News from Thrun Law

March 20, 2017

In our December 22, 2016, edition of School Law Notes, we discussed the Michigan Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Michigan Gun Owners, Inc v Ann Arbor Pub Schs, Docket No. 329632 (December 16, 2016).  In that case, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that public schools have the authority to adopt policies...

March 6, 2017

The recent deluge of Freedom of Information Act requests serves as a reminder to schools to ensure that their FOIA policy is up to date and that administrators are well-versed in FOIA guidelines and procedures.

FOIA officers should grant routine FOIA requests as soon as possible to avoid undue delay and the risk of losing track of unfulfilled requests. After receiving a FOIA request, school officials have only five business days to either grant or deny the request, in whole or in part...

February 27, 2017

Boards planning to nonrenew an administrator’s employment contract in the last year of the contract must take steps to comply with the timelines and procedural requirements contained in Section 1229 of the Revised School Code. Failure to follow the statutory nonrenewal process (or provisions in an employment contract) may result in automatic contract renewal for an additional year.

The nonrenewal process for a school administrator (other than a superintendent) is multi-stepped and...

February 20, 2017

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the potential disruptiveness of an employee’s speech is sufficient to outweigh its First Amendment value. Gillis v Miller, Case Nos. 16-1245/1249 (CA 6, January 6, 2017). Public employers do not need to wait until an employee’s speech causes an actual disruption in the workplace before taking action. If an employer can reasonably predict that an employee’s speech will cause disruption, then the First Amendment will not protect...

February 15, 2017

The Legislature recently passed a package of seven bills that will require school officials to consider various factors before suspending or expelling a student and to consider the use of restorative practices, regardless of whether a student is suspended or expelled. The new laws take effect August 1, 2017.

Factors...

November 25, 2016

“You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate” is perhaps a clichéd contracting mantra, but it continues to ring true. The days of a handshake agreement are waning in our increasingly litigious culture, and school districts are facing an increase in both the type and amount of business contracts – cleaning,...

November 24, 2016

House Bill 4388 was recently signed into law as Public Act 319 of 2016. PA 319 amends Section 1212 of the Revised School Code to expand the permissible uses of a newly-approved sinking fund levy while reducing the maximum millage rate and duration of that levy.

Under the prior law, a sinking fund could only be used for the construction or repair of school buildings or to purchase real es­tate. Sinking fund dollars could not be used to purchase any loose equipment, which is...

November 23, 2016

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal statute that allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks unpaid leave in a 12-month period. During FMLA leave, employees are entitled to health insurance ben­efits and the right to return to an equivalent position at the conclusion of that leave.

There are strict procedures and...

October 27, 2016

The holiday season is fast approaching, bringing with it a sleigh full of legal landmines. Ho-ho-ho! Despite decades of legal precedent and guidance, the holiday season can generate First Amendment lawsuits, as an Indiana school learned recently.

Freedom from Religion Foundation v Concord Com­munity Schools (ND Ind, 2016)

For many years, Concord High School’s annual “Christmas Spectacular” show ended with a 20-minute living nativity scene that included Bible readings...

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