Virtual School Law Seminar



Friday, November 5, 2021

Afternoon Session

12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Lunch Break

The COVID Storm: A Tsunami of Pandemic-Related Litigation

Since March 2020, there have been thousands of lawsuits filed against employers alleging labor and employment violations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Lawsuits range from claims of employer negligence for failure to protect workers to claims of constitutional violations related to employer requirements for masking and vaccination.  This presentation will discuss some of these lawsuits and the liability considerations for Minnesota schools.

Margaret A. Skelton

Reasonable Accommodation During COVID

Schools continue to receive requests to work from home and for other accommodations from both teachers and other staff members even as students are present in the classroom. What can schools ask to prove the need for such accommodations? What alternatives are appropriate? Can such requests be denied if employees were allowed to telework during the previous school year? This presentation will address how to respond to requests for accommodation, including COVID-19 anxiety and high-risk medical conditions.

Ann R. Goering

A Very COVID Q&A, Part 2: Answers to the Tough Questions Facing Minnesota Schools This Year

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a present danger and continues to raise issues for schools this year. Administrators and school boards are faced with unpopular decisions on masking policies, vaccination mandates, COVID testing, quarantine, and other safety protocols, with little ability to rely upon laws and Executive Orders for the answers.  This panel of employment, labor and school law attorneys will answer questions faced by schools during this challenging time.

Margaret A. Skelton, Jennifer K. Earley, Christian R. Shafer, and Moderator, Frank E. Langan

Responding to Outrageous Data Practices Requests

Requests for data are on the rise, and their number, breadth and scope are sometimes overwhelming.  These demands increasingly seek data from school board members, and other school employees, who are sometimes reluctant to relinquish what they feel are private “personal” information, such as data on personal social media accounts and cell phones.  We will discuss how to respond to these and similar demands, what data is subject to release, how it can be inspected and by whom, and dealing with problematic requesters of data.

Joseph J. Langel

The More Things Change: Schools’ Obligations Under Section 504 in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic

From Child Find to the implementation of 504 plans, the pandemic has affected the ways that schools meet their obligations under Section 504.  Despite the hurdles caused by the pandemic, schools’ core obligations under Section 504 remain unchanged.  In this presentation, two experienced school law attorneys will help administrators navigate Section 504 and the ways in which compliance with that law might look different this year.  Some specific topics will include Child Find requirements, health plans, masking and vaccine policies, virtual instruction, and amending students’ 504 plans to reflect their needs as they relate to the pandemic.

Laura Tubbs Booth and Christian R. Shafer

Talking Out of School: First Amendment Rights in the 21st Century

The Supreme Court’s June 2021 decision in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. shed some light on the extent of schools’ ability to regulate off-campus student speech. In this presentation, we will discuss the implications of the long-awaited “cheerleader case,” as well as other Supreme Court precedent on how schools can respond to off-campus student speech. Specific topics will include policy development, off-campus speech and social media, political/social issue speech, and the effect of the “cheerleader case” on cyberbullying.

Jennifer K. Earley and Timothy A. Sullivan

Family Divided: The Role of the School When Custody is at Issue

Education is a cooperative effort that requires a school to balance its responsibilities toward a child with the wishes of the child’s parents.  This balancing act becomes even more complicated when the relationship between the parents is in flux.  In this presentation, we will discuss how evolving familial relationships impact schools and provide suggestions for dealing with some of the common problems faced by school administrators when child custody rights and parental authority and responsibility are at issue.

Nathan B. Shepherd and Adam J. Frudden

FAPE is the Word: Schools’ Obligations to Provide Special Education to Students During the Pandemic and Beyond

Join us to discuss Child Find issues, inclusion of students with special needs in a school’s e-learning academy, placement vs. location, compensatory vs. recovery services, contingency plans, and distance learning during the 2021-2022 school year.

Laura Tubbs Booth and Elizabeth M. Meske

Everything You Wanted to Know About Student Discipline but Were Afraid to Ask

What does an administrator have to do to suspend a student?  Can parents insist that a lawyer be present when a student is being questioned?  Is it true that a school cannot expel a special education student?  Can administrators search a student’s cell phone?  This presentation will answer these and more questions about the legal implications of the student discipline process.  From receipt of a complaint or observation of student misconduct through expulsion or other discipline, two experienced school law attorneys will offer practical guidance on complying with the Minnesota Pupil Fair Dismissal Act, data privacy laws, special education laws, antidiscrimination laws, constitutional provisions, and other laws that might impact the student discipline process.

Christian R. Shafer and Timothy A. Sullivan

Laws at Odds: What to Do When Title IX Does Not Align with the IDEA and Section 504

Making sure your school is operating in compliance with the recent Title IX regulations can be a bit daunting.  What happens when the Title IX grievance process seems to be at odds with the legal obligations imposed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) and Section 504?  This presentation will provide a brief overview of what Title IX currently requires, with an eye toward what could be coming in the future. Special education attorneys will then discuss the special education-specific considerations that might arise if an alleged instance of sex harassment involves a student with an Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) or a Section 504 Plan.

Elizabeth M. Meske and Frank E. Langan

Red Ink and Red Tape: The Law of Crowdfunding, Fundraising, and Donations

As the pandemic impacts school finances, revenue from donations, crowdfunding, and other sources will be crucial to filling in the gaps.  This presentation will help school leaders navigate the legal and ethical rules for crowdfunding, conducting fundraising, accepting donations, and other revenue-generation sources.

Nathan B. Shepherd and Jordan H. Soderlind