Education Law

Webster Szanyi provides general counsel to school districts on a day-to-day basis with respect to a variety of matters.  We have extensive experience counseling districts on issues ranging from labor relations issues to student and staff misconduct to the reformation and implementation of internal policies and procedures.  We frequently provide guidance and opinions on the Family and Medical Leave Act, Dignity for All Students Act, Freedom of Information Law, Open Meetings Law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, residency and homeless issues, First Amendment issues, the annual meeting and election, and issues related to teacher certification, tenure and the Civil Service Law, to name a few.

We provide the full range of services in contract negotiations for all bargaining units (i.e., teachers, non-instructional personnel, etc.). We have served as chief negotiator on behalf of school districts, and can also provide secondary assistance with the development of strategy and preparation of proposals related to collective bargaining.  Our attorneys handle employee grievance proceedings from beginning to end, including arbitrations.

We regularly issue advice with regard to tenured and probationary employees, as well as the discipline of classified and certified employees, includingappropriate forms of discipline, ranging from the placement of written warnings in an employee’s personnel file to commencing 3020-a proceedings.  Our attorneys are experienced in handling matters with potential criminal implications, and in working with local police and independent investigators to achieve a satisfactory result for the district.   We provide counsel regarding student due process rights in disciplinary matters and regularly serve as Hearing Officer in Superintendent’s Hearings.  We pride ourselves on rendering prompt and effective counsel, even in situations requiring an immediate response.

Our attorneys are well-accustomed to attending and presenting at Board of Education meetings, in both public and executive session, depending on the issue(s) at hand.  We are frequently asked to provide opinions regarding the powers and duties of the Board of Education, as well as the rules and procedures that govern the Board.  We work with the Board or a committee thereof and the Administration to develop internal policies and procedures that not only comply with the law but also work best, in a practical sense, for your district.

We frequently provide in-service training to school districts on numerous issues, including but not limited to bullying, sexual harassment, athletic liability, and risk management issues.  We have made presentations to a variety of audiences, including students, staff, Administration, and the Board of Education.  We collaborate with our school district clients to provide in-service trainings that are tailored to the needs or requests of each individual school district.

In addition, our attorneys have extensive experience representing school districts in litigation in both state and federal courts, as well as before the Equal Opportunity Commission, Division of Human Rights, and Public Employment Relations Board.  This experience provides us with a unique perspective on issues that arise on a day-to-day basis, and allows us to readily identify potential subjects of litigation and help school districts defend against such claims, and often avoid litigation altogether.

For further information, contact:

Susan M. McClaren (smcclaren@websterszanyi.com)
Ryan G. Smith (rsmith@websterszanyi.com)