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K-12 School Law on Fire


U.S. school districts are increasingly seeing the need to hire in-house counsel. At the same time, a growing number of law firms are launching school law practices. In addition, there has been a steady increase in the number of “boutique” firms that specialize in school law.

School boards and districts deal with legal issues daily. A school law practitioner helps districts follow the escalating web of state and federal regulations affecting schools and avoid litigation. When necessary, s/he represents the school board/district before courts and administrative agencies.

Attorneys practicing school law advise school boards and administrators on the broad range of issues that any corporate counsel must handle, as well as constitutional and education issues unique to school districts, such as:

  • Classroom and Library Materials
  • Common Core Standards
  • Disabled Student Participation in Sports
  • Educator Sexual Misconduct
  • Equity and Discrimination
  • Individualized Education Plans for Disabled Studentshttps://edreform.com
  • Internet Safety Policies
  • Liability for Sports-Related Injuries
  • Federal Every Student Succeeds Act Requirements
  • School Board Ethics
  • School Violence
  • School Vouchers
  • Separation of Church and State
  • Special Education
  • Student-Athlete Codes of Conduct
  • Student-Athlete Drug Testing
  • Student Dress Codes
  • Student Free Speech
  • Student Privacy
  • Teacher and Student Classroom Speech
  • Textbook and Instruction Controversies
  • Title IX
  • Vouchers

The Numbers

Statistics underscore why school law is a major opportunity. The following come from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Center for Education Reform:

  • 55 million K-12 students (50 million in public schools)
  • 14,000+ public school districts
  • 100,000 public schools
  • 6,400 public charter schools
  • 31,000 private schools
  • 6,800 Catholic schools
  • $500 billion combined federal, state, and local government spending on K-12
  • 3.1 million public school teachers

In summary, K-12 education is a very big business, getting bigger all the time, and becoming more complex.

Typical Positions

School districts hire attorneys for both mainstream practice (general counsel; staff attorney) and JD Advantage positions, such as:

  • Associate to the Superintendent
  • Labor Relations Specialist
  • Director of Employee Relations
  • Education Policy Analyst
  • Educational Program Specialist (Special Education)
  • Education Specialist (School Boards)
  • K-12 School Compliance Officer

Note. You won’t find all of these positions in every school district. Moreover, job titles tend to vary from one district to another.

Law firms, in addition to partners and associates practicing school law, may also employ Child Advocates and Special Education Advocates.

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