Alexs Pate, President and CEO of Innocent Technologies and creator of The Innocent Classroom, will discuss his vision for an educational system liberated from racial stereotypes and negative narratives about people of color, indigenous people, and other marginalized individuals. He will focus on the power of individual relationships to create spaces free of stereotypes—spaces of innocence—for all people who enter and are served in these places. These spaces will give way to a more enlightened system in which each individual becomes aware of their power and unlimited potential.
Alexs Pate is President and CEO of Innocent Technologies and creator of the Innocent Classroom. He is a New York Times bestselling author who has written five novels, a children’s book, a book of nonfiction, and has curated numerous literary anthologies. His latest book The Innocent Classroom: Dismantling Racial Bias for Children of Color was published by ASCD (August 2020).
Throughout his career Alexs has attacked racial stereotypes that limit the realities of people of color. He has worked to create worlds in which the humanity of everyone is recognized, known and finally assumed. Alexs founded Innocent Technologies to build the world in which we can live our authentic humanity, uninhibited by the stories about who we are supposed to be. The success of the Innocent Classroom has led to the development of Innocent Classroom for Early Childhood Educators and Innocent Care training for health care professionals to build quick connections with their patients.
Alexs leads his company through his vision for a world in which our children are free to achieve their unlimited potential, our people are free to live healthily and fully, and our individual humanity is prioritized and valued in the structures of society.
Presenters: Fhonda Contreras, Director of Special Services, Hopkins MN Public Schools; Marti Voight, Interim Assistant Superintendent, Robbinsdale MN Public Schools; Dr. Alecia Mobley, Director of Special Education, Richfield MN Public Schools
Moderator: Laura Tubbs Booth
In this interactive presentation, Dr. Kramarczuk Voulgarides will ask participants to think critically about how local contexts (e.g., district demographics, organizational culture and climate, and so forth) interact with and affect IDEA compliance as educators seek to address racial inequity in special education outcomes.
Presenter: Dr. Catherine Kramarczuk Voulgarides, City University of New York (CUNY)-Hunter College
Presenters will discuss the benefits of school districts embedding a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and/or Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) in school settings. Topics will include how to increase staff’s knowledge to work with students who display significant challenging behaviors and break down desired skills into steps and effective data collection systems.
Presenters: Danielle Lapos, Area Supervisor and Dr. Justin Lien, Assistant Special Education Director, Fargo Public Schools, North Dakota
Students, and especially students of color, often feel defeated about school. Success in special education classes is enhanced when students can describe their ideas
and experiences and have support to have an understanding of how they do learn. Respecting their voices—active listening and respectful appreciation of each student’s important story—can improve educational efforts. This workshop will offer educators insights and guidelines about promoting students’ voices.
Presenter: Anne Gearity, PhD, University of Minnesota, Department of Psychiatry
In this session, an educator and an education attorney will discuss a template for determining when compensatory education or services are required, how to determine the types and amounts of services and practical advice for working with teams.
Presenters: Jeff Jorgensen, Director of Student Support Services, Edina MN Public Schools and Elizabeth Meske
Join three dynamic entrepreneurs as they describe their creative efforts to reach students of color in our special education classrooms. You will get a preview of one of their culturally relevant lessons as well.
Presenters: Dario Otero, Myc Daz, and Mondo Davison
In this annual review we will discuss cases involving FAPE after Endrew F., dyslexia and teaching reading, state department of education decisions regarding COVID, and much more.
Presenters: Laura Tubbs Booth and Christian Shafer
What should you do when you receive reports of alleged misconduct? What happens when records or other information suggest potential wrongdoing? This presentation will provide participants with a step-by-step guide to investigating allegations of employee and student misconduct, including new requirements for conducting Title IX investigations. Specific topics include conducting witness interviews and gathering other relevant evidence, assessing witness credibility, data privacy considerations, responding to common obstacles that may arise during the investigation process, and more.
– Erin E. Benson
Schools are required under state and federal law to provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities. The provision of special education and related services also makes up a significant portion of most school budgets. Having some special education savvy is an increasingly necessary skill for every school administrator to possess. Yet, the federal and state laws that govern special education programs, processes and procedures can be complex and confusing. During this presentation, a special education attorney will provide a rundown of the essentials, from Individualized Education Programs to assistive technology to special transportation.
– Elizabeth M. Meske
Join us for a rundown of recent case law and decisions that impact how schools serve students with disabilities. We will look at cases involving Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, including the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Catch up on recent legal trends, review best practices, and hear how school districts across the country have (successfully and unsuccessfully) responded to challenging issues involving disabled students.
– Christian R. Shafer, Elizabeth M. Meske and Adam J. Frudden
n this session we will review the 8th Circuit’s decision in Osseo v. MNB that open-enrolled students, even those with transportation on their IEPs, are not entitled to transportation outside the district’s borders. We will provide practical guidance on the many variations that schools may choose under this important decision.
– Laura Tubbs Booth
What if a student with a disability refuses to wear a face covering? Can our staff provide services in homes during distance learning? Can paras provide direct minutes of service? In this session, RRM’s special education attorneys will discuss our growing collection of common (and sometimes quirky) COVID-19 questions. We will also review recent decisions from the MDE on the provision of FAPE during a pandemic and news from the national litigation front.
– Laura Tubbs Booth, Christian R. Shafer and Elizabeth M. Meske
With many students attending class remotely, it is more important than ever to know how to address off-campus student conduct issues. Can the school address student conduct that is entirely online and off-campus? What if the conduct occurs in the remote learning setting or only on social media? Does the school have a legal obligation to address this conduct? What are those obligations? This presentation will help administrators navigate the murky area of addressing off-campus student conduct.
– Nathan B. Shepherd
Between the requirements of the Open Meeting Law, the restrictions of Executive Orders, and the need to provide a safe meeting environment given the ongoing spread of COVID-19, holding a proper public meeting has become a real challenge. This presentation will discuss differences between meetings held under the pandemic rule versus meetings with “normal” remote attendance, the mechanics of closing remote meetings, handling documents and public comments, and other problems that have arisen since the onset of the pandemic.
– Joseph J. Langel
The intersection of the First Amendment and free speech have always been areas that raise questions for public schools. COVID-19, as well as several social and political issues that have recently erupted, have brought about many new challenges. This presentation will review the application of the First Amendment in schools, including student and staff free speech rights, based on new and demanding situations that have erupted during the pandemic and in the current social/political climate. Suggestions and best practices also will be offered to assist schools in responding to situations as they arise.
-Jennifer K. Earley and Adam J. Frudden
This presentation addresses the important roles school officials and school resource officers perform when investigating student misconduct, as well as the importance of establishing boundaries between those roles. Topics discussed include data practices concerns and legal issues related to student searches and interviews.
– Timothy A. Sullivan
The COVID-19 global pandemic has led to rapid and significant changes for school districts. From State Executive Orders, ever-changing MDH and MDE guidance to new leaves created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the recent outbreak poses numerous challenges in navigating the already complex requirements of state and federal law. This panel of employment, labor and school law experts will answer questions faced by school districts during this challenging time.
– Margaret A. Skelton, Jennifer K. Earley, Christian R. Shafer, and Moderator, Frank E. Langan
This presentation will address COVID-19 in relation to ADA and MHRA accommodations. What is the difference between a disability needing an accommodation and an employee’s preference? Can an employee take FMLA for prior medical condition that is not currently incapacitating? What must employers be concerned about to avoid whistleblower claims? How do employers comply with new and changing Executive Orders, new legislation and rules?
– Ann R. Goering
While the current pandemic has resulted in prominent changes to the way schools operate, court decisions in the past year have had significant, if less well-publicized, impact on schools. This presentation will provide an update on the latest legal developments that most impact Minnesota schools.
– Margaret A. Skelton
From Child Find to FAPE, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic affected all areas of special education. This session will focus on the realities of meeting due process requirements during any continuing period of distance learning and the most likely areas of potential liability related to last year’s distance learning programs.
Presenters: Laura Tubbs Booth, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Elizabeth Meske, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
This session will examine the legal framework for ensuring that special education employees are meeting employment expectations. The presenters will offer strategies for effectively directing staff and responding when staff fail to meet those directives or engage in misconduct.
Presenters: Christian Shafer, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Frank Langan, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A
School law attorneys will share their expertise on recent case law pertaining to bullying and harassment in schools, best practices, and what compliance with the relevant legal requirements looks like in 2020. This presentation will also include a discussion about communicating with students and staff about bullying and harassment and an update on the quickly developing area of law surrounding inclusion and protections for transgender students.
Presenters: Adam Frudden, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Frank Langan, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
What does it mean to provide an “individualized” education program? What factors does a team have to take into account when planning for special education services? This presentation will explore recent court and administrative decisions that focus on educators’ consideration (or lack of consideration) of students’ unique needs. In light of these recent cases, the presenters will provide guidance to handle difficult questions regarding student transition, transportation, and behavior needs.
Presenters: Laura Tubbs Booth, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Megan Renslow, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
Join us for a purposeful discussion with Dr. Anne Gearity about the essential role of kindness in education. Indeed, building a culture where staff maintain a disposition for kindness just may be the most effective and cost-efficient approach to providing effective and learning-focused special education services. Dr. Gearity will examine how adult states of mind impact student well-being and performance, how attitudes translate into behaviors, and how intentionally organizing interventions, including restorative practices that combine kindness with expectations, can improve student and staff engagement.
Anne R. Gearity, PhD, has joyfully collaborated with educators for decades, hoping to bridge learning and well-being for students and staff. She is a mental health provider, working with children, adolescents, adults and families. In addition, she has consulted to numerous school districts and mental health agencies, focusing primarily on development, stress and trauma, and changing intervention models to support positive experiences. She is currently faculty in the UMN department of psychiatry, teaching new child psychiatrists. In collaboration with Washburn Center for Children, she authored Developmental Repair, a manual for intervention with highly stressed young children that has been adopted and applied in many settings.
This interactive presentation will cover five of the hottest legal topics involving technology and students with special needs: (1) phones, computers, and data privacy laws; (2) social media and discipline for conduct outside of school; (3) assistive technology; (4) virtual schools and online classes; and (5) e-mailing and texting with co-workers and parents.
Presenter: Adam Frudden, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Elizabeth Meske, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
In recent years, the climate around education inequality has been heightened, and now is the time for sschool districts to truly lead the charge around providing all students with an equal and equitable education. However, many district leaders and teachers have not examined how our own civil rights history has shaped education. How did we get here? How does our past shape why we are struggling with equity and equality today? This session will examine the civil rights roadmap to education equality. It will also provide participants an opportunity to examine and share their own educational roadmap and how their lived experience shapes how we all show up as educators.
Presenter: Paula Forbes, J.D., Forbes Consulting
This session will outline how the Minnetonka Public Schools addressed the challenges of teaching reading to students with reading challenges in particular those with dyslexia. Learn about their work with Groves Literacy Partnerships.
Presenters: Michelle Ferris, Executive Director of Support Services; Steve Ubansky, Director of Curriculum; Katharine Campbell, Director of Groves Literacy Partnerships
Get practical and user-friendly guidance on your school’s legal obligations under Section 504. Learn best practices for drafting an effective and defensible 504 Plan. We will talk all things 504—from individual health plans, to after school programs, to how Section 504 intersects with the IDEA and the ADA. Bring your Section 504 questions!
Presenters: Laura Booth, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Elizabeth Meske, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
What legal obligations do public schools have with respect to private school students? Learn about the recent changes in the law and how to help your school stay in compliance.
Presenters: Elizabeth Meske J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Laura Booth, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
Join experienced special education attorneys as they discuss the case law on methodology – who chooses the method of instruction, what are the requirements and when can the school district lose this right?
Presenters: Tim Palmatier, General Counsel Osseo Schools; Christian Shafer, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
Watch a brief clip of an IEP team meeting and participate with two experienced friends in a dialogue about their experiences in IEP team meetings. Learn what they describe as the KIND process – Kindness; Integrity and Individualization; Necessary and Driven. You will walk away with tools to add to your teams’ work that can help create a culture of professionalism, individualization and compliance.
Presenters: Laura Booth, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Erin Wanat, Executive Director Indigo Education
Learn the law in the important area of student discipline from two veterans. This session was requested more than any other from our previous conferences.
Presenters: Kim Buechel Mesun J.D. and Cindy Atsatt J.D., Minneapolis Public Schools
This closing session will review the cases that you need to be familiar with in order to coach your teams to best practices. We will review national cases from across the country with a focus on those in the 8th Circuit.
Presenters: Elizabeth Meske, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Christian Shafer, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Laura Booth, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act provides a complex framework for the education of students with disabilities. This session will address common questions and issues related to applicable law, barriers and accommodations, special considerations, and resources available for students with disabilities in post-secondary settings. Participants in this session will gain a deeper understanding of legal basics, while also having an opportunity to share ideas with colleagues.
Presenter: Jill Coyle, General Counsel, ISD 196
At Intermediate District 287, we are interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline! Learn about the Student Safety Coach Model and get the information you need to implement this approach at your school.
Presenters: Intermediate District 287 Dr. Elisabeth Lodge Rogers, Assistant Superintendent for Programs and Services; Theon Jarrett, Student and Staff Safety Manager; and Anne Becker, General Counsel
You are a special education expert, but are you a great special education supervisor? This presentation will provide you with the knowledge to properly (and legally) supervise employees with performance or misconduct issues, with special emphasis on common issues in the special education environment.
Presenters: Nathan Shepherd, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Frank Langan, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
Members of Intermediate District 917’s leadership team for two setting IV (level D) sites will describe their multifaceted approach to reducing restrictive procedures and improving student outcomes. This has included changes to the learning environment, the implementation of a social emotional learning approach, Nurtured Heart, and the structured implementation of problem-solving teams.
Presenters: Intermediate District 917 Dave Stoll, Assistant Director; Adrienne Turzynski, Board Certified Behavior Analyst; and Anne Byer, Licensed Psychologist
What should you do when you receive allegations of employee misconduct? What if an employee’s paper work or due process documents suggests misconduct? This presentation will provide participants with helpful guidance when investigating allegations of employee misconduct.
Presenters: Erin Benson, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.; Jordan Soderlind, J.D., Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A.
This presentation will review the most significant school law cases from the past year and address the practical implications that the latest cases have for school officials. In addition, the presentation will cover statutory changes that impact your District.
– Margaret A. Skelton and Christian R. Shafer
Demonstrations, protests, social media posts and other forms of expression on political and social issues have increasingly been brought forward not only on the fields of our professional sports teams, highways and the lawn of our nation’s capital but into the classrooms, extracurricular events and parking lots of our schools. This presentation will review the present state of the law as to the rights of students, staff, parents and the public to protest and exercise their freedom of speech on school grounds while balancing the duties of schools to maintain safety and order.
– Jennifer K. Earley
Nearly every collective bargaining agreement and arbitration decision regarding employee discipline talks about “just cause.” But what is “just cause” anyway? This presentation will go through arbitration decisions to show what has been found to constitute just cause, and where employers have failed to establish sufficient grounds to support the disciplinary action they have taken. This session will also offer tips on how to improve the employer’s chances to prevail in a contested discipline case.
– Ann R. Goering
Endrew F. and the Supreme Court – Laura Tubbs Booth
Grading and Transcripts – Elizabeth M. Meske
Service Animals – Adam J. Frudden
Statute of Limitations – Frank E. Langan
Special Education Student Discipline – Christian R. Shafer
The Open Meeting Law has been in effect for decades, yet mistakes continue to be made. Special meetings are not properly noticed, or items are added to the agenda that should not be. Copies of agenda materials are not available to the public at the meeting. Motions are made to close the meeting for general “executive sessions” without stating the statutory provision or purpose for closing. This session will review the common and not so common pitfalls of the Open Meeting Law.
Just a few years ago, many School Districts never imagined they would be faced with issues regarding accommodating transgender students. Today, School Districts across the state routinely deal with requests from transgender students and parents regarding accommodations from preferred name to restroom usage. But what happens when the transgender student and their parent disagree as to what accommodations should be provided? What happens if one parent agrees with an accommodation, but the other parent does not? These timely and complicated questions are explored in this session.
This presentation will address what to do when employees or students engage in misconduct off campus. Can you discipline them? Are you responsible for implementing restraining orders? What is nexus anyway?
In this session we will discuss what we thought was true about Section 504 (an urban myth) and what is really true! Some of the top ten will include:
– Laura Tubbs Booth
What should you do when you have to make a choice between what a student wants or needs and the directive of a parent? Hear from experienced school attorneys who will tackle how to handle various sticky situations involving students. For example, what should you do if a student in your school is pregnant, but insists that her parents cannot find out? What are the best practices for dealing with an ugly custody dispute? This presentation will include practical guidance for these scenarios and more.
– Jennifer K. Earley and Elizabeth M. Meske
Protecting students while they are traveling off-campus, especially while also protecting the District from liability, is a challenge. The Supreme Court’s recent suggestion that schools can be liable for off-campus student driving conduct and the legislature’s requirement that the District control extracurriculars, adds even more concerns to this topic. This presentation will get you up to speed on these recent developments, and help you navigate other transportation issues like student conduct and discipline, correctly using liability waivers, and school bus video data practices.
This presentation addresses a school district’s obligations when it receives allegations that a student or employee has engaged in sexual harassment. Topics include a discussion of applicable state and federal statutes, as well as guidance for effectively addressing and responding to claims of sexual harassment.
How do schools deal with requests for leave under the FMLA? Can an employee take leave only as needed? What about leave for military personnel?
Have you heard the one about the peacock that tried to board a plane to L.A.? When it comes to emotional support animals in the news, it can be hard to distinguish the headlines from punchlines. So how should schools navigate requests to allow animals inside the schoolhouse in this age of emotional support peacocks? Join us for an in-depth look at the myriad of ways animals are appearing in schools. From service animals to emotional support animals to therapy animals to classroom pets, this comprehensive presentation will differentiate what legal obligations schools have when it comes to allowing animals in school.
Can a father have his new girlfriend pick up his child over the mother’s objection? Can a grandmother sign a field trip permission slip for a student? Who has to, or is even allowed to, come to an IEP meeting or parent conference? How should staff respond if a parent asks them to testify against the other parent in a custody hearing? Separation, divorce, adoption, and remarriage raise these, and numerous other legal and practical concerns that impact schools across the State. This presentation will discuss the legal rights of parents, stepparents, guardians, adoptive parents, and grandparents. The presenter will explore how those rights impact the school setting and provide guidance for responding to common situations created by intra-family disputes.
– Margaret A. Skelton and Emma L. Oakley
A school’s activities and athletic programs can bring communities together and be a source of school spirit. While budgeting for these programs can cause headaches for administrators, accepting help from booster clubs or volunteers and raising revenue through advertising creates its own set of legal hurdles. This presentation will discuss two common ways schools can supplement their activities & athletic funding—advertising and booster clubs—while complying with the law. This presentation also will ensure that administrators are up to speed on all the unique wage and hour rules and other potential areas of liability that apply to coaches and volunteers that help run schools’ programs.
– Jennifer K. Earley and Timothy S. Christensen
Even more so than with other student discipline situations, it is important to do things by the book when imposing discipline against a disabled student. Failing to comply with state and federal law could have serious legal ramifications, including having the discipline voided, time-consuming litigation, and potentially costly liability. From discovery of the misconduct through manifestation determinations and enforcing discipline, the presenter will provide a step-by-step guide for disciplining students with disabilities. Along the way, the presenters will highlight some of the most common pitfalls and offer steps for avoiding them.
– Christian R. Shafer
This presentation will deal with issues of investigation, documentation, and discipline determinations for performance issues and misconduct by school employees who are not teachers under 122A.40 or .41. What happens when custodians and food service personnel aren’t showing up on time? What rules or laws affect dealing with an employee with a bad attitude? How do schools avoid Whistleblower and Discrimination claims by former employees with performance issues or who engage in misconduct?
With the Supreme Court’s issuance of the Janus v. AFSCME decision, schools are faced with agency fee language in their collective bargaining agreements that is no longer enforceable. In addition, this case has far reaching implications as to how schools address related union employment matters. This session will discuss these concerns and how to respond to them in contract negotiations as well as other problematic contract language, such as teacher licensing and unrequested leave of absence provisions.
– Ann R. Goering and Jennifer K. Earley
Schools have a duty to use reasonable care to provide a safe environment for students. With the renewed media attention on violence and guns in schools, districts face enormous pressure to devise safety plans and policies to protect students and staff. While there are many proposals as to how schools could be made safer, there are legal issues that must be considered. Schools must weigh the state and federal requirements, as well as the potential liability associated with implementing various plans.
The law seldom stands still, and the past year has not been an exception. This presentation will highlight recent decisions that affect the daily operations of your schools. Relevant cases will cover employment issues, student rights, discrimination, and other common legal concerns affecting Minnesota schools. Staying abreast of the law is the best way to avoid violating it.