News from Thrun Law

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

Sexting – electronically sending sexually explicit photos or messages – has increased among teenagers. A school investigation into sexting implicates many legal concerns: free speech, search and seizure, Title IX, mandatory child abuse reporting, and child pornography. While policymakers debate whether to modify laws to address teen sexting, school administrators must proceed carefully with student sexting investigations.

Free Speech

While students do not shed their...

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...

October 27, 2016

Two federal courts recently dismissed unrelated Title IX claims against two Michigan school districts involving teacher-student sexual relationships. Irvin v Grand Rapids Pub Schs, Case No. 1:14-cv-1161 (WD Mich, September 27, 2016); Campbell v Dundee Cmty Schs, Case No. 15-1891 (CA 6, October 13, 2016). These decisions provide helpful guidance to school officials on how to respond to allegations of inappropriate teacher-student relationships.

Title IX prohibits sex-...

September 29, 2016

Public Act 249 of 2016 not only amended the state school aid budget and increased the pupil foundation allowance, it also appropriated funds for other school purposes and amended the State School Aid Act (SSAA) in ways that impose substantive requirements on schools. We want to highlight four important changes from PA 249.

Foundation Allowances

The State Maximum Guaranteed Foundation was increased to $8,229, and the Minimum Foundation was increased to $7,511. Despite...

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