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News from Thrun Law

Posted 11.13.2017

When Andy Williams sang “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” he clearly was not singing to school administrators! The next couple of months can be stressful for school officials seeking to navigate the holiday season without violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Our gift to you is guidance on how to handle religious holidays at school.

The starting point is the Supreme Court’s three-part test for determining whether governmental activity complies with the Establishment Clause:

Posted 10.30.2017

The importance of obtaining “qualified status” each year from the Michigan Department of Treasury cannot be overemphasized. School districts, intermediate school districts, and public school academies that obtain qualified status are able to issue new bonds and notes faster and pay lower filing fees to the State of Michigan. Schools that do not obtain qualified status may experience signifi­cant delays in issuing bonds and notes during calendar year 2018.

Posted 09.28.2017

On September 15, 2017, the Michigan Department of Treasury notified all public employers of the “hard cap” contribution limits under the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act for medical benefit plans renewing after January 1, 2018. The 2018 cap amounts were increased by 3.4%. The adjustment is based on the change in the medical care component of the consumer price index for the previous 12-month period.

Posted 09.28.2017

The Michigan Department of Education recently announced the new threshold amount at which school districts, intermediate school districts, and public school academies must competitively bid for: (1) labor and materials for construction projects (Section 1267 of the Revised School Code (RSC)); and (2) the purchase of supplies, materials, and equipment (Sections 623a and 1274 of the RSC). For the 2017-18 fiscal year, the competitive bid threshold amount is $23,881.

Posted 09.28.2017

Does your school currently have a summer tax levy of either 50% or 100%? Does your school wish to continue levying summer taxes for the 2018 tax year? If the answer to both questions is “yes,” then your school’s board of education must adopt a resolu­tion to continue the summer tax levy and file a copy of that resolution with each city and township within your school’s boundaries on or before December 31, 2017. A suggested resolution form is attached to this newsletter.

Posted 09.11.2017

The Fire Prevention Code requires that local school districts, ISDs, and PSAs that operate any grades from kindergarten to grade 12 conduct various school safety drills throughout the school year. These drills include:

Posted 09.04.2017

Throughout the school year, we receive numerous questions about the appropriate language for, and how to implement, board policies and procedures that apply to students. Below are examples of some student-related board policies that should be in place to ensure a successful start to the school year.

Student Discipline

Posted 08.24.2017

As reported in the July 2017 edition of School Law Notes, local school districts, ISDs, and PSAs are required to implement a comprehensive seclusion and restraint training framework in accordance with Michigan Department of Education (MDE) guidelines that includes: (1) awareness training for all school personnel who have regular contact with students, and (2) comprehensive training for key identified personnel.

Posted 04.17.2017

On February 22, 2017, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education jointly released a new “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) rescinding previous guidance about transgender students. The DCL states that the previous guidance, which instructed schools to allow students to access sex-segregated facilities based on gender identity, will not be enforced by the depart­ments, citing a lack of legal authority as the basis for withdrawing the guidance.

Posted 04.10.2017

As part of our service to retainer clients, Thrun Law Firm, P.C., will host its annual client seminar at five locations this spring. Our spring seminars are pro­vided at no cost to our retainer clients. The registra­tion materials and other event details are attached. You may register online at:

www.thrunlaw.com/spring2017

Posted 04.09.2017

On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a student’s IEP must be “rea­sonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances” to satisfy a school’s obligation to provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education. Endrew F. v Douglas County Sch Dist, RE-1, No. 15-827 (March 22, 2017). The decision clarifies a 35-year-old legal standard adopted by the Court in Bd of Ed of Hendrick Hudson Central School Dist v Rowley, 458 US 176 (1982).

Posted 03.30.2017

In recent years, the Michigan Department of Treasury has moved to an online filing system for municipal finance forms, in­cluding the annual Qualifying Statement. Treasury’s new filing procedure has generated numerous questions and has resulted in some municipal forms being unnecessarily rejected due to simple, avoidable misunderstandings. 

Posted 03.20.2017

In our December 22, 2016, edition of School Law Notes, we discussed the Michigan Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Michigan Gun Owners, Inc v Ann Arbor Pub Schs, Docket No. 329632 (December 16, 2016).  In that case, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that public schools have the authority to adopt policies regulating, and in certain circumstances prohibiting, firearms possession on school property. Michigan Gun Owners, Inc.

Posted 03.13.2017

For intermediate school districts that do not have a popularly elected board of education, board membership is determined biennially on the first Monday in June pursuant to the Revised School Code. Under this process, a body composed of designated representatives from each constituent school district elects the ISD board. A calendar of significant dates for the 2017 biennial election follows this article.

Appointing a Representative

Posted 03.06.2017

The recent deluge of Freedom of Information Act requests serves as a reminder to schools to ensure that their FOIA policy is up to date and that administrators are well-versed in FOIA guidelines and procedures.