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News from Thrun Law

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.

Posted 02.27.2017

Boards planning to nonrenew an administrator’s employment contract in the last year of the contract must take steps to comply with the timelines and procedural requirements contained in Section 1229 of the Revised School Code. Failure to follow the statutory nonrenewal process (or provisions in an employment contract) may result in automatic contract renewal for an additional year.

Posted 02.20.2017

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the potential disruptiveness of an employee’s speech is sufficient to outweigh its First Amendment value. Gillis v Miller, Case Nos. 16-1245/1249 (CA 6, January 6, 2017). Public employers do not need to wait until an employee’s speech causes an actual disruption in the workplace before taking action. If an employer can reasonably predict that an employee’s speech will cause disruption, then the First Amendment will not protect the employee from discipline.

Posted 02.15.2017

The Legislature recently passed a package of seven bills that will require school officials to consider various factors before suspending or expelling a student and to consider the use of restorative practices, regardless of whether a student is suspended or expelled. The new laws take effect August 1, 2017.

Factors to Consider Before Discipline

Posted 11.25.2016

“You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate” is perhaps a clichéd contracting mantra, but it continues to ring true. The days of a handshake agreement are waning in our increasingly litigious culture, and school districts are facing an increase in both the type and amount of business contracts – cleaning, transportation, food service, software licens­es, property acquisition and disposition, utilities, construction, professional services, and cooperative arrangements, to name a few.

Posted 11.24.2016

House Bill 4388 was recently signed into law as Public Act 319 of 2016. PA 319 amends Section 1212 of the Revised School Code to expand the permissible uses of a newly-approved sinking fund levy while reducing the maximum millage rate and duration of that levy.

Posted 11.23.2016

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal statute that allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks unpaid leave in a 12-month period. During FMLA leave, employees are entitled to health insurance ben­efits and the right to return to an equivalent position at the conclusion of that leave.

Posted 10.27.2016

The holiday season is fast approaching, bringing with it a sleigh full of legal landmines. Ho-ho-ho! Despite decades of legal precedent and guidance, the holiday season can generate First Amendment lawsuits, as an Indiana school learned recently.

Freedom from Religion Foundation v Concord Com­munity Schools (ND Ind, 2016)

Posted 10.27.2016

Sexting – electronically sending sexually explicit photos or messages – has increased among teenagers. A school investigation into sexting implicates many legal concerns: free speech, search and seizure, Title IX, mandatory child abuse reporting, and child pornography. While policymakers debate whether to modify laws to address teen sexting, school administrators must proceed carefully with student sexting investigations.

Free Speech