News from Thrun Law

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...

September 6, 2021

Many school officials hoped for a return to the “old normal” for this school year. Some COVID-19 guidance and laws, however, remain in effect. These include the CDC public transportation face mask order, the MDHHS order on reporting school-related COVID-19 cases, the Michigan COVID-19 Employment Rights Act, and the Michigan COVID-19 immunity legislation.

School officials should also check local health department orders for any continuing COVID-19 orders and guidance. With the...

August 27, 2021

School officials should review each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and consider whether a Contingency Learning Plan (CLP) should be created or modified for this school year.

In general, a CLP is a written plan that ad­dresses when a student may need to re­ceive special education and related services virtually or in an alternate format due to COVID-19. A CLP should describe the circum­stances that would trigger its use. It should also de­scribe the special education...

August 27, 2021

Many schools are considering a student face mask mandate. While some local health departments have issued mask mandates, there is currently no statewide order requiring students to wear face masks at school. Absent a local health department order, the choice is left to the school’s discretion. Where schools have required stu­dents to wear face masks, some parents have requested religious exemptions.

This article provides a brief overview of the legal standards for student religious...

August 27, 2021

In two grievance arbitrations handled by Thrun Law Firm, arbitrators found that Brighton Area Schools did not require its employees to work in an unsafe or hazardous environment during the 2020-21 school year. Those decisions reinforce that although some col­lective bargaining agreements (CBAs) have language requiring safe working conditions, that language does not guarantee a risk-free workplace during a pandemic.

In the first grievance, the teacher’s union alleged that the District’...

August 27, 2021

A school district may place millage and bond propositions on the ballot for the three regular election dates each year (four in a presidential election year), as well as certain petition initiative election dates.

The following 2022 regular election dates are available for voting millage or bond proposals:

May 3

August 2

November 8

A certified copy of the school board resolution approving ballot language for millage or bond proposi­tions must be filed with...

August 23, 2021

In light of the recent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Mahanoy Area Sch Dist v BL, this month’s Back to Basics article covers student speech.


August 16, 2021

The overabundance of ESSER funding has allowed many schools to substantially reduce, or even eliminate, their need for summer cash flow borrowings. For schools that issue a “no set-aside” note through the Michigan Finance Authority (MFA), meaning that at least a portion of the note matures in August, the MFA typically deducts the balance due on the prior year’s no set-aside note from current year’s borrowing and, if necessary, the August state aid payment.

But how will a 2020 no set-...

August 9, 2021

As you schedule professional development for the upcoming school year, do not forget about your school’s Title IX training obligations. Thrun Law Firm has received many inquiries about how frequently Title IX training should occur. The regulations do not specifically require annual training for those serving in key roles or annual awareness training. School officials, however, must ensure that all staff are trained – including employees hired after initial training has been completed.