Our decades-long history of representing school districts, boards of education, and school personnel has provided our attorneys with experience concerning most legal issues faced by schools. We regularly work with school clients on contracts for teaching and non-teaching employees and administrators, student discipline, special education, competitive bidding, public records and open meetings, religious expression, FERPA, attendance and tuition, and many other school-related and labor and employment issues.
Our attorneys represent school clients in litigation in state and federal courts and in disputes before governmental agencies in matters involving constitutional questions, employment discrimination claims, immunity issues, and other claims under state or federal laws. We also represent both public and private colleges and universities and can assist with litigation, labor and employment questions, drafting of policies and procedures, and other concerns.
With our extensive background in public law, Spengler Nathanson’s lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable about Ohio’s competitive bid laws. We often advise school districts and other public clients regarding situations in which bidding is required, selection of qualifying bids, and strengths or weaknesses of challenges to the bid process, and have successfully defended against such challenges in court.
Our attorneys regularly advise schools and other governmental clients regarding situations that could lead to a constitutional dispute, and defend them when constitutional claims are raised. We work with clients on a variety of constitutional questions, including free speech and religious expression under the First Amendment, search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, and equal protection and due process claims. We handle these issues at all stages, from providing preliminary advice through litigation in state and federal courts.
Spengler Nathanson’s experienced employment lawyers often counsel employers on whether proposed employee discipline or discharge is likely to withstand challenge in any number of forums available to employees. We have secured for employers the dismissals of hundreds of claims regarding employee discipline, in court, in grievance arbitrations, and before agencies such as the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Ohio State Employment Relations Board and the National Labor Relations Board.
Employee handbooks are excellent tools for establishing consistent employment practices and preserving employer flexibility for the management of its workforce. Attorneys at Spengler Nathanson frequently review employee handbooks for compliance with federal and state employment laws and recommend language and policies to protect employers and their businesses.
Our attorneys focus on defending school clients facing charges or lawsuits alleging employment discrimination. Although the law is well-intended to protect employees from workplace discrimination and provide remedies when such discrimination occurs, it isunfortunately common for schools to have to defend againstunfounded claims of employment discrimination. In those situations, schools should have such claims dismissed at the earliest possible time. Our lawyers have secured the dismissals of hundreds of employment discrimination claims before the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and in state and federal courts.
Our attorneys regularly advise school districts on questions pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and Ohio’s companion law protecting student privacy. We are experienced on issues concerning student records, including report cards, disciplinary records, personal and family information, transcripts, and class schedules. We understand that sensitive questions can arise under FERPA and have counseled clients regarding disclosure requirements and prohibitions and how to handle situations involving child custody and domestic violence.
Spengler Nathanson lawyers counsel school clients on compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act since it became effective in 1994. Our experience with the FMLA includes eligibility and coverage issues, employee notices, medical certifications, insurance continuation, intermittent leave, concurrent leave, and FMLA abuses.
The lawyers of Spengler Nathanson’s education law section have handled hundreds of grievance arbitrations involving employee discharges, employee discipline, and labor contract interpretation disputes, from the preparation of management witnesses through the drafting of post-hearing briefs. We also recognize the occasional appropriateness of resolving disputes before arbitration and through mediation.
Spengler Nathanson’s attorneys have significant experience in collective bargaining on behalf of management in the public and private sectors, with both traditional and interest-based bargaining. We recognize the importance of the ongoing relationship between management and labor.
Our experience includes at-the-table negotiations, as well as advice regarding negotiation strategy and drafting contract language. We also handle bargaining-related matters such as mediation, public sector conciliation and fact-finding; unfair labor practices charges before the Ohio State Employment Relations Board and the National Labor Relations Board; and, when necessary, strike preparation, and securing legal restrictions on picketing and relief for strike misconduct.
Spengler Nathanson’s extensive representation of school boards and other local and state governmental bodies has given us a wide range of experience dealing with Ohio’s public records and open meetings laws. Evaluating whether items are public records, public record exemptions,production and copying requirements, public meeting requirements, and the appropriate use of executive sessions are a few of the issues with which we deal regularly, while keeping up-to-date on the frequent changes in the laws and their interpretation by the courts.
Our attorneys regularly assist school clients with issues regarding truancy and student attendance,tuition and open enrollment in public schools. We provide counsel regarding compliance with the evolving laws in this area and recognize the practical challenges that can arise with attendance-related issues.
Our attorneys have experience representing school clients at all stages of special education matters. We advise clients when compliance questions arise, attend IEP meetings, represent schools in due process hearings, and serve as counsel in litigation in state and federal courts. We often counsel school clients on matters concerning the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (“IDEIA”), what constitutes a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”), providing accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and how to navigate complicated questions regarding disabilities, bullying, discipline, extracurricular participation, and constitutional issues.
Spengler Nathanson’s attorneys regularly advise school clients on issues relevant to student discipline, including when discipline is and not appropriate, what level of discipline may be appropriate based upon the conduct in question, when a student’s disability may affect potential discipline for misconduct, and whether proposed discipline could pose other concerns under state or federal law.
Our attorneys have closely followed the ongoing changes to the requirements for school districts, colleges, and universities pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. We regularly assist clients with questions about Title IX and preparation of and updates to Title IX and related policies.
We also serve as counsel for boards of education, colleges, and universities in litigation arising under Title IX and related statutes.
Spengler Nathanson’s attorneys frequently advise employers, including school clients, regarding responses to former employees’ claims for unemployment compensation, and represent employers before the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission.
Spengler Nathanson’s labor attorneys regularly advise both public and private sector clients regarding compliance with federal minimum wage and overtime laws, and Ohio’s minimum wage law. We have dealt extensively with such matters as the classification of exempt and non-exempt employees, calculation of pay rates for overtime purposes, pay for training and travel time, and exempt employees’ salary basis of pay.
Spengler Nathanson has an active workers’ compensation practice, representing employers in administrative hearings before the Industrial Commission and on appeals in court. We represent public and private employersand advise employers on the advisability of contesting claims, and ways to resolve problem claims. In addition, we have extensive experience in defending complaints for employment intentional torts.
Attorneys who can assist you:
Renisa A. Dorner
Sarah K. Skow