Charter School Practice
The firm’s Charter School practice section is devoted to providing the highest quality legal representation and advice to charter schools (K-12). The firm has been providing competent, timely and cost-effective advice to public educational entities for over 40 years and has been representing charter schools since their inception in Arizona. The firm has breadth and depth of knowledge and skill in virtually all areas of need and currently represents more than 60 charter schools throughout Arizona. Our attorneys are readily available to help our clients with the myriad of issues that occur on a regular basis, as well as unique issues that may arise. A few examples of some of the most common matters we handle for our charter school clients including the following:
Formation of Corporations, Corporate and Governing Board Governance Matters
The firm is uniquely equipped to provide not only assistance with corporate formation but also governing document formation with a view toward compliance with state laws applicable to charter schools and also qualification for tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. An entity’s governing documents play an important part of the overall structure and operation of a charter school.
Fiscal and other Statutory Compliance
The firm regularly provides legal advice and representation to its educational law clients on the rules, regulations and laws applicable to such organizations. By virtue of an organization’s charter contract with the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, a charter school is considered a public school in many respects and therefore is subject to a number of administrative and statutory requirements.
Students with Disabilities
Firm attorneys have a wealth of experience providing legal advice and assistance on matters pertaining to Federal and State laws protecting students with disabilities, such as Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For example, the firm:
- Provides legal advice and assistance to ensure compliance with Federal and State disability laws.
- Assists clients in responding to parent complaints alleging disability discrimination.
- Represents clients in legal proceedings relating to disability law matters, such as complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Arizona Department of Education. With respect to state complaints, the firm routinely represents its education law clients in state special education complaint matters, special education due process hearings, resolution and mediation meetings.
The firm regularly provides legal advice and representation to its educational law clients on employment law/personnel matters. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
- Employee discipline.
- Employment contracts.
- Development of policies relating to employees.
- Compliance with Federal and State laws such as, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Worker’s Compensation, and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Legal representation in connection with complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Department of Justice, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Arizona’s Civil Rights Division.
- Employment litigation.
Firm attorneys are available to provide legal advice and representation regarding Arizona’s open meeting laws, conflict of interest, public records laws and other laws with which governing board members and school personnel must comply. For example, the firm:
- Provides training, advice and assistance to help ensure charter school compliance with these laws.
- Develops appropriate prototypes or meeting specific notices, agendas and minutes for charter schools.
- Responds to complaints made by third parties alleging a violation of these laws.
- Assists clients in responding to media requests for documents and information.
- Represents governing boards and school personnel in legal actions filed under these statutes.
The firm has a wealth of experience advising charter schools on the constitutional and statutory rights and responsibilities of students, representing charter schools in student discipline hearings, and defending charter schools against claims brought by students and parents. For example, the firm:
- Drafts policies and administrative regulations on student related matters; Develops comprehensive inventories of topics which should be included in student handbooks for elementary and high school students and prepared text for handbooks.
- Develops comprehensive student disciplinary procedures for charter schools, including procedures for special education students and students protected by Section 504. Also develops related forms, scripts, agendas, hearing documents and flow charts.
- Advises charter schools on matters such as student dress code, religious activities, student clubs, freedom of expression, freedom of association, school fees, admission issues, promotion and retention, open enrollment, search and seizure, drug testing, extracurricular activities and athletics.
- Advises charter schools on how to comply with the requirements of No Child Left Behind that relate to students.
- Represents charter schools in evaluating, advising, defending, and litigation of claims by students who are suspended or expelled.
- Advises charter schools regarding student records and compliance with FERPA.
- Investigates student allegations of teacher misconduct.
Real Estate Acquisitions/Disposals, Easements and Leases
Firm attorneys assist clients with a range of property matters, including but not limited to:
- Providing legal advice and representation relating to the sale, acquisition and lease/purchase of real property, including preparation of deeds and escrow instructions, addendums to leases, purchase agreements, easements, refinancing and hazards.
- Negotiating and drafting agreements for the installation of telecommunication towers (aka cell site towers) on client property.
- Evaluating claims and representing clients in lawsuits pertaining to real estate contract disputes, condemnation actions and similar matters.
Document Development & Policy Review
The firm knows that compliance with the law and efficient operations of the organization is enhanced when “form follows function”. To that end, the firm regularly assists its education law clients to develop policies, regulations, procedures, handbooks and forms that fit the function for which they are needed. For example, the firm:
- Develops forms and scripts for charter schools to utilize in board hearings and proceedings.
- Develops ADA Accommodation plan formats.
- Develops policies and manuals for employees, parents and students.
- Develops charts and checklists to ensure compliance with various laws.
The firm strongly believes that education and training of governing board members and school employees will facilitate efficient operations, prevent legal problems, and provide a greater measure of protection when legal problems do arise. To that end, the firm has done an extensive amount of training and education for individual charter schools and by presenting at local, regional and state conferences on a wide variety of topics that affect charter schools.
In addition to the above, firm attorneys also have the expertise and experience to assist its charter school clients with the following types of matters:
- Construction law and litigation
- Employee benefits
- General civil litigation
- Day to day advice on federal and statutory compliance
- Parent and student complaints