News from Thrun Law

June 22, 2020

With funding cuts inevitable for the 2020-21 fiscal year, it may be necessary for schools to eliminate or combine positions and lay off staff members. The legal and contractual requirements for layoffs vary greatly between employee groups and are dependent on statutory provisions, collective bargaining agreements, individual contracts, and board policy. Failure to adhere to legal and contractual requirements could negate the layoff and lead to potential liability.

The layoff process...

June 15, 2020

The Michigan Finance Authority (MFA) 2020 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 filing deadline to submit application materials is Thursday,  July 2, 2020....

June 8, 2020

Given the present circumstances, it may be easy to forget to provide employees “reasonable assurance” for a job in the 2020-21 school year. Under the Michigan Employment Security Act, schools should provide em­ployees with reasonable assurance that they will have a position for the following school year. The reasonable assurance is not a guarantee of employment but is, instead, a good faith belief that a position will be available for the employee the following school year.

Providing...

May 30, 2020

On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education released long-awaited new regulations implementing Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based educational discrimination in schools receiving federal financial assistance. Schools are still responsible for appointing a Title IX Coordinator and for promptly and equitably investigating incidents of sex-based discrimination, including sexual harassment. But now, Title IX investigations are subject to a plethora of standards and procedures...

May 25, 2020

Governor Whitmer signed into law Public Act 45 of 2020, effective June 1, 2020, which amends the Con­struction of School Buildings Act to permit a temporary door locking device or system to be installed in school buildings. The Act clarifies that this installation does not violate the Fire Code.

A “temporary door locking device or system” (lockdown device) is an “anchoring mechanism or sys­tem installed on the interior side of a door that, when engaged, secures the door against forced...

May 18, 2020

Distance learning presents unique and difficult challenges, especially for students with disabilities. School officials continue to struggle with how to pro­vide effective special education programming while still meeting their legal requirements under the Indi­viduals with Disabilities Education Act and Michigan law.

The Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education (MDE-OSE) recently released its Guidance for Compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities...

May 11, 2020

As the end of the school year approaches, school officials must make important and timely personnel de­cisions about the continued employment of probationary teachers and follow the applicable time­lines and procedures to nonrenew a probationary teacher’s contract. The COVID-19 crisis and the Gover­nor’s Executive Orders did not suspend or extend the probationary teacher nonrenewal timelines. Acting outside of the required timelines and procedures will result in an unintended contract...

May 4, 2020

In a landmark ruling, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that students have a constitutional right to a “basic minimum education,” meaning access to a foundational level of literacy. Gary B. v Whitmer, Case No. 18-1855/1871 (CA 6, 2020). For the first time, a court has ruled that the U.S. Constitution requires the State to provide an education with quality standards.

Since the 1990s, the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) has been subject to State control through...

March 23, 2020

Three years ago, the Michigan Legislature amended the Revised School Code to prohibit the use of seclusion and restraint in schools except in emergency situations. An “emergency situation” occurs when a student’s be­havior poses an imminent risk to the safety of the student or others.

School officials continue to confront legal and practical issues related to emergency seclusion and re­straint, particularly in identifying whether an action constitutes seclusion or restraint. The...

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