We provide publicly and privately organized educational entities with the full range of legal services. Our representation touches every aspect of day-to-day management and strategic planning, as well as dispute resolution. For many of our clients, which include boards of education and their school district administrative teams, we serve as general counsel.
Our School Law group has a deep understanding of the business, educational, financial and legislative issues facing school districts. In addition, many Hinshaw attorneys have a unique understanding of government as the core of their career experience is derived from high-level federal, state and local government service. When our clients are confronted with unique issues falling outside the traditional school law setting, we tap into Hinshaw’s national, multidisciplinary resources.
School Board Representation
As legal counsel to school boards, we work closely with board members as well as school administrators. We are experienced in all legal aspects of local government organization and operations. We routinely handle matters that are unique to board functioning. These include: employee and student disciplinary hearings; general and bond elections and election contests; meeting minute reviews; Open Meetings Act compliance; parliamentary procedures; policy development; and public bidding contracting. We also help establish intergovernmental cooperation agreements designed to benefit the participating entities.
Labor and Employment
Hinshaw has extensive experience in advising school districts on diverse labor and employment subjects. We commonly represent school districts in employment matters involving personnel rules, policies, employee and management handbooks and contracts; certification and tenure issues; terminations, lay-offs and suspensions, including reduction in force counseling; and wage, OSHA and employment discrimination claims and investigations.
We also counsel school clients as to all labor matters, including: collective bargaining and negotiation; pension, health and welfare benefit claims; and unfair labor practice claims.
We have extensive experience providing school districts a full range of legislative advocacy services at the federal, state, county and local level, including drafting legislation; lobbying before the U.S. Congress and state legislatures; and representing clients before regulatory agency hearings.
We represent school districts in connection with the full range of public law and finance issues, such as general school finance and financial oversight; grant development; and tax anticipation warrants. We also act as bond counsel; render unqualified legal opinions as to the validity and, where appropriate, tax-exempt status of securities; and act as underwriter’s counsel in connection with tax-exempt or taxable financing.
Real Estate and Environmental
Our School Law attorneys advise and represent educational clients on both complex and routine real estate subjects. Some of the matters with which we have experience include: construction and professional services contracts; the full range of environmental issues, including indoor air quality matters; and leasing, financing, sales and acquisitions of real estate.
We have broad experience advising on special education matters involving the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and related state laws. Our school law attorneys routinely represent clients in mediation, complaint and due process proceedings. We also assist with procedural compliance; student eligibility; Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and reasonable accommodation determinations; placement in the least restrictive environment; parental cooperation and more.
We consult daily with school district administrators on a wide variety of student-related matters regarding, among many others, bilingual and alternative education matters, curricular changes, desegregation and discrimination claims, free speech and assembly issues, and student records release and confidentiality.
We know how to position school districts to avoid or cut short litigation. We also count among our distinguished ranks the author of the leading treatise on tort immunity in Illinois. But when necessary, we manage complex and more common litigation matters. Our dispute resolution experience includes defense of: civil rights claims under Sections 1983, 1985 and 1986; suits brought by students and others for assault, battery, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and personal injury/wrongful death; and class-action claims.
Beyond our comprehensive legal services, we provide our school district clients The Report Card, a regularly published newsletter, and periodic client alerts to keep recipients apprised of the latest court decisions, legislation and other governmental actions that affect school law, board policy and administrative practices.