Education Law

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Attorneys at Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. (CMDA) represent school districts, post-secondary educational institutions, and institutions of higher learning. Our extensive knowledge of the culture, customs, and practices of the educational community allows us to offer solutions that not only comply with the law, but also reflect evolving best practices and informed judgments about legal trends. When necessary, our attorneys defend educational clients before regulatory agencies and in both federal and state courts.

Accreditation
Student Affairs
Disability Law
Vocational Education
Employment Matters
Labor Relations, Collective Bargaining Agreements, Grievances, and Arbitration
Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act
Intellectual Property Matters
Real Estate, Land Use, and Facilities Management
Governance of Higher Education
Finance and Taxation
  • Supreme Court Opinion Released: Fry, IDEA, FAPE and Administrative Remedies Christopher McIntire
    A school district refuses to allow the service dog of a student with disabilities into the classroom because the student was assigned a one-on-one instructional aide by the school district, rendering the service dog superfluous. The parents remove their child from the school district and ultimately sue the school district and the school’s principal for ...
  • An Overview for Termination Decision Making Patrick R. Sturdy
    Patrick R. Sturdy is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on education law, intellectual property, business law, and employment and labor law. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or psturdy@cmda-law.com. An Overview for Termination Decision Making The following overview should be considered in making the decision to terminate an employee legally ...
  • Department of Education and Transgender Facilities Elizabeth Rae-O'Donnell
    May 13, 2016 the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to all schools in the country receiving money from the federal government directing that “when a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities ...
  • Case Law Update: LCC-MAHE v LCC Board of Trustees Patrick R. Sturdy
    CASE LAW UPDATE The following Case Law Update summarizes a recent important case.  It is provide to help clients stay up-to-date on recent case law developments in education law. For further information, please contact Patrick Sturdy. Lansing Community College Chapter of Michigan Association for Higher Education v. Lansing Community College Board of Trustees January 21, 2016;  2016 WL ...
  • Case Law Update: Cass v. Michigan State University and Coalition of Labor Organization at MSU Patrick R. Sturdy
    CASE LAW UPDATE The following Case Law Update summarizes a recent important case.  It is provide to help clients stay up-to-date on recent case law developments in education law. For further information, please contact Patrick Sturdy. Cass v. Michigan State University and Coalition of Labor Organization at MSU (February 18, 2016; 2016 WL 683145) This was a breach of ...
  • Case Law Update: Dyshawn Pierre v. University of Dayton Patrick R. Sturdy
    CASE LAW UPDATE Dyshawn Pierre v. University of Dayton (2015 WL 6125303, United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division) October 19, 2015 In this case, the student Plaintiff claimed that his rights under Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were violated. The Plaintiff requested a temporary restraining order to prevent his one semester suspension ...
  • Case Law Update: Stolle v. Kent State University Patrick R. Sturdy
    Stolle v. Kent State University 610 Fed. Appx. 476, United States Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, May 1, 2015 Dr. Ronald Stolle, a non-tenure track faculty instructor in the Department of Finance for Kent State University (KSU) sued the College and several administrators alleging retaliation for exercising his First Amendment Rights. The facts of the case show ...
  • Case Law Update: Silk v. Board of Trustees, Moraine Valley Community College Patrick R. Sturdy
    CASE LAW UPDATE Silk v. Board of Trustees, Moraine Valley Community College 795 F.3d 678 (July 30, 2015) Mr. Silk was an adjunct professor at the College and he began working there in 1986. As an adjunct professor he was non-tenured and an at-will employee. Mr. Silk’s typical teaching load included four courses during the fall and spring ...
  • Case Law Update: Minnis v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College Patrick R. Sturdy
    CASE LAW UPDATE Minnis v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College 2015 WL 3941846 (June 29, 2015) Mr. Minnis, the former coach of the LSU women’s tennis team sued the University claiming Title VII and Title IX discrimination when the University failed to renew his contract in June of 2012. Minnis was ...
  • Michigan Case Law Update: ESPN v Michigan State University Patrick R. Sturdy
    MICHIGAN CASE LAW UPDATE ESPN v. Michigan State University Court of Appeals Docket No. 326773 (August 18, 2015) In September of 2014, ESPN submitted a request under FOIA to the University asking it to provide ESPN with incident reports involving a list of student-athletes over a specified period of time. The University produced two sets of records but ...
  • Michigan Case Law Update: DeMartin v. University of Michigan Regents Patrick R. Sturdy
    MICHIGAN CASE LAW UPDATE DeMartin v. University of Michigan Regents 2015 WL 2412450 (May 19, 2015) This is a governmental immunity case where the issue is whether the public building exception applies to defeat governmental immunity. In this case, the Plaintiff and her daughter were leaving the University of Michigan Dental Clinic through an automatic door operated by ...
  • Michigan Case Law Update: Harris v. Mott Community College Patrick R. Sturdy
    MICHIGAN CASE LAW UPDATE Harris v. Mott Community College 497 Mich 903 (November 25, 2014) On November 25, 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of a case filed by a former nursing student against Mott Community College and Nursing Program Administrators. The former student sued the College after he was dismissed from the Nursing Program due ...
  • Case Law Update: Sterrett v. Heather Cowan and several employees of the University of Michigan Patrick R. Sturdy
    MICHIGAN CASE LAW UPDATE Sterrett v. Heather Cowan and several employees of the University of Michigan, sued in their personal and official capacities 85 F. Supp. 3d.916 (February 4, 2015) This case involves a University of Michigan student (now suspended) who sued several officials employed by the University after he was suspended for violating the University’s Sexual ...
  • College Ratings System Framework and Invitation to Comment Patrick R. Sturdy
    The U.S. Department of Education issued for public comment a college ratings system framework. The proposed system will rely upon broad categories that highlight particular institutional successes and weaknesses employing metrics that might include: percentage of students receiving Pell Grants; average net cost of attendance; and completion rates, among others. The system proposed would group ...
  • Dear Colleague Letter on Competency-Based Education Programs Patrick R. Sturdy
    The Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter providing guidance on competency-based education programs and addressing the differences between direct assessment and credit hour competency-based education, requirements for establishing credit hour equivalencies, and the role of accrediting agencies, among other issues.
  • Draft Discussion Guide on Measuring College Outcomes Patrick R. Sturdy
    The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has issued a draft discussion guide on measuring college outcomes. The guide focuses on a strategic framework designed to enable colleges and universities, policymakers, and the public to discuss and ...
  • White House Proposal to Make Community College Free for Responsible Students Patrick R. Sturdy
    President Barack Obama announced a proposal that would allow students enrolled in community college to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree or the technical skills needed in the workforce at no cost. To be eligible, a student must attend community college at least half-time, maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, and make steady ...
  • Updated Guidance on Making Direct Loan Refunds of Cash Patrick R. Sturdy
    The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance for institutions regarding Direct Loan refunds. Included in the guidance is a reminder that, as of January 1, 2015, the Department no longer accepts paper checks for Direct Loan refunds of cash. To make the most timely and accurate refunds, the guidance generally recommends using the G5 ...
  • Third Party Servicer Data Form – Reporting Requirement Patrick R. Sturdy
    The U.S. Department of Education announced it will collect information directly from third party servicers that perform work on behalf of Title IV eligible institutions since the Department determined that “a significant number of higher education institutions failed to report, update, and/or incorrectly report third party servicer information” as required. Entities that meet the definition ...
  • Senate Task Force Report on Federal Regulation of Higher Education Patrick R. Sturdy
    The Senate Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education recently released a report entitled “Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities” in which the Task Force stated that “oversight of higher education by the Department of Education has expanded and evolved in ways that undermine the ability of colleges and universities to serve students and ...
  • Title IX: Resolution Agreement between Princeton University and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Patrick R. Sturdy
    The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Princeton University to ensure compliance with Title IX. The action follows an OCR investigation that found that Princeton was in violation of Title IX for failing to promptly and equitably respond to complaints of sexual ...
  • International Programs: Dear Colleague Letter on Ineligible Courses at Foreign Institutions Patrick R. Sturdy
    The Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter on the implications of laws and regulations that limit the courses that may be offered by a foreign institution as part of an eligible program for students receiving Direct Loan funds. The letter emphasizes that offering ineligible courses makes the program ineligible for Title IV funds, but ...
  • Dear Colleague Letter Issued Regarding Third-Party Servicer Institutional Requirements and Responsibilities Patrick R. Sturdy
    On January 9, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter providing guidance to institutions that contract with third-party servicers to administer any aspect of the institution’s participation in Title IV student services programs. Title IV of the Higher Education Act and related regulations require these institutions to report the names of ...
  • Education and Title IX Patrick R. Sturdy
    Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the U.S. Department of Education implemented regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender in federally assisted education programs and activities. Title IX protects students in connection with all of the academic, educational, extra-curricular, athletic, and other programs of a college, whether they ...
  • How College Disability Services Differ from K-12 Special Education Services Elizabeth Rae-O'Donnell
    Students with disabilities are entitled to accommodations in school, whether it is K-12 (public) or post-secondary education. The nature and delivery of those services, however, differ greatly between K-12 and college. Laws That Impact All Students: IDEA The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law governing special education service delivery for students aged 3-21 or ...
  • Service Dogs Expected to take on Expanded Role in Public Places Ryan D. Miller
    Recently, a Southern California school district settled a case brought in the Federal District Court where a minor plaintiff sought to enjoin the school district from denying his service dog access to the classroom.  The minor plaintiff was not visually or otherwise impaired, but diagnosed with a form of autism.  The school district objected to having the ...
  • Supreme Court Raises Bar to Prove Discriminatory Retaliation Cases Elizabeth Rae-O'Donnell
    In a 5- 4 decision announced June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court made it more difficult for workers to prove they have been retaliated against on the job. In the decision of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v Nassar, the Court clarified the standard for plaintiffs who claim they have faced negative ...
  • Use of Trademark Protected by First Amendment Patrick R. Sturdy
    A Federal Appeals Court ruled that an artist’s use of the University of Alabama’s trademark within his paintings was protected by the U.S. Constitution First Amendment Free Speech Clause. In litigation that cost the University of Alabama an estimated $1.4 million in legal fees, the University claimed the artist’s depictions of Alabama Crimson Tide football team ...
  • Preventing Molestation in Schools Sarah L. Overton
    A high school secretary is charged with statutory rape of a student. Another teacher is found with a student in his motel room. A middle school teacher is convicted of molesting three students. What is happening in our schools? How can school districts protect students, as well as prevent false claims and civil lawsuits? In California, ...
  • Anticipate Legal Issues on Campus Patrick R. Sturdy
    By taking proactive steps to anticipate legal issues on campus, college administrators can manage risk in the area of student affairs.  Anticipating legal issues can be done in a couple ways. Firstly, many colleges belong to associations that provide updates regarding the status of pending legislation.  Typically these updates are provided to the college’s liaison to ...
  • Michigan’s Child Protection Law Patrick R. Sturdy
    Michigan’s Child Protection Law requires certain individuals, called mandated reporters, to report child abuse and neglect.   Mandated reporters are professionals who, in the ordinary course of their work and because they have regular contact with children, are required to report when abuse has been observed or suspected or when there has been evidence of neglect.  ...
  • Intellectual Property in the Academic Setting Patrick R. Sturdy
    Universities and colleges, although institutions of higher learning, must be prepared to navigate the complicated world of intellectual property, including dealing with their own trademark. A trademark is a name or symbol which identifies a product, service or institution to the general public. Trademarks, while intangible, are considered property, and the rights associated with trademarks ...
  • Steps Community College Employees Should Take to Avoid Being Held Individually Liable Patrick R. Sturdy
    Community college employees may be entitled to immunity from liability in the event their actions result in injury to an employee or student. However, immunity does not apply in all circumstances. Community college employees, as public employees, may be held individually liable in some circumstances where private sector employees are not. Accordingly, it is important that employees take ...