Charter School Law

Public charter schools in Massachusetts face an ever expanding set of increasingly complex legal obligations. Mirick O’Connell’s Education Lawyers partner with our charter school clients to provide timely, cost-efficient advice and representation to assist them in delivering educational services to their students. We are one of few Massachusetts firms that can meet all of charter schools’ legal needs in-house from labor and employment to school building leases and construction projects to students’ rights, policies and discipline.

Labor and Employment

Our School Law Team advises our clients on all labor and employment matters. We regularly assist them with issues involving labor relations and personnel issues.

  • union avoidance
  • election campaigns and written majority authorizations
  • collective bargaining
  • grievance arbitration
  • unfair labor practices
  • discipline
  • leaves of absence
  • reductions-in-force
  • managing employees with medical conditions
  • sexual harassment investigations
  • wage and hour laws
  • drafting of employment policies
  • employment agreements for non-union employees
  • employee benefits

Mirick O’Connell has become a statewide leader in representing charter schools at which employees have chosen to unionize. We represent and advise charter schools in all aspects of labor relations from union avoidance efforts to election campaigns to collective bargaining and litigation. We have prevailed at arbitrations involving both contract interpretation and disciplinary grievances, and accomplished the removal of non-performing employees in a manner that avoided legal action against the client.

Our Education Lawyers represent our clients when they are the subject of governmental investigations and defend them against claims before state and federal agencies and courts and in arbitration, including:

  • United States Department of Education
  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations
  • American Arbitration Association
  • Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • United States Department of Labor
  • Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
  • state and federal courts

General Counsel

As General Counsel, we routinely advise our charter school on issues such as:

  • Board of Trustee Policies & Bylaws
  • Interpretations of Chapter 71, including charter school provisions
  • Open Meeting Law
  • Public Records Law
  • Conflict of Interest Law
  • public procurement requirements and the budget process

Serving as General Counsel, we have recently advised charter schools regarding their public comment policies and interpretation of their Bylaws, and have negotiated vendor contracts such as school bus service and food service contracts.

Student Rights, Policies and Discipline

Our Education Lawyers advise our clients on issues of student rights, student discipline and student handbooks. As well, we routinely advise clients on matters involving:

  • bullying
  • allegations of sexual harassment against other students
  • student records
  • discipline for violence
  • drug/alcohol use
  • absenteeism
  • participation in student activities

Our recent engagements include the expulsion of students for the use of drugs on a school field trip, the analysis of a school’s potential liability for students’ participation in an
out-of-state trip and the determination of the permissible scope of student drug testing.

Real Estate and Construction

Our Real Estate Lawyers and our School Construction Lawyers have extensive experience in advising charter schools regarding site acquisition, leases, and construction projects. We advise clients on complex real estate transactions and the intricacies of public sector governance of land and building acquisition. We also counsel clients on all aspects of public construction projects, review bid documents and draft and negotiate contracts with architects, construction contractors, and vendors. We also represent our clients in defending bid protests, project closeout issues and, when necessary, pursue warranty claims and surety payment on performance bonds.

We have recently advised and represented clients in connection with both new building and school renovation/expansion projects as well as school leases.

Marc Terry selected as a member of the newly formed AASA Committee to enhance advocacy work with federal agencies and Congress

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Ashlyn Dowd featured in Community Legal Aid

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Charter Schools Legal Update: "U.S. Department of Education Releases Final Rule Under Title IX"

04/23/2024[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "Supreme Court Decision Addresses When Government Officials May Block Social Media Users"

03/19/2024[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "School District Did Not Violate Teacher's Religious Rights After Teacher Refused to Follow District's Transgender Name Policy"

04/24/2023[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "Remote Public Meetings Extended Through March 31, 2025"

04/04/2023[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "SJC Finds Public Meeting Comment Restrictions Unconstitutional"

03/13/2023[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: OCR Issues New Fact Sheet on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Activities Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

02/10/2023[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: Public School Did Not Violate Parents' Constitutional Rights When School Staff Spoke To Their Children About Gender Identity

01/19/2023[ read full story ]

Charter School Legal Update: "Recent Court Decision Clarifies the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law Does Not Apply to Public Employers"

09/26/2022[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "Massachusetts "CROWN" Law Prohibits Discrimination Based on Hairstyle"

07/28/2022[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "Remote Public Meetings Extended Through March 31, 2023"

07/19/2022[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "Scope of Supreme Court Decision Allowing Coach to Pray on Field Limited"

06/29/2022[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "U.S. Department of Education Releases Proposed Revisions to Title IX Regulations"

06/28/2022[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: Don't Delay: MA Employers Are Now Strictly Liable for Three Times the Amount of Wages for Late Payments With No Safe Harbor for Paying in Full Prior to Suit!

04/08/2022[ read full story ]

Charter Schools Legal Update: "Remote Public Meetings Authorized Through July 15, 2022"

2/22/22[ read full story ]

U.S. Department of Education Announces Timeline for Revisions to Title IX Regulations

12/14/2021[ read full story ]

Massachusetts Legislature Enacts School Anti-Lunch Shaming Law

12/02/2021[ read full story ]

Handling Public Comment and Public Records Requests in Light of Critical Race Theory, COVID-19 and Other Contentious Issues

10/14/2021[ read full story ]

e-Alert: Supreme Court Finds School District Violated First Amendment for Off-Campus Speech

6/25/2021[ read full story ]

Remote Public Meetings Authorized Through April of 2022

6/18/2021[ read full story ]

Juneteenth and the School Year Calendar

5/4/2021[ read full story ]

Education Models Impacted by DLR Decision and Possible Change in Learning Hours

2/25/2021[ read full story ]

Extended Closure due to COVID-19 Raises Multiple Issues for Schools

3/30/2020[ read full story ]

U.S. Dept. of Education Interim Guidance to Schools and Colleges for Addressing Sexual Misconduct on Campus

09/27/2017[ read full story ]

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