(3 credits)

Prerequisite course: EDU-7150 V1: Leadership for Improvement 

Course Description

Although most local education authorities have their own legal counsel, all stakeholders benefit from a working knowledge of school law, especially those laws pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of school personnel and students. In this course, you will analyze state and federal legislation that impacts a variety of local school policies. Legal foundations for health, safety, attendance, and discipline policies will be addressed in addition to policies regarding the rights of students, teachers, parents, guardians, and other stakeholders.

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Course Overview

Number of Activities: 8

Learning Outcomes:

1.Assess the role of federal and state case law in setting school-related policies.

2.Evaluate policies for compliance with regulations and legislation.

3.Determine the impact of legislation and policies regarding health and safety at individual schools.

4.Interpret legislation and policy related to voucher programs and non-public school entities.

5.Evaluate legislation and policy regarding students with exceptionalities.6.Investigate legislation and policy regarding the rights of school stakeholders.

Course Concepts:

1.School-Related Federal Case Law

2.School-Related State Case Law

3.School Health and Safety Policies

4.School Voucher Program Legislation and Policies

5.Student with Exceptionalities Policies6.School Stakeholders’ Rights7.School Policy Compliance

Primary Resource/textbook:

Essex, N. (2016). School law and the public schools: A practical guide for educators (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Course Overview

Section 1: Teacher Contracts, Charter Schools, and Procedures for Effective Teacher Supervision

Week 1: Collective Bargaining for Public School Teachers Week 1 Assignment: Examine Public School Teacher Contracts (10 Points)

Week 2: Teacher Evaluation and Due Process Procedures for TeacherImprovement or Dismissal

Week 2 Assignment: Discuss Due Process Procedures Involved in Teacher Improvement or Dismissal (10 Points)

Section 2: Scenarios and Administrative Decision-Making

Week 3: The Legal Framework for a Special Education Program

Week 3 Assignment: Develop Guidance on Best Practice Procedures for school Administrators (10 Points)

Week 4: Rights and Restrictions of Student Speech and Expression Week 4 Assignment: Analyze Student Free Expression and Speech Rights (10 Points)

Week 5: School Safety Preparedness

Week 5 Assignment: Design a Plan and Community Presentation on School Safety Preparedness (10 Points)

Week 6: A Busy Week in the Life of a School Principal

Week 6 Assignment: Prepare Your Response – Typical Scenarios in the week of a Busy Principal (10 Points)

Section 3: Important Continuing or Emerging Legal Issues in School Law

Week 7 Assignment: Recommend Revisions to a Board Policy (10 Points)Week 8: White Paper Report to School District Superintendents

Week 8 Signature Assignment: Prepare School District Superintendents for Emerging Issues in School Law (30 points)

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Week 1 – Assignment: Examine Public School Teacher Contracts

Instructions

For this assignment, you will create a matrix to compare and contrast elements in two public school teacher contracts. If possible, choose one contract from a state that allows collective bargaining for teachers and one contract from a state that does not allow collective bargaining for teachers. You will find lists of schools that do and do not allow collective bargaining in the weekly resources. Weekly resources provide links to teacher contract databases or you may use teacher contracts from a school district where you are employed or a school district that is of special interest to you.

Make sure you identify the districts for both of the contracts and the dates on which they were approved. The elements for analysis include:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Tenure (if it is mentioned as part of the contract)
  • Explanation of the elements of due process, including a grievance procedure
  • How effective staff are retained and ineffective ones removed
  • Aspects of professional development that are included
  • Guarantee of common planning time and/or flex time
  • Approaches to teacher evaluation
  • Incentives for teacher motivation to increase student achievement

Conclude this assignment with a two-page summary memo. The memo will be shared with school board members to clarify how their teacher contract compares to another district’s teacher contract.  Include information in the memo about the Janus decision. What does the decision say about the future of collective bargaining rights for public school teachers?

Length: 1-2 page matrix, 2-3 page memo, not including title and reference pages

References: Include a minimum of 5 scholarly resources including teacher contracts.

Your matrix and memo should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts that are presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect graduate-level writing and APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Upload your document and click the Submit to Dropbox button.

Week 2 – Assignment: Discuss Due Process Procedures Involved in Teacher Improvement or Dismissal

For this assignment, compose a paper that explains the steps you would take in the following scenario. The paper must include the basic framework for a teacher improvement plan (TIP). Explain what you will do if the teacher fails to make the necessary improvements.

Scenario:

You are a principal in a public school that employs members of the teacher union. While doing your daily walk-throughs and classroom observations, you observe Teacher Green, a veteran teacher who is set in their ways of instruction and is not conforming to the newly-implemented Language Arts curriculum.

Each time you visit Teacher Green’s class, you observe the teacher utilizing very traditional instructional methods. Students are sitting in rows and doing traditional read aloud as Teacher Green sits at their own desk listening to the students reading, grading papers, or skimming a magazine that is open on the desk.

In several meetings with the teacher, you express your concerns to Teacher Green and offer them an opportunity to visit other teachers and participate in professional development in hopes that it will inspire this veteran teacher to adhere to the approved curriculum and research-based, effective instructional strategies. Teacher Green politely declines your offer; the teacher reminds you that they are a tenured teacher who has been in the classroom for nearly thirty years and has seen principals and programs come and go. Teacher Green states their instructional strategies are effective, and it is today’s students who do not want to learn.

How will you proceed? In your analysis of this scenario, you will need to decide if this teacher is incompetent, insubordinate, or both.

Please keep the following in mind when you are creating your response:

  • One of the important duties of the principal is to guarantee the best possible instructional quality for all students. It is the teacher’s duty to protect the interests of their students with the support of teachers they supervise.
  • Dismissing a teacher is serious because the tenured teacher has an inherent property right to hold their position. Make sure to review the grounds for dismissal (Essex, Chapter 10).
  • Support your steps of action with case law, citations, publications, and journals. You must reference the Loudermill case in your paper. See course resources for a link to the case.
  • Include a teacher improvement plan (TIP) with clearly stated goals, strategies for improvement, collaboration with the professional learning community in the grade level/school, resources needed, and a timeline for completion. Although there is a template in the course resources, you may develop your own format for the TIP or use a template that is available through your school.

Material to support your decision-making could be available at your state’s education website. In addition to the specified resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including older articles, may be included. Remember to support your steps of action with case law, citations, publications, and journals.

Length: 5-7 pages, not including title and reference pages and not including a teacher improvement plan (TIP). The teacher improvement plan (TIP) should be a minimum of 2 pages in length.

References: Include a minimum of 5 scholarly sources.

Your paper should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Upload your document and click the Submit to Dropbox button.

Reference:

Essex, N. (2016). School law and the public schools: A practical guide for educators, (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Week 3 – Assignment: Develop Guidance on Best Practice Procedures for School Administrators

For this assignment, you will assume the role of a school district superintendent who is responsible for onboarding several novice building level leaders, many of whom do not possess experience in working with special needs students and families. Reflect on the process and strategies involved in developing effective relationships with families as well as the legal requirements for writing and implementing IEPs. Working with the special education leaders in your district, create a procedures guide to serve as a foundation for training these new leaders. Make sure to use the elements in an IEP form to guide your planning. Keep in mind the content of the IEP is legally binding.

Design a question and answer (Q&A) brochure to include in a packet of orientation materials for new principals.  Use the following questions to organize the brochure. You are encouraged to add additional questions that could assist new principals.

  • How will you facilitate a cooperative/collaborative relationship with parents that will help meet the needs of the child?
  • Knowing the importance of IEP and student rights, how would you, advocate for the rights of the student?
  • Who will be invited to the IEP meeting? Who will be required to attend?
  • How would you ensure the accommodations in the IEP will benefit the special needs student’s educational needs?
  • What will you do if parents demand accommodation(s) that the district cannot support because it is not research-based best practice or you do not believe the accommodation will benefit the child?
  • What do you do if parents demand a program located outside of the public school setting?
  • What legal recourse could parents take against a district if the IEP is not being followed or if it is not meeting the needs of the child with exceptionalities?

Length: 5-7 pages, not including title and reference pages

References: Include a minimum of 5 scholarly sources.

Your questions and answers should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Upload your document and click the Submit to Dropbox button.

Week 4 – Assignment: Analyze Student Free Expression and Speech Rights

To protest school gun violence, students in XYZ high school used social media to plan a 30-minute school walkout on a specific school day to remember the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School and the Parkland School District shooting tragedies that resulted in deaths of students and teachers. The XYZ school superintendent and high school principal learned of the planned walkout a week before it was to occur. How should they proceed? Begin your paper with an analysis of these two cases: Tinker v. Des Moines and Corales v. Bennett. You may use additional cases to support your decision.

Analyze and discuss how you would respond to this situation with the community and support your decision with case law. If you do decide to support the walkout, some community members may be offended by your decision. However, if you do not support it, could your decision violate the students’ First Amendment rights? Please note that your response should include, but is not limited to the following elements:

  • Justify your reasoning with citations (peer-reviewed journals, articles, or case law).
  • Provide new thoughts and insights directly related to this common topic.
  • Remember with such a situation, your decision may become the focus of media attention.

Length: 5-7 pages, not including title and reference pages

References: Include a minimum of 5 scholarly resources.

Your paper should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Upload your document and click the Submit to Dropbox button.

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Week 5 – Assignment: Design a Plan and Community Presentation on School Safety Preparedness

Prepare a presentation to explain a school safety plan for parents. For this assignment, you will have familiarized yourself with the course resources. Using what you have learned, assume the role of a school administrator who is addressing a community group at a special meeting on school safety preparedness. The purpose of the meeting is to present your plan for school safety.

Create a PowerPoint presentation informing attendees of the key elements of your school’s safety plan. Use the following elements of safety preparedness to develop the presentation:

  • Introduce members of the school safety team and their roles as team members.
  • Explain the significance of the Patriot Act for schools (mention FERPA).
  • Investigate research-based solutions from the National School Safety Center (NSSC).
  • Apply the findings from a school safety audit report to improve safety aspects of school grounds, access to the school building, and general infrastructure.
  • Share preparedness strategies for national emergencies (Homeland Security recommendations).
  • Describe the district’s approach to character education and mental health services, focusing on their importance in promoting safe schools.
  • Articulate how the school’s discipline code deals with altercations in schools, including bullying, cyberbullying, school violence, gangs, weapons possession, and drug and alcohol use.
  • Elaborate on preparedness training for school staff, including school resource officer(s).
  • Explain the due process of law as it relates to student discipline. Discuss the process for student suspensions from school. Clarify the difference between reasonable suspicion and due process of law as it relates to student searches.

Helpful hint: To enhance the presentation, you may wish to select a media article from your state or another state that provides a scenario for you to demonstrate how your plan would make the school safer.

Length: 12-15 slides, not including title and reference slides. Each slide that addresses the bullet points in the directions should have 150-200 words of speaker notes.

Use appropriate animations, transitions, and graphics. Include speaker notes with brief paragraphs and bulleted lists for each slide.

References: Include a minimum of 5 scholarly resources.

Your presentation should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Week 6 – Assignment: Prepare Your Response – Typical Scenarios in the Week of a Busy Principal

Prepare your response to incidents with legal ramifications that come up during a busy week at school. Assume the role of the Principal of the Elm Street Elementary School, a kindergarten to the sixth-grade school located in Prairie Hills, USA. The school community supports this small suburban public school and all the children enter the building every day prepared to learn and have big smiles on their faces. For each of the scenarios listed below, please formulate a response. Your response should include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Use a narrative format to explain the steps you will follow to address each situation.
  • Support your responses with case law and peer-reviewed journal articles where applicable.
  • Remember, your actions must be grounded in best practice and supported by case law in the event your actions become media worthy on a local or national level.

In this assignment, consider yourself as the educational leader who is working to promote a high level of student achievement while protecting individual rights.

You will need to analyze several court decisions and laws to support your decisions in this assignment. At a minimum, include the following court decisions or laws:

  • Lemon v. Kurtzman (Bible reading in class)
  • West Virginia School Board v. Barnette (Flag pledge case)
  • IDEIA (special education classroom placement)
  • Plyler v. Doe (attendance case)
  • The McKinney Vento Act (attendance case)
  • Goss v. Lopez (student discipline case)
MondayDuring your morning classroom instructional rounds, you walk into Teacher Goldstein’s classroom. The children are quietly reading during the daily 20-minute silent reading time. The children are reading their books, while Teacher Goldstein is sitting at their own desk silently reading to set an example for the students. As you whisper hello to Teacher Goldstein, you notice the teacher is reading a religious text.As principal, what are your next steps? Is this an issue? Use the First Amendment to support your decision and follow up in this situation. Make sure you use appropriate case law. (Lemon v. Kurtzman) (Roberts v. Madigan)
TuesdayYou are walking the halls as the students are in their classrooms getting ready for the day. As you are passing Teacher Green’s classroom, you hear over the loudspeaker; “Please stand for the pledge.” As you stop in the hall to pledge to the flag, you witness Teacher Green, as well as a few students, sitting at their desks. This action takes you by surprise, and you speak with Teacher Green during their prep-period about why they are not standing for the pledge.You remind Teacher Green that they are a role model for the students and standing for the pledge is a traditional routine for all teachers. Teacher Green informs you that they refuse to lead the class in the flag salute because it violates their religion. The teacher also adds that if some students do not want to pledge, the teacher is not going to force them. As principal, what are your next steps?Support your follow up through W. VA State Bd of Education v. Barnette.
WednesdayYou receive a phone call from the special education supervisor to inform you a parent is challenging the district’s recommendation for placement of a fourth grade student with Down Syndrome in a segregated special education classroom (a “resource room”).Although the family resides in the capture area of your school, the child would need to be transported to a neighboring school where a classroom is located. This will necessitate a long ride in a special education van to and from school each day for the 11-year-old child.You are familiar with this child because the child has presented many challenges since their enrollment in kindergarten. The child requires a great deal of one-on-one assistance, including many accommodations in the classroom for math and reading, moving about the building for activities and special classes, toileting, and access to the school nurse for medical issues.How will you and the special education supervisor proceed with this case/potential lawsuit? Ground your decision in IDEIA and case law that deals with inclusionary practices.
ThursdayYour secretary listens to a concern voiced by an anonymous phone call. The caller said a non-English speaking family with school-age children appears to be living in a motel in your school zone. The children do not appear to be attending school.You check with the enrollment office. The secretary in the office states they were aware of this situation. The parent appeared at school with three school-age children. The parent was unable to prove they are residents of the school capture area because the parent could not produce documents of any kind to prove residency.The secretary had trouble understanding the parent; but the secretary sent the parent and children away, telling the parent to return with some evidence of residency. This occurred 2 weeks ago.How do you follow up with this? Don’t forget to update enrollment procedures after you solve the immediate problem. Support your response through consideration of the McKinney Vento Act and the Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision.
FridayA sixth-grade teacher disrupted a fight in the hallway between classes. The two regular education students involved admitted to punching and hitting one another before the teacher could break up the altercation. One student’s eyeglasses are broken. The teacher witnessed that one student clearly started the fight and has been known to bully other students in the recent past. The teacher writes a referral and turns the matter over to you.How do you proceed with student discipline in this case? Make sure to discuss due process as it relates to student discipline. Furthermore, you may want to include some form of restorative justice in the follow up to the fight. (Sources of law/policy: Goss v Lopez, Student handbook on disciplinary procedures, School District anti-bullying policy, state law as appropriate)

 Table 1. Principal Scenarios

Write your response in the first person, specifically from the principal’s perspective. Include at least one page of analysis (not including scenario) for each of the five scenarios.

Length: 5-7 pages, not including title and reference pages

References: Include a minimum of 6 resources, including court decisions

Your narrative should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Upload your document and click the Submit to Dropbox button.

Week 7 – Assignment: Recommend Revisions to a Board Policy

Develop a video communication to recommend a new or revised policy. You may choose an issue from a prior assignment in this course.

For this assignment, you will need to review local board policy. Board policies are public information. You will generally find your public school district’s board approved policies on their websites under board information.

In your video presentation, you will assume the role of a school leader making a presentation to your school board. You will create your video presentation by using a video capturing tool located in NCUOne. To access the video capturing tool, follow the tutorial found in your Books and Resources for this Week. Be sure your video includes the following:

  • Begin with an introduction of the issue the policy addition or change will address, explaining the importance or urgency of acting on your recommendation.
  • Identify the policy you are recommending.
  • Explain the historical context of the legal issue in education.
  • Present the pro and con arguments for the policy.
  • Establish a position – defend your position from a legal perspective, discussing cases and concepts that relate to your issue.
  • Provide a rationale for the board to support the new or revised policy.
  • Explain to the board how you will implement the new or revised policy.

Your recommendation must be compliant with federal and state law.

Length: 8- to 10-minute video and a script of the presentation in a separate Word document

References: Include a minimum of 5 legal or scholarly sources in a reference page in the Word document that accompanies the video.

Your presentation should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Upload your document and click the Submit to Dropbox button.

Week 8 – Signature Assignment: Prepare School District Superintendents for Emerging Issues in School Law

For this final assignment, you are encouraged to dig deeper into emerging issues in school law. Assuming the role of the Secretary of Education in your state, consider the following questions:

  • Which of these issues do you see as the most prominent in the coming 10 years?
  • What is the legal framework or source of law that deals with the issue?
  • How do you predict they will impact the court system?

You are the State Secretary of Education for a state you choose to represent. Write a white paper report to school district superintendents in your state predicting the five most important legal issues you expect to encounter in public education in the next 10 years. The goal is to prepare local school leaders for the future so they may develop strategies for compliance before it is too late. The first issue you will include in your paper is the status of school choice, including public charter schools and private school vouchers. The second issue will deal with school safety issues. The remaining three issues are your choices. It is essential to discuss these issues within the context of school law sources.

Length: 12-15 pages, not including title and reference pages or appendices

References: Include a minimum of 10 legal and scholarly sources.

Your white paper should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course and provide new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Upload your document and click the Submit to Dropbox button.