Whiteman Osterman & Hanna’s Education Practice Group has advised and represented public and private schools and higher education institutions as general counsel and in discrete matters requiring expert legal services in the education law arena.
On a daily basis, we respond to and resolve a broad range of school law questions in diverse areas such as: teacher certification, tenure areas, and other related issues; student health concerns; budget, finance, and referenda issues; competitive bidding issues; labor and collective bargaining matters; construction issues; residency issues; student discipline and threats of violence; and employee disciplinary matters. We regularly defend school districts in grievance and arbitration proceedings, appeals to the Commissioner of Education, proceedings before the Public Employment Relations Board, tax certiorari proceedings, employment discrimination complaints, civil rights complaints and State and federal court proceedings.
Our Education Practice Group has assisted charter schools in a wide range of issues that intersect private and public concerns. Among other issues, we have advised charter school clients throughout the State on establishment, Title IX, admissions, governance and financing. Our practice has also involved the representation of higher education institutions on all legal matters including sponsored research, technology and licensing agreements, and related intellectual property and research compliance matters of interest to colleges and universities.
The Firm and its Education Practice Group have a fundamentally different approach to the attorney-client relationship than many lawyers. We believe that being fully integrated in our client’s daily activities and making ourselves available to answer routine questions for their administrators before they take action, are critical to avoiding litigation and other legal problems. Moreover, from an economic perspective, our approach usually results in less expense to our clients over the long term because legal issues can be spotted and addressed before they become legal problems. This approach is highly valued by our clients.
- Assisted two BOCES to jointly establish an innovative 9-12 high school program which engages students in current emerging technologies through project-based learning;
- Secured a federal appellate court decision dismissing disability discrimination and sexual harassment claims of a former employee;
- Secured a state appellate court decision which established that a probationary teacher whose position was reduced from full-time to part-time is not entitled to credit towards her probationary term for the period she was less than full-time and was, thus, not entitled to tenure by estoppel;
- Secured the termination (and loss of certification) of tenured teachers for mental incompetence and sexual harassment of students;
- Negotiated and administered numerous collective bargaining agreements for educational institutions;
- Negotiated and drafted a $100 million cooperation agreement for the establishment of the world’s largest university-based supercomputer and research center;
- Successfully defended school districts in a number of special education impartial hearings and secured victories on appeal to the State Review Officer;
- Secured an appellate court victory and Commissioner’s decision for a school district in a boundary dispute with another district and secured an Article 78 judgment compelling the town assessor to recognize the school district’s boundary determination;
- Performed comprehensive reviews to update school district policies, procedures and agenda books;
- Secured a decision in an Article 78 proceeding that a school district may interpret a 3020-a hearing officer’s suspension without pay as being a suspension for school days rather than calendar days;
- Obtained several state appellate court rulings upholding the termination of non-instructional employees following Section 75 proceedings;
- Successfully defended colleges and universities in numerous Article 78 proceedings brought by students and fraternities to overturn disciplinary suspensions or to contest academic determinations; and
- Assisted in the establishment of charter schools throughout the State, including one of the State’s first charter schools.