Board Members Play Political and Diplomatic Roles in the Community
But you must strike a balance in your non-governing roles when reaching out to key constituents.
Dealing with the Culture Wars
Zealots and lawsuits and children, oh my! If that sounds flip, just wait until your district gets caught up in a social and ideological firestorm.
A teacher's off-campus actions can have in-school consequences. Are you prepared to make a difficult judgment call?
Parents & The Law
Superintendents and school board members can talk a blue streak about the value of parent involvement in public education. But in the silence, the truth often is that reality is not nearly as bodacious as the rhetoric. Despite very clear direction by NCLB, the bold vision of parents as equal partners with school districts remains a distant aspiration in most communities.
Stranger than Fiction
Truth is stranger than fiction. That saying is particularly accurate when it comes to public school law and the oddball happenings involving districts around the United States. Most confrontations are about freedoms under the Bill of Rights—that sticky wicket of 10 amendments where anything can happen in a court of law. What follows is a catalogue of occurrences worth examining for the lessons they portray. Some will shock. Others will make you chuckle. And some items are just plain “news of the weird.”
Show Me the Money
How does a government-funded education end up being so darned expensive? And, just as important, how do public school districts ensure equity in an environment where charging fees can potentially cause hardship and where, by contrast, wealthy parents and benefactors can lift a single school building to resources beyond its peers? From a legal view, these realities raise questions of fairness, equality of opportunity, and gaping disparities. That is the starting point for boards of education and superintendents.
A Slippery Slope
If a tree slips and falls in the woods, is a school district liable? A bad joke, I know. But it is no laughing matter when school districts are accused of negligence—or worse—because of an incident involving a student, an employee, or a guest who is on school grounds or at a school-related function. Courts are reluctant to hold school districts financially accountable for tragic, yet unforeseeable, events, but the way a given case unfolds can vary greatly based on specifics.
Deal or No Deal
It seems that collective bargaining between school boards and employees has become an accusatory event. Every few years each side puts up its dukes, points a blaming finger, and claims the high ground. Eventually, something—someone—has got to give. And, like the proverbial childhood staring contest, neither the system nor the bargaining unit wants to blink, because the economic, operational, and academic stakes are so high.
Even Out the Playing Field
When it comes to high school sports, girls rule! After all, while boys’ athletics may have a long history, wacky traditions, and way higher attendance at games, girls have the law on their side. Right? Not necessarily. Increasingly, the skeptic’s view is that boys are being shortchanged. Thirty five years after Title IX was enacted, the question about equal access to athletics for boys and girls continues to be felt in schools.
Trouble on the Line
Cell phones are increasingly multi-talented. In the hands of children, however, they are trouble waiting to happen. How can one little device cause such a heap of trouble? Students and cell phones present a host of legal challenges, but your district’s attorney can help you navigate the muddy policy maze.