Public Education

Public Education

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore is a full-service law firm for public education clients.  We provide general counsel, labor and litigation advice and assistance to a variety of educational institutions in all legal aspects of education, employment, labor relations, business, construction, and facilities.

As matters arise, we take a proactive approach to achieve an effective resolution. We are also, however, experienced in all aspects of hearings, arbitration and litigation including representing our education clients before federal and state agencies with jurisdiction over public entities, including the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the State Office of Administrative Hearings, the U.S. Department of Labor’s, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, including Cal-OSHA and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and the State of California’s Department of General Services, including the Division of the State Architect (DSA).

Members of the Firm have first-hand experience and in-depth understanding of the special demands of labor relations and employment law as they apply to educational institutions. We routinely advise on a variety of business and facilities issues facing our education clients.  Our construction law advice spans all stages of construction projects, from inception through project completion and beyond.  We are known throughout the state for the breadth and depth of our expertise in representing California schools (public, independent, private, religious and charter) as well as, county offices of education, community college districts and 4-year colleges and universities.  To learn more about our independent school law services, visit our Private Education Practice page.

Areas in which we work

Labor Relations

Our attorneys are experienced in negotiating and interpreting collective bargaining agreements under the EERA and HEERA for faculty as well as classified personnel.  We provide advice and counsel on issues affecting labor relations between management and staff and we handle all aspects of labor relations disputes including contract administration (including advice on grievances, handling of arbitrations, contract interpretation) and PERB proceedings (representation cases, unfair practice cases, impasse determination and other matters).

Employment

We have extensive experience in all types of employment matters.  We handle employment harassment, discrimination or retaliation claims. We review and draft bylaws, faculty and staff handbooks, personnel procedures and policies, enrollment agreements and related documents.  We handle layoffs as well as employee discipline, including terminations and appeals, for certificated/academic and classified employees.  We advise regularly on employee fringe benefits and retirement issues (e.g., FMLA, STRS, PERS, COBRA).  We are also experienced in handling wage and hour issues (e.g. FLSA) and employment issues specific to specially funded employees or campus safety departments.

School and College Administration & Governance

We provide advice to school and community college districts on all aspects of administration and governance.  We assist in questions related to budget, finance, audits and audit responses.  We are experts in the areas of conflicts of interest including Government Code section 1090 conflicts, Political Reform Act conflicts, and common law conflicts of interest.  Clients regularly call on us to offer advice and counsel about whether a conflict exists, and what the effect the conflict has.  We routinely train on all types of conflict of interest topics.  We have advised many clients as they move from at-large to district elections and from odd-year to even-year elections.  We are expert on the issues that arise with a change in election practices.  Finally, we are passionate about the Brown Act and all the many issue that come up regarding agendas, proper reporting out, and what information is proper in closed session.  

Student Affairs

We regularly advise school and community college districts on the complex issues involving student affairs.  We address student discipline, student harassment, investigations, and withdrawal from school or college.  We frequently provide advice on student attendance issues, including SARB procedures.  We are knowledgeable regarding student work permit issues.

We regularly advise public entities regarding the complexities of First Amendment issues, including free speech, and reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.   We have often dealt with other civil rights questions, including the sometimes-thorny issues of discrimination and harassment, as well as Title IX, and sexual misconduct on campus.

We assist instructional staff to address issues such as meeting courses enough hours to grant instructional credit, minimum qualifications and credential issues, bilingual instruction questions.  Our attorneys have extensive experience in various special education questions including denial of FAPE, IEP issues, stay-put questions, and proper 504 plans.

We have extensive experience with preparing, reviewing, and advising on student handbooks, student contracts, individual behavior contracts and related questions.  Our clients often call on us to address breaches of student contracts.

Litigation

Our attorneys are experts in all phases of litigation in both Federal and State courts: pleading, discovery, motion practice - including summary judgments and summary adjudications, alternative dispute resolution, settlement and trial.  For more information, visit the Litigation Services section of our website.

Examples of cases we are currently handling or have handled include:

  • Davenport v. State Center Community College District – Federal Court.  Former professor sued the District alleging that it terminated him in retaliation for him allegedly filing a sexual harassment complaint.  We were successful in dismissing Davenport's state law claims at the motion to dismiss stage, partially dismissing his federal retaliation claim in the second motion to dismiss, and later successful on his federal claims in a motion for summary judgment.  
  • Crosby v. South Orange Community College District - the Court of Appeal held that a college could impose reasonable time, place and manner regulations on the use of internet access in a college library.
  • Henderson v. Victor Valley Community College District Board of Trustees - multiple cause of action case in which one cause of action was dismissed at the demurrer stage.  A motion for summary adjudication was awarded for additional causes of action and a court trial was won on the rescission cause of action.  The remaining cause of action for defamation was settled by the individual plaintiff.  
  • De O'Campo v. Los Angeles Unified School District – in this 4 plaintiff case alleging gender and race discrimination, a summary judgment was awarded in favor of the District.
  • Johnson & Holley v. Los Angeles Unified School District - Six-week bench trial of retaliation, wrongful termination, violation of Education Code Section 45192 causes of action.  The decision for District on all causes.
  • Waldrep v. Los Angeles Unified School District and Krupin v. Los Angeles Unified School District  - summary judgments obtained on these two separate, but related cases, brought by teachers claiming race discrimination and retaliation.
  • Davenport v. State Center Community College District – in this unpublished case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the termination of a tenured faculty member on the grounds of dishonesty and evident unfitness for service. 
  • Tatum v. Chaffey Community College District - obtained summary judgment against a faculty member who breached his sabbatical leave agreement with the district, and successfully defended the judgment in excess of $100,000 on appeal.
  • White v. Antelope Valley Collegesummary judgment obtaining a complete dismissal in this case which alleged Title VII discrimination (race and gender), age discrimination, retaliation, disparate treatment and disparate impact.

Investigations

LCW attorneys regularly conduct investigations on behalf of community college and K-12 districts and 4 -year colleges and universities involving the full range of workplace and student-related issues, including allegations of discrimination, harassment, student/faculty misconduct and policy violations.  We are experienced in conducting Title IX investigations and investigations of on- and off-campus incidents, including those that occur during internships or clinical assignments.  We have several ATIXA certified investigators.   We understand how to work with administrators and local law enforcement to conduct a prompt and appropriate investigation. To learn more about this area of expertise, visit our Investigations Practice page.

Business, Construction, and Facilities

LCW represents community college and K-12 districts in various business, construction and facilities matters.  We provide a full range of advice related to the business administration of a district, including contract review and contract negotiations.  We advise on all aspects of construction projects, from bidding through completion and handle facilities issues such as ADA, leasing, and intergovernmental agreements.  Our clients trust us to provide risk assessment, offer legal options, and strive to efficiently resolve claims if they arise.  To learn more about this area of expertise, visit our Business, Construction, and Facilities Practice page.

Model Policy and Procedures

Since 2000, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore has partnered with the Community College League of California, to provide a Board Policy and Administrative Procedure Service.  The Service is designed to assist districts maintain up-to-date Board Policy and Administrative Procedure manuals, by offering sample policies and checklists for procedures that implement board policies that are either legally required, legally advised, or suggested as good practice.  The service also provides workshops and regular updates reflecting changes in laws, regulations, and other standards. Using this experience we can assist your school, college, or university create legally compliant, policies and procedures to protect your district, and meet all your obligations to students, employees, members of the public, and members of your governing board.

Training Services

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore is well- known for the quality of our training.  We provide training to school and community college districts as well as 4-year colleges and universities on the full range of employment, student, educational and operational issues.  Our trainers are experienced public education law attorneys who regularly advise top school, college, and university administrators and governing boards and train on a variety of board level and governance issues.  

Our attorneys are regularly sought after to present at statewide and regional conferences including the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA), the Community College League of California (CCLC), the Association for Chief Human Resources Officers (ACHRO), the Association of Chief Business Officers (ACBO), the Chief Executive Officers group (CEO), the Chief Instructional Officers (CIOs).  In addition, LCW has Employment Relations Consortiums comprised solely of educational institutions.  

Our trainings are highly interactive and provide important information, tools, and best practices to help California educational administrators confront the many challenges they face each day.  These trainings also help reduce liability.  By increasing awareness of legal risks, and providing tools and strategies to address them, we help our clients keep risk at bay.

We offer 60 different trainings on topics administrators regularly deal with, including:

  • Bullying
  • Campus safety
  • Construction and contract issues
  • Education law
  • Employment law
  • Ethics and conflicts of interest
  • FERPA
  • Investigations
  • Labor relations issues
  • Layoff issues
  • Mandated reporting
  • Retirement issues
  • Risk management
  • Special education
  • Student and employee privacy laws
  • The Brown Act and Public Records Act and
  • Title IX and related issues

We also offer customized training targeted to specific needs and issues.  We can provide our trainings at your campus, an off- campus location, in our five statewide officers, by webinar, or video conference. Explore our calendar to find a training of interest.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

We are well-versed in the many nuances of the ACA.  Our team of ACA attorneys stays current on the quickly evolving legal developments in this area.  We can assist with compliance issues and analyze how collective bargaining agreements with faculty and classified staff might impact ACA compliance.  To learn more about this area of expertise, visit our Affordable Care Act Practice page.

News & Knowledge

& Knowledge View All News 

May 9, 2017 Tips from the Table

Negotiations: The Timing and Order of Settlements

Final Judgment Rule – Four Exceptions to Keep in Mind
Jun 20, 2017 Blog Posts

Final Judgment Rule – Four Exceptions to Keep in Mind

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Summer Lovin’, Had Me A Look At The Recreational Establishment Exemption. Tell Me More, Tell Me More!

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Jun 12, 2017 Special Bulletins

Time for Districts to Certify Compliance with SB 1379 is Near

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Jun 5, 2017 Blog Posts

Is Your Public Agency Aware of These Lesser Known Job-Protected Leaves?

Many public agencies are familiar with the well-known reasons why an employee can take time off of work, such as for paid sick leave, family and medical leave, disability or industrial injury leave, and jury duty leave.  However, in California, there are a few “lesser known” leav

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California Legislation to Watch in The Final Journey to the Governor’s Desk

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With 5 offices across California, our attorneys are always nearby. Whether you are seeking legal advice and counsel, or simply looking to schedule a preventative training workshop, we are here to help!

Communication Counts!
Oct 11, 2017 LCW Labor Relations Certification Program

Communication Counts!

Speaker: Peter J. Brown, Kristi Recchia
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Please contact Cynthia Weldon, Director of Marketing & Training, 310.981.2000.

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