2008 School Law Archive

ASBJ's School Law articles, hand picked from the archives.

Related Documents

Who's Allowed on Your School Grounds?
It is easy to see how school leaders can believe their power over district staff and property is absolute. That is particularly true when it comes to letting someone in or keeping them out of “your” buildings. School property may be your castle, but the courts, state legislatures, and other government leaders establish the rules.
December 2008

Legal Issues of School Construction
Aside from personnel, a school district’s building stock is one of its biggest investments. Therefore, when the board and superintendent decide a new school building is needed, a host of legal issues must be addressed long before the first jumbo-sized excavators move even a single grain of earth.
November 2008

The Internet and School Law
This column discusses the trials and tribulations districts can experience with technology. Specifically, First Amendment free speech and websites (student-created and district-created), and other miscellaneous but instructive legal challenges posed by modern technologies, including personal Global Positioning System devices to keep habitually truant students in line.
October 2008

Video Monitoring Has Uses and Misuses
Technology can be both a salvation and a curse. In particular, devices that capture images are useful because they potentially provide irrefutable legal proof of “whodunit.” Yet the key is deploying video and the sometimes accompanying sound in a way that exploits beneficial uses for evidence and recordkeeping purposes while avoiding traps lurking on the underside.
September 2008

Who Can Help When You Need Legal Advice
There is an expression declaring that the law is a seamless web, a phrase that conveys the complexity of a tangled U.S. legal system. Understanding a source's weight of authority allows a superintendent and board members to assess the risk of a decision based on that source's opinion. The essential question is: Whom do you trust?
August 2008

News of the Weird in School Law
School board members, superintendents, educators, and school attorneys agree that the best defense against strange legal events is a well-lubed sense of humor. This column is my second annual News of the Weird in K-12 school law. It chronicles the irregular and distressing legal items that confront school districts in any given year.
June 2008

Legal Pitfalls in Dealing With Terminated School Employees
In whisper mode, it is called the "dance of the lemons" or, even worse, "pass the trash," but these caustic comments reflect a genuine legal and human dilemma in dealing with the transfer or termination of bad employees. When a reference call comes in on a substandard employee, even the safest course could be lined with potential liability.
July 2008

Does the Bible Have a Place in Your Classrooms?
Ignorance of the Bible makes it much harder for students to understand and appreciate great works of literature, art, and music. But if your district wants to explore the advantages of a Bible literacy course, there are certain legal realities to consider.
June 2008

Legal News of the Weird
School board members, superintendents, educators, and school attorneys agree that the best defense against strange legal events is a well-lubed sense of humor. This column is my second annual News of the Weird in K-12 school law. It chronicles the irregular and distressing legal items that confront school districts in any given year.
June 2008

Is Silence in the Classroom Really Golden?
As a society, we know that silence is golden. But is a moment of it religious? School leaders must ensure that observing a moment of silence is neutral, allowing those who choose religious observances to do so faithfully, while paying equal respect to students who choose to wordlessly shimmy to the music in their heads.
May 2008

The Importance of School Board Policies
From a legal standpoint, school boards exist for one reason: to govern K-12 schools by exercising their power as a policymaking body. A good policy can save a district's hide. The challenge for boards and the administration is making sure no reality gap exists between what is explained on paper and daily practice.
April 2008

School Boards and Book Debates
Reading is the "gateway skill," the one ability that opens endless possibilities for learning. Yet, we only want students to read what "we" want them to read. Parents, school districts, board members, superintendents, and communities can have sharply different ideas about what is age-appropriate or worthwhile. Therefore, it pays to have a clear, rigorous process for approving reading materials.
March 2008

Does Your Board Need a Policy Against Bullies?
Lately, public school leaders are too often seen waging a valiant struggle against poisonous acts in which a student's race and ethnicity are the source for hatred. In such an atmosphere, and with potential legal liability lurking just below the surface, the temptation for good people to do something becomes strong. Yet, the reality is this: Neither law nor school board policy has the power to change attitudes.
February 2008