News from Thrun Law

August 2, 2014

Vendors may offer seemingly simple financing packages to assist school districts in acquiring buses, copiers, technology, or other school equipment. We recommend that our clients not use the financing packages presented by equipment vendors.

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

July 24, 2014

As the school year comes to a close, many school officials must unfortunately consider program clo­sures for the 2014-2015 school year.  You are reminded that great care must be taken before eliminating a special education program, no matter how costly.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) recently investigated allegations that a Michigan school district’s closure of its pro­gram for students with emotional impairments vio­lated Section 504 of the...

July 9, 2014

Many school districts were recently notified by their health insurance providers of the need to opt in or out of “elective” abortion coverage. These notices were sent by health insurance providers pursuant to Michigan’s Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, PA 182 of 2013, which became effective March 14, 2014 (the “Act”).

The term “elective” abortion coverage is broadly defined in the Act to mean “the intentional use of an instrument, drug, or other substance or device to terminate a woman...

July 1, 2014

MERC recently issued two decisions reiterating that teacher layoff, recall, and placement decisions are prohibited bargaining subjects. According to MERC, school districts have no duty to adhere to settlement agreements containing prohibited bargaining subjects or to bargain over expired CBAs or past practices containing prohibited bargaining subjects.

Agreement over Prohibited Subject Is Unenforceable

In Pontiac School Dist and Pontiac Ed Ass’n...

June 27, 2014

On April 22, 2014, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming the Michigan Tax Tribu­nal’s decisions in Lowe’s Home Centers Inc v Township of Marquette, Docket No. 314111 (April 22, 2014) and Home Depot USA Inc v Township of Breitung, Docket No. 314301 (April 22, 2014). In both cases, the Tax Tribunal adopted the so-called “dark store” methodology of valuing “big box” stores for property tax assessments. This approach values a big box store property as if it...

June 23, 2014

 The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has issued a “significant guidance docu­ment” on Title IX and sexual violence. A copy of the guidance can be found on the OCR website at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-201404-...

June 16, 2014

A Michigan Employment Relations Commission (“MERC”) Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) recently held that a school district’s decision to unilaterally change from an 80/20 contribution to a “hard cap” during the term of a collective bargaining agreement, when hard cap was included in the agreement, vio­lated the Michigan Public Employment Relations Act (“PERA”). Garden City Pub Schs, Case No. C13 K-180 (April 25, 2014).

PA 152 requires public employers to limit their...

June 4, 2014

This year marked the 28th anniversary of Thrun Law Firm's School Law Update annual spring seminars.  The seminars, which were held in Mt. Pleasant, Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Livonia and Marquette, were offered at no charge to our retainer clients.  Our attorneys provided the nearly 400 school administrators and board members who attended with the most current information available in the areas of: Labor & Employment; Finance & Elections; Tax Tribunal Issues; Special Education;...

June 3, 2014

MERC recently rejected an unfair labor practice (“ULP”) charge alleging that the Pontiac School District violated a collective bargaining agreement by requiring teachers to collect student questionnaires and involuntarily transferring a teacher.  Pontiac Sch Dist, MERC Case No. C12 D-070 (March, 17, 2014).

After the collective bargaining agreement ex­pired, the district required its teachers to participate in a student questionnaire program. The district stat­ed that it would...

June 2, 2014

Recent changes to Section 47 of Michigan’s Cam­paign Finance Act require a communication (e.g., telephone call or television commercial) that refer­ences an election, candidate, or ballot question to contain a conspicuous statement identifying the per­son paying for the communication in certain circum­stances.

Under prior law, only a communication contain­ing express words of advocacy, such as “vote for,” “elect,” “cast your ballot for,” and “vote against,” was required to contain an...

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