Private & Public General Education Law Practice

Mickes O’Toole, LLC serves clients with the most experienced and largest team of Education Law attorneys with expertise in general, public and private school matters.

Its areas of expertise include, but are not limited to the following:

Student Discipline/Disruptive Parent Actions

Student Discipline/Disruptive Parent Actions: The firm’s education law attorneys regularly represent school districts in student discipline and expulsion proceedings. They have also been routinely requested to assist school districts in resolving issues of disruptive parents/citizens.

Mickes O’Toole school law attorneys have broad experience handling student rights issues, such as access to student records, student privacy issues under FERPA, locker searches, dress codes, school district control over student newspapers, and other forms of student speech. Moreover, it has expertise in the sometimes difficult area of student expressions, religious clubs, distribution of religious materials, and protection of students’ rights to religious expression.

Constitutional Rights

Mickes O’Toole Education Law Practice lawyers have helped school districts navigate the fine balance between constitutional rights of students and the rights of educational institutions.

The firm has litigated the first federal case in which a court held that a student did not have the constitutional right to participate in extracurricular activities. Thus, upholding a school board’s right to establish standards for participation in such activities. Firm education law attorneys have successfully defended a district’s right to bar the wearing of a Confederate flag and other racially divisive items.

Special Education/Section 504/IDEA

Mickes O’Toole, LLC is the first and only full service school law firm to form a specialty group devoted exclusively to represent school districts in special education disputes. The Special Education Practice Group is comprised of the foremost special education litigators in the Midwest.

School law attorneys assist districts in complying with the substantive and procedural requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the special application of FERPA to the educational records of special education students. It has extensive experience in resolving disputes between school districts and parents of disabled students under both IDEA and Section 504. Special education experience spans the entire spectrum from basic administrative proceedings through complex litigation–including Office for Civil Rights investigations, due process hearings, state level review proceedings, and state and federal litigation culminating in settlement, trial, or resolution on appeal.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) litigation matters are best avoided by developing appropriate and effective Board policies and practices. The firm has prepared and/or reviewed and revised FMLA policies for over 200 school districts and colleges.

Most FMLA suits involve allegations that employees were retaliated against for exercising their FMLA rights. These suits generally occur because of poor timing and lack of documentation. Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys have successfully counseled clients at this pre-litigation stage to avoid lawsuits and ensure that the District’s education decisions are upheld in court.

Employment Law / Title VI / Title VII / Title IX

With the shortage of funds experienced by school districts, pension and employee benefits issues have become critical. Firm education law attorneys have prepared HIPPA policies, regulations, notices, forms, and contracts. Mickes O’Toole represents multiple districts with self funded insurance and has assisted these districts in developing and administering the programs.

Employee Benefits/HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules (the HIPAA Rules) protect individuals’ identifiable health information held by covered entities and their business associates (called “protected health information” or “PHI”).

Covered entities under HIPAA are health care clearinghouses, health plans, and most health care providers. Business associates generally are persons or entities (other than members of the workforce of a covered entity) that perform functions or activities on behalf of, or provide certain services to, a covered entity that involve access to PHI.

The Privacy Rule, among other things, regulates the uses and disclosures that a covered entity or business associate may make of PHI.

The Security Rule requires covered entities and business associates to implement administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to secure electronic PHI.

The Breach Notification Rule requires covered entities to notify affected individuals, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and, in some cases, the media (and business associates to notify covered entities), of breaches of unsecured PHI.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cases often interrelate with FMLA and Workers’ Comp issues. In analyzing ADA matters, care must be taken to consider the interplay of other federal and state statutes.

The Special Education Law Litigation Group attorneys are frequently called upon to provide training on the interplay of these statutes. It assists districts in developing accurate job descriptions setting out the “essential functions” of each job category – the key to successfully resolving ADA accommodation issues. The Firm’s Special Education Law Litigation Group attorneys have regularly and successfully defended districts in ADA and ADA retaliation suits.

Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Actions

Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a component of the Department of Education, is charged with enforcement of a variety of federal civil rights statutes including Section 504, Title VI, and Title IX. Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys routinely represent school districts in administrative investigations by OCR personnel.

Representation includes preparing responses to document requests, development of position statement, and where appropriate negotiating resolution agreements.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) mandates confidentiality of student educational records. The firm’s education law attorneys routinely advise districts concerning the differing requirements of these two related statutes.

We also prepare key policies and notices concerning directory information, parental rights to inspect records, defining “educational records,” and preparing FERPA grievance procedures.

Board of Education/Elected Official Liability

Mickes O’Toole, LLC represents boards of education and public elected officials on liability issues. Its education law attorneys conduct a series of six seminars at various locations on this topic.

Mickes O’Toole is one of two law firms retained by the Missouri United School Insurance Counsel (MUSIC) to represent its more than 400 member districts on such matters.

Board of Education Policies

Frequently the success of school districts in litigation depends upon the quality of board policies and the awareness of these policies by the staff. The firm reviews policies and their implementation.

Sunshine Law

Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys work with school clients in Sunshine Law issues by providing training to Board members and staff; by preparing policies involving district records, and in litigating alleged violations of the Act.

Vendor Actions

Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys are often called upon to assist districts in disputes with individual vendors.

Mickes O’Toole school law attorneys minimize these disputes by reviewing and revising vendor contracts to minimize the likelihood of vendor-initiated litigation.

Intergovernmental Agreements

As districts look to find ways to save money and improve services, collaborative relationships become more frequent. In order to obtain better medical insurance coverage at more favorable rates, Mickes O’Toole has assisted several groups of districts in establishing health insurance consortiums.

Real Estate/Acquisitions, Easements, Leases and Contracts Involving Real Property

Because our school district clients include some of the fastest growing school districts in the country, Mickes O’Toole has substantial experience in assisting districts in the acquisition of building sites. Representation routinely includes advice on construction, architect and builder contracts, as well as general construction matters.

The firm is well experienced in advising and negotiating TIF issues on behalf of Missouri districts. The firm’s real estate and litigation attorneys are also well qualified in the law of eminent domain. They also assist districts in disposal of surplus real and personal property.

Public Purchase and Lease Contracts

Mickes O’Toole is called upon to negotiate equipment lease agreements, as well as service agreements involving student transportation, food service and maintenance.

Regardless of whether these arrangements are straight lease, lease purchase, or purchase contracts, it has successfully negotiated contracts ensuring district benefit, student safety, and cost savings.

Personnel and Employee Relations

A significant portion of the firm’s practice is devoted to assisting school districts in dealing effectively with problem teachers, both probationary and tenured. Attorneys advise school administrators on legal requirements in terminating incompetent teachers. They also help draft warning letters, notices of deficiencies, statements of charges, and other statutorily required notices.

In addition, the firm’s education law attorneys have experience representing school districts in the whole gamut of employment problems: probationary teacher non-renewals, employee arbitrations, sexual harassment, overtime, Fair Labor Standards Act issues, unemployment compensation appeals, reductions-in-force, Americans with Disabilities Act issues, and discrimination complaints by employees and former employees. Mickes O’Toole school law attorneys perform audits of district personnel programs.

Labor Relations

Mickes O’Toole’s education law practice originated in the area of teacher association/school board relations. Several of the firm’s school law attorneys are experienced in the negotiation of agreements with teacher and non-teacher groups. Its education law attorneys also have experience in the administration of collective bargaining agreements and in the defense and prosecution of unfair labor practice charges.

Mickes O’Toole attorneys have successfully represented many districts in union representation elections and in bargaining with both certified and non-certified employee groups.

Review and Implementation of Statutes and Regulations

Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys constantly monitor the state and federal legislative process as well as, the myriad of regulations issues at both levels. The firm is also proactive in assisting legislators in drafting bill to help districts perform their educational mission.

Construction and Maintenance Litigation

Mickes O’Toole represents school districts in the area of construction law in two phases. First is the pre-construction phase. In this area we prepare or review and revise bidding specifications, general conditions, architects, construction manager, and builder contracts.

The other aspect is litigation over construction disputes. This involves disputes from all aspects of projects ranging from failure to timely complete to construction defects.

Workers’ Compensation

Mickes O’Toole litigation attorneys have extensive experience litigating workers’ compensation cases in state administrative hearings.

General Tort Liability

Tort liability cases involve a myriad of issues from negligent supervision to injuries resulting from bus accidents.

Mickes O’Toole represents school districts in a variety of tort actions including, but not limited to injuries resulting from student fight to defamation to wrongful discharge. In addition, firm school law attorneys routinely provide training in maintaining a safe school environment and minimizing tort liability.

Insurance Issues

Mickes O’Toole routinely assist districts in evaluating insurance programs developing insurance bid specifications and resolving disputes concerning insurance coverage.

In doing so, Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys are called upon to assist districts in compliance with insurance bid statutes and health insurance consortiums.

Bond Counsel Services

Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys regularly review and advise districts on bond documents; prepared bond issues and tax levy ballots and resolutions. Firm school law attorney are also regularly requested to provide opinions on a variety of public finance documents.

School Funding/Tax and Finance Law
Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys regularly assist school districts in matters relating to local and state taxes.
General School Law/Advice, Direction and Representation Regarding Operations

As part of the firm’s practice in the school law area, education law attorneys and staff are available to confer as needed with school administrators on various legal issues. This service is part of the firm’s preventative law program, designed to help clients avoid litigation.

Occasionally, a brief telephone conversation saves a school client literally thousands of dollars in damages and litigation fees. One of the characteristics of the Education Practice Group is its ability to provide clients with updated legal advice in an efficient and cost effective manner. Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys are always available when our clients need them.

Election Laws

Mickes O’Toole school law attorneys frequently assist school districts in complying with election law.

Representation has included such diverse areas as obtaining court orders to add, delete, or modify bond issue propositions, tax levy propositions, and school board election ballots. The firm advises school boards concerning campaign laws, financial disclosures and nepotism issues.

Labor Relations

Mickes O’Toole’s education law practice originated in the area of teacher association/school board relations. Several of the firm’s school law attorneys are experienced in the negotiation of agreements with teacher and non-teacher groups. Its education law attorneys also have experience in the administration of collective bargaining agreements and in the defense and prosecution of unfair labor practice charges.

Mickes O’Toole attorneys have successfully represented many districts in union representation elections and in bargaining with both certified and non-certified employee groups.

Transgender Students

Info coming soon…

Safety

Mickes O’Toole counsels clients, including schools and colleges on compliance with the requirements of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OSHA) and its Missouri corollary.

As an example, the firm presently assists districts in dealing with what appears to be “sick building” issues. Mickes O’Toole education law attorneys regularly provide training for school staff in minimizing safety problems for staff and students.

Vocational Education

Due to our representation of a large number of rural school districts, the firm regularly deals with vocational education issues.

Representation includes districts which host regional vocational centers. Much of the counsel in this area involves financing and funding issues.

Our team of professionals welcomes
the opportunity to serve your needs.

Education Law Group

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