School districts today face a diverse set of legal challenges from freedom of speech to collective bargaining to the due diligence process. School district lawyers at K&L Gates provide a full range of legal services to address these challenges, drawing on broad experience gained over more than 90 years of counseling school districts and school boards in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Our lawyers are committed to public education. We have served on school boards, advisory committees, boards of trustees, and other public education organizations, and have been proactive on many school levy and bond campaigns. Our involvement in various aspects of public education means that we can communicate effectively with the school districts and the students and the communities that they serve. No matter what the challenge, K&L Gates consistently delivers reliable, experienced legal services.
We regularly advise districts on their labor and employment, evaluation, and termination processes, including the development of outreach and recruitment efforts that comply with affirmative action and laws against discrimination, hiring policies and practices, background checks and internal investigations, professional misconduct and revocation standards for certified personnel, employee evaluations, discipline, discharge, and nonrenewal of certified and classified staff. We also represent school districts in all aspects of collective bargaining, including grievances, arbitrations, strikes, unit clarification and certification issues, and reductions in force. We have led contract negotiating teams, obtaining cost-saving reforms in health care insurance and other benefits.
Our lawyers take a proactive approach to assist districts in complying with the wide array of constitutional, statutory, and regulatory requirements that govern school operations. This includes assistance with special education compliance, school policies and procedures, academic freedom, equal access, free speech, freedom of information, school accommodations, board responsibilities, personnel policies and procedures, student and teacher rights, school choice, child abuse reporting, records requirements, drug and alcohol testing, student discipline, mandatory expulsions, and search and seizure. If a district is challenged, however, we are ready to provide litigation support, including the defense of discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, and other claims. We have represented school districts in due process hearings, in various administrative proceedings, and before state and federal courts.
In providing legal services to school districts, we understand the importance of developing and tracking legislative proposals. We have drafted and monitored bills and proposed ordinances at the state and local levels on behalf of school districts, including state legislation related to the school levies, school district boundary process, school construction funding, and school construction authority. In addition, we have worked on proposed legislation to change the public works process and the acquisition technology in school districts, as well as many other bills affecting school districts. We have also assisted in drafting local ordinances as they affect school districts.
We have successfully defended against court challenges to innovative school legislation affecting financially and academically distressed districts. We have defended school board members against attempted takeover of the district by the state education department. We have extensive litigation experience in Title IX discrimination and “disparate impact” matters and statewide school funding issues.
We welcome the opportunity to provide school district clients with in-service trainings on a wide variety of issues. Our school district lawyers have significant experience litigating and advising school districts on such issues as special education, First Amendment, employment discrimination, and collective bargaining agreements.
Our lawyers can tailor trainings to the specific client needs, and we have provided trainings in the areas of: