News from Thrun Law

October 12, 2020

On September 8, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its FAQs on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and COVID-19. The guidance addresses topics such as employee health screening, medical information confidentiality, and reasonable accommodations. It is available here:

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October 5, 2020

On August 26, 2020, MDE’s Office of Special Education (MDE-OSE) released return-to-school guidance (Guidance), which is available here:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/ReturntoSchool_699307_7.pdf

This long-awaited Guidance addresses “special education priority topics” for fall 2020 and contains FAQs addressing obligations...

September 25, 2020

As discussed in our August 19, 2020 E-Blast, Public Act 149 of 2020 (PA 149) requires schools to administer at least two “bench­mark assessments” to students in grades K-8 during the 2020-21 school year. On August 21, 2020, MDE released a memo providing additional guidance on these assessments.

Under PA 149, a benchmark assessment is any of the following:

  • A benchmark assessment from an MDE-approved provider.
  • A benchmark assessment that “contains progress monitor­...
September 21, 2020

Resolving a decades-long insurance dispute, the Michigan Supreme Court recently clarified that subcontractor mistakes damaging an insured’s work product may trigger commercial general liability insurance policy coverage. Michigan courts have historically denied coverage for damage claims related to a contractor's own work, permitting recovery only for damage to another’s property. Those rulings significantly limited insurance claims for a contractor’s defective work.

Now, per ...

September 17, 2020

School officials are making many difficult decisions heading into the 2020-21 school year. One area that has generated many questions is how schools should implement the Michigan Return to School Roadmap’s student face covering guidelines.

With limited exceptions, schools in Phase 4 must require face coverings for: (1) all students when on a school bus and in hallways and indoor common areas; (2) students in grades 6 and up when in classrooms; and (3) students in grades K-5 unless...

September 14, 2020

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed a trial court’s jury verdict that awarded $400,000 to a teacher for retaliation in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). Davis v Jackson Pub Schs, Case No. 344203 (July 2, 2020).

Pennie Davis was an art teacher and art curriculum chair at Jackson High School (District). Davis confronted a student after she overheard him making threatening statements about her. Davis directed the student to stop and go to the...

August 28, 2020

On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued new Title IX regulations, which took effect August 14, 2020. These regulations significantly amend schools’ obligations when addressing sex-based harassment complaints. To assist schools with meeting their obligations under the new regulations, Thrun Law Firm has developed a model Title IX policy package and is offering virtual comprehensive Title IX training.

The package consists of a model Board Policy for K-12 schools, a...

August 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic may prevent, or hinder, a party from fulfilling its contractual obligations. Failing to perform under a contract may constitute a contract breach, exposing the breaching party to liability, or relieving the non-breaching party of its obligations under the contract.

In determining whether to undertake efforts to enforce or avoid a contractual obligation, school officials should first review the contract language for applicable provisions, such as “force majeure”...

August 17, 2020

For districts with a July tax levy, local tax collecting units recently sent summer tax bills to school taxpayers. The municipalities will collect school taxes on behalf of those districts. Every year, however, some Thrun clients report belated disbursement of collected school tax revenue, causing unexpected cash flow problems. School officials should be aware that tax collecting units are required by law to timely transfer school tax revenues. While the flow of tax revenues may end up being...

August 10, 2020

On July 7, 2020, the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education (MDE) issued Guidance to Address Foregone Learning for Students with IEPs as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which encourages schools to consider whether to provide IDEA-eligible students “recovery services” to address “foregone learning” resulting from the COVID-19 school closure. MDE’s FAQ-style document is non-binding and is not intended to provide legal advice. The guidance is available at:...

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