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News from Thrun Law

Posted 10.27.2016

Two federal courts recently dismissed unrelated Title IX claims against two Michigan school districts involving teacher-student sexual relationships. Irvin v Grand Rapids Pub Schs, Case No. 1:14-cv-1161 (WD Mich, September 27, 2016); Campbell v Dundee Cmty Schs, Case No. 15-1891 (CA 6, October 13, 2016). These decisions provide helpful guidance to school officials on how to respond to allegations of inappropriate teacher-student relationships.

Posted 09.29.2016

Public Act 249 of 2016 not only amended the state school aid budget and increased the pupil foundation allowance, it also appropriated funds for other school purposes and amended the State School Aid Act (SSAA) in ways that impose substantive requirements on schools. We want to highlight four important changes from PA 249.

Foundation Allowances

Posted 09.29.2016

Does your school currently have a summer tax levy of either 50% or 100%? Does your school wish to continue with that authorization for the 2017 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, 2016. A suggested resolution form is attached to this newsletter.

Posted 08.26.2016

On July 19, 2016, the State School Reform/Redesign Officer (SRO) initiated meetings with school superintendents and board presidents who have underperforming buildings within their districts. Identified as “priority schools,” there are ap­proximately 184 underperforming school buildings targeted by the SRO.

The SRO requested that school officials meet by September 1 to discuss priority schools in their districts. In the meeting request, the SRO indicated that the following information would be provid­ed to each school district:

Posted 08.25.2016

Below is a brief overview regarding the SRO, the recent appointment of a CEO in East Detroit Public Schools, and Public Act 192 of 2016.

Background on the State School Reform/Redesign Office

In 2010, the State School Reform/Redesign Office was created. At that time, the SRO reported directly to the State Board of Education.  The SRO’s primary objective is to turn around the lowest achieving 5% of priority schools and ensure that these schools follow effective reform/redesign plans to improve their performance.

Posted 08.22.2016

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently issued a published decision explaining that “granting” a request for public records under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) is separate and distinct from “fulfilling” a request. Cramer v Village of Oakley, No. 330736 (Mich App, 2016).

Posted 08.15.2016

For school districts with a July tax levy, local tax-collecting units recently sent summer tax bills to district taxpayers. Those municipalities will collect school taxes on those districts’ behalf. Every year, however, some of our clients receive collected tax revenue late, causing unexpected cash flow problems. School officials should be aware that tax-collecting units have a statutory duty to timely transfer school tax revenues.

Posted 08.08.2016

As of 2006, roughly 88 percent of schools had at least one student with a food allergy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In response to the increasing number of students with food allergies, the Michigan Department of Education recently developed and released Food Allergy Guidelines for Michigan Schools.

Posted 08.01.2016

In a June 2, 2016 memo to local and ISD superintendents and public school academy directors, the Michigan Department of Edu­cation announced the commencement of an “appeals window” for the five most recent years of educator evaluation data in the Registry of Education Personnel (“REP”).

Posted 07.18.2016

As reported in the May 26, 2016, edition of School Law Notes, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced final rule changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (effective December 1, 2016) that significantly increase the salary amount an employee must earn to meet the administrative, executive, and professional exemptions from overtime pay. This article addresses proactive steps school officials should take to audit compensation practices to avoid legal liability under the FLSA. 

New Salary Basis Test

Posted 07.01.2016

Employees with disabilities are not exempt from maximum leave policies. Such policies, however, may need to be modified as a reasonable accommodation for disability-related absences, unless the employer can show that doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer.

Posted 06.30.2016

Public Act 194 was signed by Governor Snyder on June 21, 2016, amending Section 2a of Michigan’s Public Employment Relations Act (PERA), effective September 19, 2016, to revise the penalties and procedures for teacher strikes, MCL 423.202a.

New Procedures

Posted 06.13.2016

The Michigan Finance Authority’s (“MFA”) August state aid note pool application materials, including the loan application, cash flow form, instructions, and calendar, are now available on MFA’s website at www.michigan.gov/mfa. Click on “Finance Programs,” located on the left-hand side of the MFA homepage, scroll down to the “K-12 School Programs” heading, and click on “State Aid Note Program.” The filing deadline to submit the application materials is Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

Posted 06.06.2016

Since January of this year, our Thrun Evaluation Tracker articles have addressed the performance eval­uation system under Section 1249 of the Revised School Code. As the school year comes to a close, administrators may receive an appeal or protest from a teacher regarding a teacher’s evaluation. Section 1249 provides a narrow appeal procedure for certain teachers. Outlined below are the appeals process and common mistakes to avoid during the evaluation process.

Evaluation Appeals