Pullman attorney authors book on Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Attorney Mark J. Sommaruga, who is a member of Pullman & Comley’s Labor, Employment Law and Employee Benefits Department and is chair of its School Law section, recently authored Understanding Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (5th Edition 2018).  This 146 page book is written primarily to provide guidance to public agencies and their members (and…

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UNDERSTANDING CONNECTICUT’S FOIA: Electronic participation by board members at meetings: When and how it can be “legal”?

A common problem for boards of education is getting enough members in attendance at a board meeting in order to have a quorum (usually, a majority of the board).  There may be times when a board member wishes to participate in the board’s business (and vote) at a particular meeting, but the member may be…

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As the Post-Janus Dust Settles….Is Direct Reimbursement Coming to Connecticut?

It’s been a little over four months since the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME Co. 31, 585 U.S. ___ (2018).  In Janus, as you’ll recall, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision held that agency shop provisions – which  mandate that public sector employees pay union dues or a…

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NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED – MAKE SURE YOU ARE DOCUMENTING ALL THE SERVICES BEING PROVIDED TO YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS

It’s a familiar scenario. A student, perhaps one with behavioral issues, is identified as being in need of special education.  The parties get together and draft an individual education plan [“IEP”] for the student.  The school, in an attempt to help the student who is still struggling, provides additional services to the student – perhaps…

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PERSONNEL MATTERS, THE CONNECTICUT FOIA AND COMMON MISTAKES

Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) generally provides access to both meetings and records of public agencies.  The FOIA does provide an exception to the open meetings requirements for certain “personnel matters,” namely, discussions “concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, provided that such individual may require…

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Connecticut Federal District Court Holds There Is No Fundamental Constitutional Right To A Minimally Adequate Education

In a long-standing effort to desegregate Connecticut’s schools, the State has created a myriad of educational options for families including inter-district magnet schools, charter schools and the open choice program that allow students in one district to attend open seats in schools in other districts. There are often long waiting lists for these schools and…

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United States Department Of Education Issues Letter Guidance Regarding Private Evaluator’s Access To Classrooms For Student Observation

Once again, the Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (“OSERS”) has weighed in on the rights of school districts to limit outside evaluators from accessing school classrooms. The most recent guidance addresses the issue of whether a public agency may limit the length of time an independent evaluator hired by a…

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DOES TRANSGENDER BATHROOM USE CREATE A SEXUALLY HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT? OCR AND THE DECATUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

In a worst-case scenario, the mother of a kindergarten student in the Decatur, Georgia Public Schools has claimed that a “gender fluid” student sexually assaulted her daughter while using the girls bathroom at the students’ elementary school. Decatur had implemented a policy permitting students to use the bathrooms of the gender with which they identify…

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TITLE IX STUDENT DISCIPLINARY CODES DEEMED CONTRACTS IN JOHN DOE V. THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

Words are not written in a vacuum, and they can bind the party that wrote them, regardless of whether that was the author’s intent. That was the lesson The George Washington University [“GW” or “University”] recently learned in John Doe v. The George Washington University, in which the United States District Court for the District…

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CROSS-EXAMINATION IN TITLE IX DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS DEEMED CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT IN DOE V. BAUM

In an extremely important decision for students accused of sexual misconduct, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently held in John Doe v. David H. Baum, et al. that when a Title IX student disciplinary proceeding comes down to a credibility determination, the accused student has a constitutional right under the…

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