Upcoming Seminar: Hot Topics in Special Education – Hartford

Rebecca Santiago and Peter Maher for a timely discussion of hot topics and legal developments in special education law. Topics will include:

  • Update on trends in special education
  • State complaint process, how do you respond to a state complaint
  • Update on current bills & pending legislation
  • Review of recent State Department of Education hearings & decisions

This program is intended for: Special Education/Pupil Services Directors, Administrators, and Personnel; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendents, and Executive Directors. We look forward to seeing you at this complimentary seminar for our public and charter school clients.

When: June 11, 2019, 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM EDT

Where: 8:00 – 8:30 AM, Registration/Breakfast | 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM, Seminar/Webinar

Shipman & Goodwin Hartford Office
Courtroom – 20th Floor
One Constitution Plaza
Hartford, CT
Get Directions >>

REGISTER NOW!

*This program will also be offered via streaming video, click here to register for this 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 district.

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

The IRS Enters the 21st Century

The IRS has provided notice that effective May 28, 2019, it will be expanding the methods by which a tax-exempt independent school, college or university (a “school”) can satisfy the required disclosure of its racially nondiscriminatory policy by now permitting schools to publish such policy on the school’s website.

Background

The IRS currently requires that schools adopt and annually publicize a racially nondiscriminatory policy regarding students. The policy must provide, at minimum, that:

  1. The school admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school; and
  2. The school does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

Continue Reading

CAS Legal Mailbag Question of the Week – 5/8/2019

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

Dear Legal Mailbag:

I am one of the assistant principals at my high school and I share the duty to oversee the athletic program with my principal. Over recent years, there has been a steady increase of parents using small video cameras, iPads and even cell phones to record images of athletic competitions and, sometimes, even practices. As I have observed the growing practice, I would shrug my shoulders and figure that no one, least of all me, can stand in the way of progress, and my principal seemed not to care much either.

Last week, that changed. My principal got an email from an irate parent of a student athlete, outraged that another parent had posted video excerpts of a soccer match at our high school on his Facebook page. It didn’t help that the son of the complaining parent was the goalie, and that the video clip showed the son diving clumsily and unsuccessfully at the ball as the other player scored the game-winning goal. My principal is a survivor, and he saw no good coming from his getting in the middle of these two parents, and in the best management tradition, he dumped the problem on my lap to “figure it out!” Being a good soldier, I accepted the assignment.

I did a bunch of research and I concluded that the posting of the video by the second parent was a FERPA violation because the goalie’s face and identity were clearly visible and, as such, the recording was personally-identifiable information about the goalie. I called the parent who posted the video and directed him to take down the video. I was gratified by his prompt agreement, but I was surprised by his claim that he was doing so as a courtesy, and not because he had to. I asked him if he knew what he was talking about, and he assured me that he did, gratuitously adding that he could not say the same for me.

What gives?

Thank you,
Privacy Protector  Continue Reading

Webinar: Best Practices for Conducting Workplace Investigations

Join Shipman & Goodwin employment attorneys Zach Hummel and Keegan Drenosky for this complimentary CLE webinar outlining the steps employers should take to conduct legally sound workplace investigations arising from complaints involving discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, bullying, violence, whistleblowing, retaliation, fraud and other activities. The value of an effective workplace investigation can’t be overstated.  A thorough and well-constructed workplace investigation will give an employer the factual findings on which it may take appropriate action and help avoid employment law liability.  The presentation will explore the details of the essential components of a good investigation–from planning and then conducting the various aspects of the investigation, through finalizing and then implementing the results of the investigation.  This presentation will enable employers and in-house counsel to make informed decisions when handling routine or sensitive investigations.

When: May 29, 2019, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT
Where: Webinar

REGISTER NOW!

Measles Outbreak and Implications for Connecticut Schools

Measles is spreading rapidly across the United States. As of April 26, the CDC has confirmed 704 individual cases of measles in 22 states. CDC, Measles Cases and Outbreaks. This is the largest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994, and since measles was declared eliminated roughly twenty years ago.

As of April 12, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed there have been three cases of measles in Connecticut for 2019. DPH Press Release (4/12/19). In comparison with other areas around the country, immunization rates in Connecticut generally remain high, per immunization data published by the DPH on a statewide and county-wide level. Last week, in an effort to increase public awareness on this important issue, and with the goal of influencing increased focus on immunization rates, the DPH decided to publish immunization rate data at the school level for schools across CT. This data was published on May 3. DPH, School Immunization Survey Data. However, due to reported inaccuracies in some of the school data regarding exemption rates, DPH has indicated that it will be releasing updated data this upcoming Friday, May 10. Corrected Vaccine Data. Continue Reading

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.

“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

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