SEE YOU IN COURT! – May 2019

With the arrival of spring and the coming of summer, incidents of student misbehavior increase in Nutmeg each year. This year, Mr. Superintendent has had his hands full in dealing with such matters, and during the executive session last week, he announced that the Board was now in “Expulsion Season.” “It’s going to be hard to deal with all of these expulsions,” he explained, “and I will need your help. When the secretary calls to see if you can serve on an expulsion case, please say yes, and when you serve, keep it simple and do what’s right.”

Last night, the Board had its first expulsion hearing of the “season,” with veteran Board members Bob Bombast, Mal Content and Penny Pincher in attendance. Mr. Superintendent started the hearing by presenting the Board members with the arrest notification he had received concerning Joe Blow, now in his fifth year at Nutmeg Memorial High School. The notification stated that Joe was arrested for stealing a car and taking it on a joy ride. Mr. Superintendent then explained that, unfortunately for Joe, his misadventure ended in his crashing the car into a police cruiser. Mr. Superintendent concluded his presentation by recommending expulsion: “Joe Blow clearly does not meet our expectations for students at Nutmeg Memorial High School, and we need to send a message to the entire student body that criminal behavior will not be tolerated. Joe should be expelled for one calendar year!”

Mal Content thanked Mr. Superintendent for his inspiring presentation, and he turned to Joe Blow, who was there with his parents, and he asked him what he had to say for himself. Joe was clearly nervous, but he did manage to tell the Board members that his lawyer told him not to say anything to anyone about his arrest, given the ongoing criminal proceedings. Bob Bombast was uncharacteristically sympathetic to Joe’s dilemma, and he explained to Joe that the case against him was strong and that he will be expelled unless he can explain himself. However, Joe simply repeated that his lawyer told him not to say anything about the situation.

Bob Bombast was frustrated, but he remained sympathetic to Joe’s plight, stating “We really shouldn’t expel Joe if he can’t even defend himself.” But Mr. Superintendent waived the arrest notification around, and he insisted that expulsion was the only appropriate response to Joe’s felonious conduct.

At this point, Mal Content and Penny Pincher were getting impatient. “Look, Joe,” Mal began. “We have you dead to rights here, and if you just sit there without defending yourself, we have no real choice but to expel you.” But Joe just sat there looking uncomfortable.

“OK, then,” Penny stated. “I move that Joe is expelled for one calendar year for his criminal behavior.” Mal promptly seconded Penny’s motion, and the Board members voted, Penny and Mal in favor of expulsion, Bob opposed.

Has Joe been expelled? Continue Reading

CAS Legal Mailbag Question of the Week – 4/24/2019

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

Dear Legal Mailbag:

Yesterday, we caught a special education student with marijuana midway through the school day and we sent him home with his parents during school hours. I like to think of myself as a savvy administrator, and I have better things to do than attend manifestation meetings for these types of offenses. So I have decided to count yesterday as a 0.5 day of suspension. That way, we will only burn 0.5 day of suspension for him. Indeed, if we take this new approach whenever we send a special education student home in the middle of the day, we will count only 0.5 day of suspension that first day, with the result that it will take longer to get to the “more than 10 days” trigger that requires that we conduct a manifestation determination.

Actually, as I think about it, I am pretty darn proud of myself. But before I claim well-deserved kudos from my colleagues, I just want to check to make sure that Legal Mailbag is in agreement.

Thank you,
Thinking Outside the Box
Continue Reading

Linda Yoder Quoted in Special Ed Connection Article, “Prepare gen ed teachers to attend, participate in 504 meetings”

Shipman & Goodwin attorney Linda Yoder has been quoted in the Special Ed Connection® article “ Prepare gen ed teachers to attend, participate in 504 meetings.” To read the full article, please click here.

Reprinted with permission from: Special Ed Connection®. © 2019 LRP Publications, 360 Hiatt Drive, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418. All rights reserved. Special Ed Connection® is your go-to source for compliance guidance and use-today solutions for all your day-to-day special education responsibilities. For FREE access or more information, please call 1-800-341-7874 or visit www.SpecialEdConnection.com. For more LRP Publications resources, visit www.shoplrp.com.

Last Chance to Register for Upcoming Seminar! On the Front Lines: Raising Awareness of Child Trafficking and Exploitation in Connecticut’s Schools

Register today and join us for the live event in Hartford or by live-streaming video webinar.*

According to Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, between 100,000 and 300,000 American children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation, and thousands of children are forced into domestic sex slavery each year, with an average entry age of only 13 years old. In Connecticut alone, DCF has received over 1,000 referrals of child trafficking since January 2008. Because victims are overwhelmingly school-age youths, Connecticut schools are at the front lines of this important issue.

How does this modern-day slavery epidemic affect your student body? Although student-victims will often continue to attend school, it may be difficult to detect the signs of trafficking. Traffickers target student-victims through social media, after-school programs, clubs, or through other students, and often go unnoticed by teachers, coaches, mentors, or other members of your school community. It is important for schools to recognize the signs that a student may be in trouble. This presentation will define child trafficking, aid schools in identifying the warning signs, discuss proactive response and prevention strategies, and outline tips for reporting and responding to abuse.

Join Shipman & Goodwin attorney Joette Katz (former Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families and former Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court), Department of Children and Families Program Supervisor Brooke Morris, and Public Health Expert and Vice Chair of Darkness to Light Dr. Lyndon Haviland as they provide this timely primer to Connecticut schools. Shipman & Goodwin attorney Leander Dolphin will moderate the seminar.  The discussion will focus on topics including:

  • Federal Definition of Human Trafficking: Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)
  • What is child trafficking
  • What is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)
  • Prevalence of Child Trafficking in CT
  • Pathways to Victimization
  • Warning Signs
  • Impact of DMST
  • Who are the Exploiters and Buyers
  • School Response
  • DCF Response

There will be time for Q&A following the discussion.

Who should attend: Heads of School, Assistant Heads of School, Deans and Directors of Student Life, Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Executive Directors, and Special Education/PPS Directors, Board Chairs.

Hartford Seminar – April 23, 2019

When: April 23, 2019, 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM EDT
Where: 8:00 – 8:30 AM, Registration/Breakfast, 8:30 – 10:30 AM

Shipman & Goodwin Hartford Office – REGISTER NOW!

Can’t attend the live program?
This program will also be offered via streaming video, click here to REGISTER for this option. All registrants will receive a recording of the program after the event.

*Please note that the Stamford event has been cancelled and replaced with the video webinar option.

Seating is limited and registration will close when we reach maximum capacity for the event space. Please contact us in advance, if you are registering more than 4 attendees from your school or district.

Featured Post

“Varsity Blues:” Lessons to Be Learned from the Admissions Scandal

In March, federal prosecutors announced criminal charges in connection with the nation’s largest-ever college admissions prosecution.  The federal investigation, called “Operation Varsity Blues,” involved 200 agents and resulted in charges against 50 people in six states.  Those charged include wealthy parents, athletic directors, college coaches, and test administrators.  This investigation and resulting prosecution directly calls into question the integrity of the admission processes at competitive educational institutions, in addition to raising concern about fraudulent test scores and the ability of wealthy parents to use bribes disguised as charitable contributions to secure their child’s acceptance into elite institutions.

Among the allegations are claims that parents conspired to bribe varsity coaches and administrators at elite universities to designate applicants as recruited athletes, thereby facilitating the applicants’ admission to those universities.  As part of the scheme, parents assisted in creating fabricated athletic profiles that provided the basis for preferential admission.  In other instances, parents worked with an outside consultant to falsify test scores to enhance students’ admission profiles.

In the wake of these criminal charges, two Stanford University students have filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of California seeking class-action status against some of the same universities.  The students claim that the schools represented that their admission process would be based on the applicants’ merits, when, instead, they received an admissions process that was “warped and rigged by fraud.”  The students seek approximately $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Olsen v. Stanford University, et. al., 3:10-cv-01351, see page 16 (N.D. Cal. filed March 13, 2019).

Moving forward, there are a number of proactive steps that colleges and independent schools should consider to safeguard against potential risks or vulnerabilities that have come to light as a result of the Varsity Blues investigation. Continue Reading

CAS Legal Mailbag Question of the Week – 4/10/2019

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

Dear Legal Mailbag:

A student at my school was recently suspended for his behavior. Some parents in the community have taken to social media to express their concerns with the incident and to speculate over the “rumored” consequences. However, one parent wrote on social media that the student is protected under IDEA and will not receive consequences. This comment has sparked Internet controversy and agitation.

My question is, does the school district or do the parents of the student in question have any recourse against other parents disclosing on a public forum that the child receives special education services?

Thank you,
Zip It
Continue Reading

Labor and Employment Spring Seminar: 2019 Public Sector Legal Update

Join us for our annual spring seminar for public sector clients and friends, when we will address issues facing school districts, municipalities and other government agencies. The program begins with a plenary session covering a timely topic, followed by a choice of two breakout sessions allowing for issue discussion in a small setting.

When: May 17, 2019
8:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

Where: Hartford Marriott Downtown
200 Columbus Blvd, Hartford, CT
>> Get Directions
Parking will be validated

REGISTER NOW! Continue Reading

CLE Webinar: Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Employees

Join Shipman & Goodwin labor and employment attorneys Peter Murphy and Greg Jones for this complimentary CLE webinar reviewing effective legal strategies for dealing with difficult employees and the importance of a meaningful approach with regard to employee discipline. Presenters will discuss real life scenarios to aid legal counsel, human resource professionals and supervisory personnel in properly identifying employee misbehavior, including bullying, insubordination, interpersonal issues and other disruptive behaviors. Attorney Jones, a prior law enforcement officer, will provide additional focus on best practices for dealing with violent or aggressive employees, and the legal steps to properly handle investigations and disciplinary hearings. Additional topics will include preventative training, conflict resolution, performance evaluations, and the termination process.

When: April 17, 2019, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT
Where: Webinar

REGISTER NOW!

HR Certification

HRCI

This activity is pending recertification credit from the HR Certification Institute.

 

SHRM

Shipman & Goodwin LLP is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM. This program is valid for 1 PDCs for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit www.shrmcertification.org.

Continued Legal Education (CLE)

This CLE program has been approved in accordance with the requirements of the New York CLE Board for a maximum of 1.0 credit hour, of which 1.0 can be applied toward the Professional Practice requirement. This program is appropriate for both newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

Neither the Connecticut Judicial Branch nor the Commission on Minimum Continuing Legal Education approves or accredits CLE providers or activities. It is the opinion of Shipman & Goodwin that this activity qualifies for one hour toward your annual CLE requirement in Connecticut, including zero hour(s) of ethics/professionalism, but is subject to change based on actual instruction/attendance time.

SEE YOU IN COURT! – April 2019

The members of the Nutmeg Board of Education want to do what they can to improve student achievement in Nutmeg, which has been lagging in comparison to neighboring towns. The problem has been that there is no money for new programs or for hiring additional staff members. But after a “workshop” last week, the Board members came up with a way for the Board to encourage students to study harder and improve their performance at no cost to the school district.

At the conclusion of the discussion, veteran Board member Bob Bombast stated, “In Nutmeg, we are proud of our student athletes, and we want to be even prouder of them. So I propose that our student athletes at the high school must maintain a B average to be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities, starting next year. We know that our student athletes have the capacity to become ‘scholar athletes!’” The other board members chimed in, gushing about how great it will be for student athletes to up their game academically. Mr. Chairperson then invited Bob to present the motion. With no further debate, the Board voted unanimously that, starting in 2019-2020, Nutmeg students will have to carry a regular load of five classes and maintain a B average in their courses to be able to participate in extracurricular activities.

The initial public reaction was surprisingly positive, and the Nutmeg Bugle published an editorial congratulating the Nutmeg Board of Education on its creativity. However, the Nutmeg Boosters expressed opposition to the new policy, and Coach Rock even tweeted that the Board would only implement this new policy “over my dead body.”

Bob Bombast was incensed to read of Coach Rock’s opposition to the policy, and he tweeted back at Coach Rock, “No loser coach will tell the Board what to do.” Soon, battle lines were drawn on social media. The Nutmeg Boosters declared that the new Board policy was illegal because, as a member of CIAC, Nutmeg was bound to following the CIAC eligibility rules, which do not require that student athletes maintain a B average. Bob shot back on Facebook, calling the Boosters’ claims nonsense. Bob also pointedly warned Cock Rock in a series of tweets that he had better either get with the program or find himself another job.

Concerned over this continued controversy, Mr. Chairperson called a special meeting, posting it for “Discussion regarding employee insubordination,” and he asked Mr. Board Attorney to provide a legal opinion on next steps, which Mr. Board Attorney promptly provided.

The room was packed with supporters of Coach Rock. Nonetheless, after calling the meeting to order, Mr. Chairperson convened the Board into executive session for the purpose of discussing Mr. Board Attorney’s legal opinion on next steps. Coach Rock was irate at this turn of events. “I am warning you,” he shouted as the Board members cleared the room for the executive session. “You better not be discussing me. I demand that you do that in public!”

Can the Board have an executive session discussion of Coach Rock and his part in the controversy over higher standards for participating in extracurricular activities? Continue Reading

Seminar: On the Front Lines: Raising Awareness of Child Trafficking and Exploitation in Connecticut’s Schools

Register today and join us for the live event in Hartford or by live-streaming video webinar.*

According to Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, between 100,000 and 300,000 American children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation, and thousands of children are forced into domestic sex slavery each year, with an average entry age of only 13 years old. In Connecticut alone, DCF has received over 1,000 referrals of child trafficking since January 2008. Because victims are overwhelmingly school-age youths, Connecticut schools are at the front lines of this important issue.

How does this modern-day slavery epidemic affect your student body? Although student-victims will often continue to attend school, it may be difficult to detect the signs of trafficking. Traffickers target student-victims through social media, after-school programs, clubs, or through other students, and often go unnoticed by teachers, coaches, mentors, or other members of your school community. It is important for schools to recognize the signs that a student may be in trouble. This presentation will define child trafficking, aid schools in identifying the warning signs, discuss proactive response and prevention strategies, and outline tips for reporting and responding to abuse.

Join Shipman & Goodwin attorney Joette Katz (former Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families and former Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court), Department of Children and Families Program Supervisor Brooke Morris, and Public Health Expert and Vice Chair of Darkness to Light Dr. Lyndon Haviland as they provide this timely primer to Connecticut schools. Shipman & Goodwin attorney Leander Dolphin will moderate the seminar.  The discussion will focus on topics including:

  • Federal Definition of Human Trafficking: Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)
  • What is child trafficking
  • What is Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)
  • Prevalence of Child Trafficking in CT
  • Pathways to Victimization
  • Warning Signs
  • Impact of DMST
  • Who are the Exploiters and Buyers
  • School Response
  • DCF Response

There will be time for Q&A following the discussion.

Who should attend: Heads of School, Assistant Heads of School, Deans and Directors of Student Life, Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Executive Directors, and Special Education/PPS Directors, Board Chairs.

Hartford Seminar – April 23, 2019

When: April 23, 2019, 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM EDT
Where: 8:00 – 8:30 AM, Registration/Breakfast, 8:30 – 10:30 AM

Shipman & Goodwin Hartford Office – REGISTER NOW!

Can’t attend the live program?
This program will also be offered via streaming video, click here to REGISTER for this option. All registrants will receive a recording of the program after the event.

*Please note that the Stamford event has been cancelled and replaced with the video webinar option.

Seating is limited and registration will close when we reach maximum capacity for the event space. Please contact us in advance, if you are registering more than 4 attendees from your school or district.

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