News from Thrun Law

November 27, 2019

MDE’s Office of Special Education recently issued two guidance documents intended to ensure compliance with state and federal law when drafting and amending individualized education pro­grams (IEPs). One updates MDE’s previous guidance on shortened school days, and the other provides new guidance on measurable annual goals and short-term objectives for a student’s IEP. Both doc­uments apply to students who are eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education...

November 18, 2019

Effective October 1, 2019, a school may count up to 38 hours of qualifying professional development (QPD) for teachers as hours of student instruction for state school aid.

Pursuant to State School Aid Act Section 101(10), “qualifying” professional development must:

  1. align with the school or district’s improvement plan in which the professional development is provided;
  2. link to one or more criteria of the district’s teacher evaluation tool;
  3. be approved by...
November 11, 2019

School officials should strive to reach consensus in individualized education program (IEP) Team meet­ings and at manifestation determination reviews (MDRs). In some cases, however, consensus may not be possible. Nonetheless, the team should not “vote.” If the team cannot agree on an IEP decision or whether a stu­dent’s behavior was a manifestation of the student’s disability, the school representative is responsible for making a final decision on the school’s behalf (con­sistent with...

November 4, 2019

For a school that wants to borrow money, obtaining “qualified status” each year from the Michigan Department of Treasury is critical. Before a school issues most types of debt, it must either have qualified status or Treasury’s prior approval.

The costlier and time-consuming prior approval process often causes significant delays. Treasury has up to 30 business days (i.e., six calendar weeks) to evaluate a prior approval application which, without qualified status, must be submitted...

November 4, 2019

We hope that you had a safe (and dry!) Halloween.  As promised, here are the identities of the guys and ghouls in our Halloween collage – pictured left to right, front to back:

Alexis Yenshaw (Angel), Sandy Bashore (The EPA), Leaha Apsey (Escaped Convict), Phil Clark (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo), Vinh Tran (Vinhy the Pooh), Jennifer Starlin (Growing Jack-O-Lantern), Connie Bila (Pollyless Pirate), Gordon VanWieren (Sweaty Yeti), Carrie Watts(The Big Bad Wolf in Granny’s...

November 1, 2019

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a final rule amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations. The amended regulations, effective January 1, 2020, increase the salary amount an employee must earn to meet the administrative, execu­tive, and professional exemptions from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. This is known as the “salary level test.” School officials should take steps to ensure compliance by January 1, 2020.

New Salary Level...

October 21, 2019

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the decisions of which are binding in Michigan, recently found that a Tennessee school district did not violate a former coach’s First Amendment rights when school officials issued him a letter of guidance directing him to remove an unauthorized photo of students from his social media account. Sensabaugh v Halliburton, Case No. 18-6329 (CA 6, 2019). The Sixth Circuit also determined that the district’s decision to terminate the coach due to...

October 14, 2019

School officials authorized to purchase real estate for their schools are often eager to put pen to paper af­ter finding reasonably priced property. A real estate purchase agreement should, however, be carefully scrutinized before signing to ensure that the agreement provides the school with an opportunity for adequate due diligence. Purchasing property without performing due diligence could result in significant liability for the school.

Environmental Due Diligence

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October 7, 2019

With school back in full swing, school officials must take care to comply with the Individuals with Disabili­ties Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Reha­bilitation Act to identify students with disabilities who may require special education and related services.

IDEA Requirements

The IDEA and its implementing regulations place an affirmative duty on public schools to ensure that all students with disabilities who need special education and related services...

October 3, 2019

Due to popular demand, Thrun Law Firm is offering a second Title IX training for school officials on November 21, 2019, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at Thrun’s East Lansing office. The training will include a review of legal standards and policy requirements, recent decisions, and how to conduct and document a complete and thorough Title IX investigation. The cost is $95.00 per person for retainer clients and $195.00 per person for non-retainer clients. To reserve your seat, please return...

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