Primary and secondary schools in Massachusetts face an ever expanding set of increasingly complex legal obligations. Mirick O’Connell’s Education Attorneys partner with our school clients to provide timely, cost-efficient advice and representation to assist them in delivering educational services to their students. Our school clients include municipal and regional school districts, charter schools, collaboratives and private schools.
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.
- collective bargaining
- grievance arbitration
- unfair labor practices
- leaves of absence
- compliance with state certification requirements
- non-renewal of teachers without professional teacher status
- managing employees with medical conditions
- sexual harassment investigations
- wage and hour laws
- drafting of employment policies
- employment agreements for non-union employees
- We are one of only a few Massachusetts law firms with an education law practice that also maintains an extensive employee benefits practice.
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
We have also successfully negotiated numerous union concessions to help our clients manage their budgets and further their educational vision, 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.
As General Counsel, we routinely advise our public school districts on issues such as:
- School Committee Policies
- Interpretations of Chapter 71
- 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 clients in connection with amendments to their regional school district agreements, superintendency union agreements and the use of executive session. We have also 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:
- allegations of sexual harassment against other students
- student records
- discipline for violence
- drug/alcohol use
- 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 district’s potential liability for students’ participation in an out-of-state academic competition and the determination of the permissible scope of drug testing at school-related activities.
Our School Construction Lawyers have extensive experience in advising public school districts regarding school building projects from the appointment of an Owner’s Project Manager through the resolution of post-construction warranty claims. We counsel clients and draft and negotiate contracts associated with the hiring of architects under the Designer Selection law, the pre-qualification of bidders, and the award of general contracts for construction. We also represent our clients in 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.
Mirick O’Connell’s Special Education Lawyers represent and advise our clients on special education matters with a full understanding of the difficult dynamic that exists among our clients’ limited resources, their legal obligations and the ongoing relationship between the school district and the student and the student’s family.
Our Special Education Lawyers focus on providing pragmatic advice and early resolution of these disputes. When this approach is not successful in accomplishing our clients’ goals, we aggressively represent their interests before the Bureau of Special Education Appeals and in court as appropriate. We also counsel our clients on related issues under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.