “Finance Programs” heading on the MFA’s homepage. The gen­eral powers school district and ISD filing deadline to submit...

May 24, 2021

Although there has been a recent emphasis on addressing sex-based harassment, school officials must also act promptly and appropriately to ensure they are not “deliberately indifferent” to harassment and dis­crimination based on other protected characteristics, including disability. A federal court in Pennsylvania re­cently denied a school’s motion to dismiss claims of dis­ability harassment and discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities...

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