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2018 Education Legislation Summary

In its 2018 regular session, the General Assembly made a number of changes in the statutes that affect public education in Connecticut. This summary is intended to give you a brief overview of some of the more significant changes that were made this year in the area of education. In addition, for more information about new legislation affecting employers in general, please see our Employment Legislation Summary.

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Webinar: Hot Topics in Environmental and Renewable Energy Law for Independent Schools

Please join Shipman & Goodwin partners Andrew Davis, Aaron Levy and Matt Ranelli for this informative program regarding current and pressing environmental and renewable energy-related issues and opportunities for independent schools. The presenters will address key legal and practical issues independent schools face in their day-to-day operations as well as with campus building, renovation and demolition projects, with particular focus on:

  • Managing Environmental Risks and Hazardous Building Materials (e.g., mold, asbestos, lead, PCBs)
  • Best Practices When Dealing with Outside Environmental Consultants and Contractors
  • Responding to Environmental, Health and Safety Concerns and Crisis Management
  • Facility-wide Energy Planning
  • Important Considerations for Solar and Other Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects
  • C-PACE and other State Financing Programs for Renewable Energy and Green Building Projects

Attendees will benefit from an engaging discussion with attorneys who regularly assist independent schools with environmental and energy-related matters. The presenters invite your input on particular issues your school is facing and any other matters you would like them to discuss during the presentation. Please provide your suggestions, comments and questions by email to jsiegel@goodwin.com if there are specific issues you would like the presenters to address.

WHEN: October 3, 2018  from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Last Chance to Register: 2018 Education Legislation Summary Seminar, Hartford Session

There is still time to register for the 2018 Education Legislation Summary Seminar taking place Friday, September 14th at the Hartford Marriott Downtown.  We hope you can join us!

In its 2018 Regular Session, the General Assembly made a number of changes in the statutes that affect public education in Connecticut. This workshop is intended to give public and charter school personnel an overview of some of the changes that were made in the Regular Session.

Workshop topics include new guidance and/or changes regarding the following:

  • Restraint, Seclusion and Exclusionary Time Out
  • Student Data Privacy
  • Guidelines for Life Threatening Food Allergies, Glycogen Storage Disease and Administering Epinephrine
  • New Curriculum Requirements
  • Special Education Service Provider Agreements
  • Oral Health Assessments
  • Changes to Mandated Reporting Requirements
  • Personnel or Medical Record Requests
  • Background Checks
  • Minimum Budget Requirement
  • and more

>> Download the 2018 Education Legislation Summary.

Parking will be validated. We look forward to seeing you at this complimentary seminar.

WHEN: September 14, 2018 from 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM
WHERE: Hartford Marriott Downtown, 200 Columbus Blvd, Hartford, CT  >> Get Directions

CAS Legal Mailbag Question of the Week – 9/11/2018

Originally appeared in the CAS Weekly Newsletter.
Written by attorney Thomas B. Mooney.

Dear Legal Mailbag:

I had a student audio record a teacher in a classroom for the express purpose of getting the teacher in trouble. The student’s complaint was that the teacher was not adequately supervising an “annoying” student who repeatedly disrupts the class. The student who made the recording had come to the administration previously to complain about this teacher’s classroom management. As a result, a paraprofessional had been put in the room, and one student was removed. The remaining “annoying” student, however, was still in the classroom. The teacher feels that the rest of the class, including the student who made the secret recording, are “ganging” up on the student, who is a special education student with behavioral problems and needs extra support.

Is it legal in Connecticut for a student to record a teacher without the teacher’s knowledge or permission with the intention of getting the teacher into trouble?

Thank you,
Who’s Paranoid? Continue Reading

Gwen Zittoun to Present on Data Privacy and Cyber Risk

Gwen Zittoun will co-present on a Data Privacy and Cyber Risk Panel as part of the Connecticut Risk Management Association’s Annual Risk Management Day on September 14, 2018 at the Hilton Garden Inn located in Wallingford, CT.

The panel will cover the evolving data privacy statutory requirements, emergency cybersecurity threats, the development of internal data privacy procedures, the technical components that go into building internal protect against privacy breaches and much more.

Click here to register for this event.


SEE YOU IN COURT! – September 2018

The glory days for Nutmeg Knights Football were long gone, the last winning season having been in 2003.  But Coach Rock, the beleaguered long-time Knights coach, soldiered on.  Calls for change grew shriller, however, as the Knights dropped their first two games this fall by lopsided scores.  Mr. Superintendent decided that he had to do something.

The next day, Mr. Superintendent stopped by to chat with Coach Rock before practice, and he gently broached the subject of retirement.  “None of us is getting any younger, Coach.  Don’t you think that it is time for you to hang up your cleats?”

In the moment, Coach Rock was quiet, even contemplative.  “Despite my tough exterior,” he responded after a long pause, “I am a sensitive soul, and I am sick of the all the criticism.  If these Football Boosters think that they can do a better job with the meager talent here in Nutmeg, let them try.  I will resign.”

True to his word, Coach Rock sent Mr. Superintendent an email later that day, stating, “I hereby resign my employment as coach, effective soon.”  Mr. Superintendent promptly replied by email with a grateful acknowledgment, stating that he would bring Coach Rock’s resignation to the Board at its next meeting.

There are no secrets in Nutmeg, and somehow word of Coach Rock’s resignation was soon the topic of controversy.  A group of Nutmeg Knights alumni promptly started a Facebook page, “Winning Isn’t Everything,” which accused Mr. Superintendent of age discrimination against Coach Rock and demanded that Coach Rock withdraw what they now described as his “offer” to resign.  Coach Rock was touched by this show of support, and he called Mr. Superintendent to say that he had reconsidered and would continue on as coach of the Nutmeg Knights.

Mr. Superintendent was surprised and annoyed by this news, and he told Coach Rock that it was too late for equivocation.  “I have your resignation,” he replied curtly, “and the Board will be accepting it at its next meeting.”  But Coach Rock was not persuaded, and later that day, he sent Mr. Superintendent another email, stating “To avoid any misunderstanding, please be advised that I have withdrawn my resignation, and I look forward to coaching the Knights for many years to come.”

By the next Board meeting, battle lines were drawn, and a group of Knights football alumni were in attendance, many wearing their old jerseys.  During Public Comment, a number of former players gave testimonial to Coach Rock’s influence on their lives.  But others spoke in favor of Mr. Superintendent, and one speaker even used part of his three minutes to play a recording of “It’s Time to Say Goodbye.”

Eventually, the Board went on with its meeting, and it addressed the question of Coach Rock’s resignation when it reached the standing agenda item, Personnel Actions.  Mr. Chairperson started the discussion by noting that it was time for some new blood in the football program and that the Board should support its Superintendent.  Surprisingly, there was little discussion.  Mal Content moved to accept Coach Rock’s resignation, and the Board promptly and unanimously so voted.

Is Coach Rock done in Nutmeg?

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Learning Forum: Failure to Report Child Abuse and/or Neglect

Shipman & Goodwin’s School Law Practice Group is proud to host “Learning Forum: Failure to Report Child Abuse and/or Neglect,” a program presented by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) in partnership with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Superintendents and DCF personnel from across the state will participate in this important discussion of topics relevant to Connecticut school districts, including careline process, mandated reporting, legal process, best practices and prosecutorial discretion.

The program will take place on August 20, 2018, from 8:30-11:00am in the firm’s Hartford, Connecticut office.

For more information and a complete agenda, click here.


SEE YOU IN COURT! – July/August 2018

Bob Bombast was watching “Fox News” on June 27 when the scroll at the bottom of the screen caught his eye.  “Supreme Court strikes down agency fees; deals big blow to public sector unions!!”  Though Bob had chaired the Personnel Committee for the Nutmeg Board of Education for many years, he had no idea that the various Board employees did not have to be union members, and he had never heard about agency fees.  But being intellectually curious, Bob found the Court’s opinion in Janus v. AFSCME online, read the syllabus and some of the press coverage, and Bob decided to share this news with the Personnel Committee.

Bob emailed Penny Pincher and Mal Content, the other members of the Personnel Committee, with a copy to Mr. Superintendent and the other Board members.  In the email, Bob described the Court’s decision, and he informed everyone that he was calling a meeting of the Personnel Committee for the following Thursday to review the implications of the decision for the Nutmeg Public Schools.

Mr. Chairperson promptly responded to Bob that he would like to attend the Committee meeting as well, because he too is interested in learning more about the Janus decision.  Indeed, within twenty-four hours all of the Board members had informed Bob that they would also be attending the next meeting of the Personnel Committee.  Bob, who never shied away from the limelight, grandly thanked the Board members for their interest and promised them an enlightening evening.  Bob was so pleased with the response to the announced Personnel Committee meeting that he even invited local reporter Nancy Newshound of the Nutmeg Bugle to the meeting.

Given that Personnel Committee members usually met alone, Bob Bombast beamed as he looked out at the full room, with the other Board members and Nancy Newshound sitting in the front row.  Bob opened the meeting by describing the Court’s decision, which holds that compulsory agency fees for non-members violate the free speech rights of those employees, and Bob recommended that the Personnel Committee notify all Board employees of this new ruling.  After a brief discussion among the Committee members, Bob opened the meeting up to public discussion.  First to raise his hand was Mr. Chairperson, whom Bob promptly recognized.

“I don’t know why we would have to tell everyone about the decision,” Mr. Chairperson asked rhetorically, “since it only affects agency fee payers.”  But before Bob could respond, Nancy Newshound piped up.

“I think that this is an illegal meeting!” Nancy announced.  “The meeting is posted as a Personnel Committee meeting, but all the members of the Board are here tonight.  This is an unposted and illegal meeting of the Nutmeg Board of Education!”

“That’s what I get for inviting you, Nancy?” Bob snapped back.  “This is my meeting, a public meeting of the Personnel Committee, and if the other members of the Board want to attend, that is their right!”

Who’s correct here, Bob or Nancy?

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CAS Legal Mailbag Question of the Week – 7/11/2018

Originally appeared in the CAS Weekly Newsletter.
Written by attorney Thomas B. Mooney.

Dear Legal Mailbag:

At the end of each year, the English Department at the High School publishes “The Light,” an anthology of poetry written by our students. Teachers can nominate particularly good student work, and students can submit work themselves for publication. A small group of teachers reads the submissions and chooses the “best” poetry for inclusion in the anthology. I say “best” in quotations because one of the poems that was included has caused a firestorm on social media. I am no tender flower, but the poem in question made even me uneasy in its quite graphic depiction of a sexual encounter between two students. Now, the Internet is blowing up with parental and community outrage that we would have published this poem in a school anthology.

I talked to the members of the selection committee, and they sheepishly agreed that they wondered whether the poem was appropriate for a school publication. After some debate, however, they agreed that the poem has substantial artistic merit, and they felt that they could not censor this student’s poem because the student has free speech rights.

I know that the United States Supreme Court has provided some guidelines for addressing student speech in its decisions in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988) and Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser (1986). However, I don’t know where we can draw the line in telling a student that her poem won’t be included in the anthology despite, in the eyes of some, its artistic merit. Help!

Thank you,
What’s Art Anyway

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