Mirabilio v. Regional School District 16: Reduction in Hours v. Termination of Employment

In these fiscal times, school districts are confronted with difficult choices in restructuring their teaching workforce, with districts often having to consider the elimination of teaching positions.  A recent court case reminds us all that there is a middle ground, namely, the reduction of hours of teachers In Mirabilio v. Regional School District 16, 2013…

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Common Core Testing Opt-Out…..Is it Legal?

Connecticut’s roll-out of the Common Core State Standards has been, to put it mildly, controversial.  Critics of Common Core have decried what they perceive as the loss of local pedagogical control in favor of state and federal “Big Brotherism”.  Another sore spot is Common Core’s supposed emphasis on non-fiction texts over the tried and true…

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A Sneak Peak at the State Department of Education’s Legislative Proposals

The General Assembly is back in session.  This year is an even-year, short-session, which means that pursuant to Article Third, Section Two of the Connecticut Constitution, the business of the General Assembly is limited to consideration of “budgetary, revenue and financial matters, bills and resolutions raised by committees of the general assembly and those matters…

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Dear Colleague Letter Urges Districts to Abandon “Zero Tolerance” in Student Discipline Policies

The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice recently released a joint “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) providing guidance on administering student discipline without discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin. (“Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of…

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Bridgeport Board of Education v. NAEG, Local RI-200: What is the Appropriate Punishment for Actual and Perceived Threats in the Workplace?

We have all been emotionally touched by the tragedies in Columbine and Sandy Hook, not to mention workplace shootings such as those at Hartford Distributors and the Connecticut Lottery.  In that context, employers (and especially school administrators) have been ever mindful of warning signs of potential violence.  However, these same actors must counterbalance the need…

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Does Your School District’s Job Application Properly Address Criminal History?

From time to time, there is media coverage about a teacher or other public school employee who has been charged with a serious crime that occurred outside the school environment. If this employee had previous convictions or pending charges at the time of hire, the school district that employed the individual will invariably face a…

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Employee Theft of Employer Documents—Protected Conduct in Opposition to Discrimination or Criminal Activity?

What happens to board of education employees who steal board documents to support a lawsuit against their employer?  In New Jersey, at least, they are criminally prosecuted.  In State V. Saavedra, Docket No. A-1449-12T4 (Dec. 24, 2013)(link), the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the indictment of a North Bergen Board of Education [“Board”] employee who…

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Welcome to Education Law Notes

Welcome to Education Law Notes, Pullman & Comley’s blog on legal issues that pertain to public school districts, private schools, colleges and universities.  Few aspects of society more universally affect us than education, which is perhaps why few areas are more heavily regulated.  Educational institutions face legal issues in academics, labor and employment, free speech,…

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State’s Motion to Dismiss CCJEF Case Denied

As the Connecticut Mirror recently reported, on December 4, 2013, Hartford Superior Court Judge Kevin G. Dubay denied a motion filed by the State to dismiss Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, CV-05-405026-S.  As a result of Judge Dubay’s ruling, the litigation will continue and it at least tentatively appears that…

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What is the Difference Between FERPA and PPRA? Protecting Student Privacy and Confidential Education Records

Two important federal laws protect the privacy rights of all students: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C. 1232g, “FERPA” and Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, 20 U.S.C. §1232h, “PPRA.”  Both of these laws create obligations that should be incorporated into a school district’s operational policies. FERPA makes student educational records…

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