News from Thrun Law

April 28, 2016

High school graduation season is fast approaching. Because of the emotional and social significance at­tached to this important milestone, school officials should be prepared to prevent and resolve legal dis­putes. Appropriate policies and a general understanding of the applicable legal standard can guide school officials through graduation-related challenges.

Diplomas and "Walking"

School officials should not deny diplomas as a means of disciplining students who have...

April 2, 2016

School officials often encounter vendors offering seemingly simple financing packages to assist schools with paying for buses, copiers, or other school equip­ment. Those financing packages should be evaluated carefully because they may contain unfavorable or illegal provisions.

A financing package typically uses a lease purchase agreement (“LPA”) or other form of lease financing with a third-party financing company. Under an LPA, a school avoids creating a debt obliga­tion by pledging...

April 1, 2016

After returning from spring break, school administrators face the daunting task of wrapping up teacher evaluations and making difficult personnel decisions. Recent changes in the law will affect those decisions.

Wrapping Up Year-End Evaluations

The Revised School Code requires that a teacher’s annual year-end evaluation include specific perfor­mance goals that will assist in improving the teacher’s effectiveness for the next school year. To comply, ad­...

March 31, 2016

In a case handled by Thrun Law Firm, an administrative law judge for the Michigan Employment Relations Commission recently ruled that a school did not unlawfully refuse to bargain over sever­al expiring contract provisions containing prohibited bargaining subjects, including the prohibited subject of teacher discipline. Ionia Pub Schs v Ionia Ed Ass’n, Case No. C13 F-107 (February 22, 2016).

Based on recent MERC decisions, we now have a better understanding of the breadth of...

March 14, 2016

As the end of the school year approaches, schools planning to nonrenew an administrator’s employment 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.

Section 1229 provides that school districts and ISDs “may employ assistant superintendents,...

March 7, 2016

School board elections take place on even-year November general election dates. Candidates who plan to run for their local school board at the November 2016 election must file an Affidavit of Identity and ei­ther a nonpartisan nominating petition or a nonre­fundable fee with the County Clerk’s office by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Failure to file an Affidavit of Identity and the petition or fee by this deadline will bar the candidate from appearing on the ballot....

February 25, 2016

On February 5, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan issued a preliminary in­junction prohibiting the State of Michigan and the Secretary of State from enforcing Section 57(3) of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act (“CFA”). Taylor v Johnson, Case No. 16-10256 (ED Mich, 2016).

Section 57(3) of the CFA was added by Public Act 269 of 2015, which, among other things, generally prohibits schools and other public bodies from refer­encing a ballot question...

January 11, 2016

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (“OSERS”) recently issued a “Dear Colleague” letter reminding school officials that an individualized education program for a student with a disability must be “aligned with the State’s academic content stand­ards for the grade in which the student is enrolled.” Dear Colleague Letter, 66 IDELR 227 (November 16, 2015). The Department of Education has designated the letter a “significant guidance document.” The let­ter, which is...

January 4, 2016

Schools that have outstanding tax credit bonds must annually complete and file Form 1097-BTC with the IRS. For tax year 2015, Form 1097-BTC must be filed with the IRS on or before February 29, 2016 (or March 31, 2016, if filed electronically).

Tax credit bonds differ from conventional school bonds because the bond purchaser receives a tax credit in lieu of, or in addition to, periodic interest payments. The tax credit is based on the principal amount of the bonds. The tax credit rate...

December 28, 2015

With the first half of the school year ending, school officials should turn their attention to midyear progress reports for certain teachers. Section 1249 of the Revised School Code requires that teacher evaluations include a midyear progress report for two groups of teachers: (1) all first year probationary teachers; and (...

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