News from Thrun Law

October 1, 2021

The recent surge of FOIA requests received by many Michigan schools provides a timely opportunity to focus this month’s Back to Basics article on FOIA requirements.

Reviewing Requests

School officials often ask whether they must respond to a FOIA request if it is a “scam” or “not legiti­mate.” As a public body, a school is required to respond to all FOIA requests unless the requester is incarcer­ated in a state or local correctional facility or the re­quest...

October 1, 2021

One of the most significant changes in the 2020 Title IX regulations is the replacement of the “single in­vestigator” with four key roles in the Title IX grievance process: the Title IX Coordinator, the Investigator, the Decision-Maker, and the Appeals Officer. Most ques­tions we receive are about serving as the Investigator.

Investigator Selection

The roles of Investigator, Decision-Maker, and Appeals Officer must be held by different people in any given Title IX...

October 1, 2021

In last month’s School Law Notes, we provided a brief overview of the legal standards for student religious exemption requests. Em­ployee exemption requests, however, involve different considera­tions, which we review below.

Free Exercise of Religion

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that the First Amendment’s right to free exercise of religion does not relieve a per­son of the obligation to comply with valid and neutral laws of general...

October 1, 2021

October is National Principals Month. Having worked with Michigan school principals for 75 years, we are familiar with, and grateful for, the individuals who serve and lead Michigan’s schools. Principals are often on the front lines in school legal disputes, and their actions have significantly influenced legal standards governing schools.

Especially during the past two challenging school years, your commitment and devotion to school and community are keys to the long-term success of...

September 6, 2021

Many school officials hoped for a return to the “old normal” for this school year. Some COVID-19 guidance and laws, however, remain in effect. These include the CDC public transportation face mask order, the MDHHS order on reporting school-related COVID-19 cases, the Michigan COVID-19 Employment Rights Act, and the Michigan COVID-19 immunity legislation.

School officials should also check local health department orders for any continuing COVID-19 orders and guidance. With the...

August 27, 2021

School officials should review each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and consider whether a Contingency Learning Plan (CLP) should be created or modified for this school year.

In general, a CLP is a written plan that ad­dresses when a student may need to re­ceive special education and related services virtually or in an alternate format due to COVID-19. A CLP should describe the circum­stances that would trigger its use. It should also de­scribe the special education...

August 27, 2021

Many schools are considering a student face mask mandate. While some local health departments have issued mask mandates, there is currently no statewide order requiring students to wear face masks at school. Absent a local health department order, the choice is left to the school’s discretion. Where schools have required stu­dents to wear face masks, some parents have requested religious exemptions.

This article provides a brief overview of the legal standards for student religious...

August 27, 2021

A school district may place millage and bond propositions on the ballot for the three regular election dates each year (four in a presidential election year), as well as certain petition initiative election dates.

The following 2022 regular election dates are available for voting millage or bond proposals:

May 3

August 2

November 8

A certified copy of the school board resolution approving ballot language for millage or bond proposi­tions must be filed with...

August 27, 2021

In two grievance arbitrations handled by Thrun Law Firm, arbitrators found that Brighton Area Schools did not require its employees to work in an unsafe or hazardous environment during the 2020-21 school year. Those decisions reinforce that although some col­lective bargaining agreements (CBAs) have language requiring safe working conditions, that language does not guarantee a risk-free workplace during a pandemic.

In the first grievance, the teacher’s union alleged that the District’...

August 23, 2021

In light of the recent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Mahanoy Area Sch Dist v BL, this month’s Back to Basics article covers student speech.

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