News from Thrun Law

July 31, 2020

Following several deaths involving police use of excessive force against black citizens, there has been a resurgence in efforts to remove Confederate monuments and symbols from public places. Re­latedly, there has been an uptick in questions from school officials asking whether they can ban students from wearing Confederate flag apparel (e.g., shirts, hats, belt buckles, masks) at school. Since displaying the Confederate flag is an expressive activity, a school’s prohibition against the...

July 27, 2020

As school boards undertake the arduous task of adopting a budget for the 2020-21 school year, school officials should be mindful of the State School Aid Act’s reporting requirements. Within 15 days after a school district, ISD, or public school academy board adopts its annual operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, or after a board adopts a budget revision, the school must post or provide a link to the budget on the school website’s homepage.

Schools must also post a summary of...

July 20, 2020

As reported in the April 30, 2020 edition of School Law Notes, a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a groundbreaking decision, ruling 2-1 that stu­dents have a constitutional right to a basic minimum education (i.e., a right to foundational literacy). Gary B. v Whitmer, Case No. 18-1855/1871 (CA 6, 2020). The Sixth Circuit did not award the students their requested relief. Instead, it sent the lawsuit back to the federal district court for a determination...

July 13, 2020

Thrun Law Firm is hosting monthly policy implementation meetings for interested school officials to assist districts with adopting the Thrun Policy Manual. The monthly review consists of two 2.5-hour meetings and will cover all 5 policy series in the Man­ual. Virtual meetings are scheduled for July 16 & 17 and August 13 & 14 from 8:30 am to 11:00 am. Any school administrator or board member who is interested in the Policy Service or who has submitted a Policy Service Order Form may...

July 6, 2020

The CARES Act, a federal economic stimulus package enacted in response to COVID-19, allocated $30.75 billion in emergency relief funds for schools. On April 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) approved MDE’s application for the Elemen­tary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), one of several funds available to educational institutions under the CARES Act. As a requirement of receiving ESSER funds, a local educational agency (LEA) must provide equitable services...

June 26, 2020

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision, ruling that Title VII’s protection against sex-based discrimination in the workplace applies to sexual orientation and gender identity. The decision consolidated three lower court cases in which employers admittedly terminated employees based only on the em­ployee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Those courts were split on the issue of whether Title VII prohibited such discrimination. Bostock v Clayton County...

June 22, 2020

With funding cuts inevitable for the 2020-21 fiscal year, it may be necessary for schools to eliminate or combine positions and lay off staff members. The legal and contractual requirements for layoffs vary greatly between employee groups and are dependent on statutory provisions, collective bargaining agreements, individual contracts, and board policy. Failure to adhere to legal and contractual requirements could negate the layoff and lead to potential liability.

The layoff process...

June 15, 2020

The Michigan Finance Authority (MFA) 2020 state aid note program materials, including the loan application, cash flow form, instructions, and calendar, are now available on the MFA’s website at www.michigan.gov/mfa. For general powers school districts and ISDs, click on “State Aid Note Program (SAN)” located under the “Finance Programs” heading on the MFA’s homepage. The filing deadline to submit application materials is Thursday,  July 2, 2020....

June 8, 2020

Given the present circumstances, it may be easy to forget to provide employees “reasonable assurance” for a job in the 2020-21 school year. Under the Michigan Employment Security Act, schools should provide em­ployees with reasonable assurance that they will have a position for the following school year. The reasonable assurance is not a guarantee of employment but is, instead, a good faith belief that a position will be available for the employee the following school year.

Providing...

May 30, 2020

On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education released long-awaited new regulations implementing Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based educational discrimination in schools receiving federal financial assistance. Schools are still responsible for appointing a Title IX Coordinator and for promptly and equitably investigating incidents of sex-based discrimination, including sexual harassment. But now, Title IX investigations are subject to a plethora of standards and procedures...

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