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Education Law

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For over 50 years education law has been a vital part of the law practice at Wadleigh, Starr & Peters, P.L.L.C.

The School Law team is a full service solution for school districts and school administrative units. We represent school districts and school administrative units throughout the State in all areas of school law, including general matters, student discipline, special education, civil rights, bullying, labor relations, personnel matters, the right-to-know law, school finance, tuition agreements, contracts, bonding issues, and district/school administrative unit reorganization. When a client matter crosses disciplines, the team has the ability to draw upon a wide range of attorney resources in the area of commercial transactions, real estate conveyances, land-use, or any other practice area of the firm. In addition, the school attorneys are active in the support of education on a national, regional and state-wide basis, primarily through professional development lectures, seminars, and the support of various legislative initiatives.

Our School Law attorneys are admitted to practice in the State of New Hampshire, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, the United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court, and they have successfully represented clients before all of these courts. Although equipped to litigate, the School Law attorneys seek to assist clients in reducing risk by favorably resolving problems at the earliest possible stage. We understand that School Districts work for the families, taxpayers, and students of the district, and we treat both our clients and our adversaries with dignity and respect.

Our attorneys have experience advising school districts on all aspects of education law, including but not limited to: after school programs, AREA Agreements, attendance, board hearings, bullying, child abuse and neglect reporting requirements, charter school issues, contract negotiation/review, cyberbullying, disability rights, district of liability determinations, discrimination claims, educational Standards, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), field trip access, First and Fourth Amendment issues, home school issues, Immigration issues, investigations, Joint Maintenance Agreements, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act, No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) compliance, policy development and interpretation, religious freedom issues, residency issues, including district of liability issues, policy development, Right-to-know law matters, safe schools reporting act, school budgets/finance, school choice, school nursing standards; Section 504, sexual harassment, student discipline, student privacy, tuition agreements, Title IX, transgender issues, and transportation.

General Litigation

Our attorneys have litigated numerous precedent-setting cases, including two declaratory judgment actions involving the City of Manchester and the Manchester School District.  In addition, the Firm successfully defended the Manchester School District in the case of Foote v. Manchester School District, 152 NH 599 2005.  As a result of this decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the long-term tuition agreement between the Bedford School District and the Manchester School District.

The Firm has successfully defended school districts in a number of litigated matters including, but not limited to: First Amendment challenges, Equal Access challenges, claims that the District had an obligation to provide special education services to parochial students and challenges involving cable access.

Employment Law and Labor Relations

The Firm’s School Law attorneys represent school districts on all aspects of employment law, including providing advice and counsel on federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.  We assist our school district clients in avoiding liability through the development of effective policies and procedures.  When necessary, we assist our clients with nonrenewal and termination hearings.

In addition, our attorneys represent school districts in all aspects of collective bargaining with unionized staff.  We also have experience before the Public Employee Labor Relations Board and in handling arbitration matters.

Special Education and Administrative Law Matters

Each year, the Firm handles numerous matters involving students with educational disabilities.  In many of those cases, parents are seeking costly out-of-district private school placements at district expense.  Over the years, we have successfully litigated or mediated the vast majority of these cases to the benefit of the school district.  For example, when a parent seeks an out-of-district placement, the cost of the placement may be in excess of $100,000.00 per year.  When the Firm prevails on behalf of the district, those costs result in a direct multiple year savings to the District.  We have prevailed in cases where we saved the district in excess of $500,000.00 over the educational life of the child.

Our School Law attorneys have appeared on behalf of school districts before the New Hampshire Department of Education, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

We have handled numerous matters before the New Hampshire Department of Education involving issues including reimbursement for unilateral placements; eligibility for services; evaluations; reimbursement for independent evaluations; extended School Year programming; provision of services to students in state-created charter schools; district of liability issues; bullying appeals, manifest educational hardship issues; district of liability for homeless students; residency issues; placement in the least restrictive environment; discipline; transition services; placement in alternate school settings; and, assistive technology issues.

Our school law attorneys have successfully resolved many administrative proceedings, either through mediation or resolution sessions, saving districts the time and money associated with due process hearings.

In addition, our School Law attorneys have assisted school districts with the successful resolution of complaints that have been filed with the Department of Education and the Office for Civil Rights.