The Value of Networking
By Chris Thomas
It is a truism of ranchers everywhere that the safest place for cattle to be is in the middle of the herd -- protected from predators and prevented from wandering away and getting lost. School boards can learn a lesson from this analogy. We believe -- and advocate for -- local control and creative solutions to problems that are not one-size-fits-all. However, when it comes to issues of legal liability, the safest place for a board is to be near other boards. Let me explain the reasons for this.
First, while it is not always the case, it is much more likely that the policy or procedure that everyone is using has been legally vetted and tested over time. While school law is constantly evolving -- where even existing statute can take on new understanding and meaning -- certain unwavering principles are at play. These principles are embodied in state association model policies (if your state has them).
Boards then adopt these model policies as their own. The models are based on state and federal statute, regulation, court cases, and legal interpretations by your state department or law enforcement officials. The policies also reflect the collective wisdom of school attorneys throughout the state (more on that later) who work with their client school districts and your state association to come up with the best, most legally defensible policies that they can.