Photo of Anne H. Littlefield

Anne represents schools in labor relations, employment and education law, including collective bargaining, personnel policies and practices, constitutional law, special education, student discipline, freedom of information, and education policies. She negotiates collective bargaining agreements on behalf of schools, including representation in interest arbitration proceedings as needed. Anne works with schools to address issues such as bullying and sexual harassment. She is often called upon to advise schools regarding professional boundaries and child abuse and neglect issues.  In her role as general counsel to boards of education around the state, Anne facilitates self-evaluation and goal-setting sessions. She also leads Shipman & Goodwin's model policy project, which provides policy support and guidance to a number of school districts.

Anne serves as General Counsel to Shipman & Goodwin. From 2010 through 2017, she was Co-Chair of the firm's School Law Practice Group, and from 2011 through 2017, she served on the firm's seven-member Management Committee.

Portrait of confident professor with university students in classroomEarlier this month in the city of Pittsburg, Kansas, a group of curious student journalists raised serious questions about the credentials of their newly hired principal, Amy Robertson.  According to the Kansas City Star, Robertson had received 100 percent support from the district school board, but some of the students at the Pittsburg high school were not equally convinced.  The student journalists decided to look into the legitimacy of Robertson’s qualifications.  As the students investigated Robertson’s educational credentials, what they discovered was quite suspicious and raised red flags about the new principal’s background.

First, the students learned that her university degree came from Corllins University, which operated as a diploma factory of sorts where enrollees could buy the degree of their choice.  Later, the Kansas City Star reached out to the U.S. Department of Education and learned that the federal agency had no evidence of Corllins’ operation or closure.  Subsequently, the student journalists learned that Robertson had served as Principal at the American Scientific School in Dubai, a school receiving multiple ratings of “unsatisfactory” by Dubai’s education authority, which ultimately closed down in 2013.   Armed with revealing information about Robertson’s education and career, the student journalists wrote a news story in their school paper. Days after the release of that story, Robertson resigned.

What lesson can schools take from these Pittsburg students? When considering applicants, especially for positions that require extensive scholarship and experience, schools must do more than check off credentials.  An extra search into an applicant’s background can save a school from an embarrassing situation such as that faced in Pittsburg, Kansas. 
Continue Reading High School Sleuths Expose Questionable Credentials of New Principal

Howard_C_WebOn April 24, 2017, Shipman & Goodwin attorney Chuck Howard will moderate a presentation at the International Ombudsman Association meeting in Minneapolis entitled “Education Conflict
Continue Reading Chuck Howard to Moderate International Ombudsman Association Meeting Presentation: The Education Conflict Resolution

Woman with colored flag on hand making finger frameIssues regarding transgender students and employees have been at the forefront of political, legal and social discussion in recent months.  As independent schools consider their role in promoting the health and safety of students, protecting individual rights and privacy, and preventing avoidable discrimination claims, thoughtful consideration should be given to practices and procedures relative to both transgender employees and students. Though Connecticut’s law protecting gender identity and expression expressly applies to employees and public school students, non-public schools do not explicitly come within the proscriptive circumference of applicable state law concerning transgender rights when it comes to students.  Nonetheless, schools are well advised to anticipate how these issues will affect current practices and ensure that such practices square with state law and guidance and, if applicable, your school’s existing mission and policies concerning inclusion, diversity, respect, and non-discrimination.

Impact of Title IX

Much of the public discussion regarding transgender rights was generated in response to guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice in May of 2016 confirming their position that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, includes protection for transgender students.  In February of 2017, however, the U.S. Department of Education’s directives concerning the rights of transgender students under Title IX changed course when the current administration rescinded the 2016 guidance, muddying the collective understanding of how federal agencies interpret the scope of Title IX.  For independent schools, it is important to understand that the requirements of Title IX apply only to educational institutions that are considered “recipients” of federal funds.  Thus, regardless of the current national landscape under federal law, independent schools must continue to bear in mind obligations pursuant to applicable state law relative to gender identity and transgender rights.


Since 2011, “gender identity or expression” has been recognized as a protected category under Connecticut’s non-discrimination laws.  In light of the federal withdrawal of guidance protecting transgender students in public schools under Title IX, in February 2017, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced by executive order that the State of Connecticut will continue to assure that the rights of transgender students in public schools remain protected under state law.  Although the guidance itself was addressed to Superintendents of public schools within the state, its implications transcend the bounds of public school districts by underscoring the importance of referring to thoughtfully crafted educational institution standards and best practices in furtherance of the protection of transgender student rights.

Although independent schools are not directly subject to the law protecting transgender students in public schools, student safety, non-discrimination and harassment policies, and general campus climate should be revisited to ensure that policies and procedures are adequate.  Independent schools in Connecticut may refer to the Connecticut Safe School Coalition’s guidance concerning gender identity and expression non-discrimination in public schools in revisiting their own policies and procedures.
Continue Reading Transgender Students in Independent Schools: Developing Best Practices in a Confusing Political Landscape