PSBA Legal Services offers an experienced team of experts in school law focused on influencing developments in school law and helping school directors, educators and their local counsel understand the law, comply with it and stay abreast of developments.
- Judicial advocacy provides the school board perspective to the courts in important cases affecting public education
- Training and consultation for local school solicitors helps ensure that school boards and educators receive high quality advice and representation
- Legal information for school officials via training, publications and free telephone access educates school leaders about the key legal concepts, obligations and danger areas they must be aware of to carry out their duties and avoid liability
- Closely monitoring developments in the courts and legislation gets the word on breaking legal news out to attorneys and educators in the field
Continuing Legal Education
PSBA offers a range of school law training programs — from expert-level, accredited continuing legal education programs geared to solicitors, to programs for non-attorney school directors and administrators.
An essential component of PSBA’s purpose is advocating the interests of public education in helping to shape law and education policy in front of the legislature, administrative agencies and the courts.
Special Counsel Legal Services
Although PSBA staff attorneys do not seek or accept appointment as a school district’s solicitor, they may be retained as special counsel (on an hourly fee basis) to assist member school districts in a variety of situations, normally on the recommendation of the solicitor. •School board hearings – In local agency hearings before school boards in matters such as employee discipline, demotions, furloughs and student expulsion hearings, constitutional due process requirements can require that the prosecution role be handled by an attorney who is separate and independent from the attorney serving as hearing officer or advisor to the school board. PSBA attorneys are available as outside counsel for either of these roles as needed or desired and at any stage, from early investigation and preparation up through preparation of adjudications and defense of court appeals.
- Administrative agency proceedings – Assistance and/or representation in matters pending before agencies such as the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, Human Relations Commission and Department of Education, involving discrimination complaints, professional licensure issues, unfair labor practice complaints, etc.
- Arbitration proceedings – Assistance in analyzing grievance issues, developing presentations and representing the district before labor arbitrators.
- Litigation assistance – Assistance in representing the district in both trial courts and appellate courts in Local Agency Law and Right-to-Know Law appeals, Sunshine Act challenges and other kinds of court cases.
- Research and legal opinions – PSBA staff can provide research assistance on local legal issues and questions requiring preparation of research memoranda or legal opinions. PSBA staff attorneys can provide expertise, subject matter resources and time not always available at the local level
- Contingency coverage – Temporary on-call attorney coverage for board meetings and other matters can be provided when the regular solicitor is unavailable due to vacation, illness or other emergencies, and where other local backup arrangements are not preferred or feasible.
- Investigations – Complete, discreet and sensitive investigation and evaluation of discrimination, sexual harassment, conflict of interest, or other complaints and issues.
- Customized training – Specially designed seminars and in-service training on proper procedures and liability avoidance strategies in areas such as student discipline, personnel actions, anti-drug programs, weapons and school security, sexual harassment prevention and complaint handling, premises safety, equal opportunity, ADA and similar law-related topics.
- Real or perceived conflict situations – Despite best efforts, actual or potential conflict situations can arise unavoidably in the course of legal practice. Ethical rules requiring attorneys to steer clear of even the appearance of impropriety can preclude regular counsel from handling a particular matter. Or, the solicitor may recognize that using outside counsel in a particularly sensitive matter will help avoid permanently damaging working relationships. When these situations arise, PSBA legal services may be the solution.
For further information about available assistance or fees, Stuart L. Knade, Esq., PSBA general counsel, (717) 506-2450, x-3377.