20th Annual School Law Seminar

BOARDMAN CLARK is pleased to announce a program designed specifically for the benefit of school district administrative personnel and board members.

This year's complimentary program will include sessions that touch on the latest court, legislative, and regulatory developments affecting school districts. While we previously thought we would be back in-person for this year's event, we are exercising an abundance of caution and moving this year's program to a virtual webinar. Please register at the link provided and hop online to join us November 18!

You may register as many individuals as are interested at boardmanclark.com/school-law-21. Each webinar will be recorded and will be shared with any registered attendees after the seminar's completion.


Boardman Clark attorneys will present on eight topics in a dual webinar track format, followed by a Boardman Clark Attorney Q&A panel. The schedule for the day will be as follows:

8:45 - 9:00 AM

Welcome and morning introduction by Doug Witte, the Boardman Clark School Law Practice Group Chair.

9:00 - 10:00 AM

Understanding and Applying the Law Regarding Student Speech


Student speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution continues to create challenging situations for school districts, especially after the recent U.S. Supreme Court case concerning off-campus speech by a student. This session will use a series of hypothetical scenarios to help attendees understand the applicable legal principles and how to apply them in specific situations. Attendees will learn:

  • The limitations districts face when students are speaking off-campus and outside of district-sponsored activities.
  • The intersection between student free speech rights and harassment/bullying policies.
  • To navigate student speech involving controversial subjects such as discussions of politics, race, and COVID-19.

Tax and Employee Benefits Update


With the prospect of increased IRS enforcement, it is important that school districts know the fundamental tax requirements related to the benefits provided to employees. Attendees will learn:

  • The basics of 403(b) compliance, including the requirement of universal availability.
  • The requirements and tax impact of tuition reimbursement and assistance programs.
  • The rules surrounding Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs).

10:10 - 11:10 AM

Refocusing on the Student: A Review of New Critical Compliance Issues under State and Federal Law


Education has always been about the students. The current educational environment, however, caused in part by the pandemic and escalating political divide has required districts to shift focus to an array of new student-centered issues. For example, to meet their obligations under IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA, districts must consider the effect of mask mandates on FAPE, how to measure and deliver recovery services, and the effects of long COVID on learning and mental health. In addition, to meet their obligations under civil rights laws, districts must develop and implement policies and procedures which ensure equity for all students regardless of their gender identity, race, or disability. While the burdens are many, the path to compliance is not always clearly paved. Join Tess O’Brien-Heinzen as she addresses the most pressing student-centered issues faced by school districts today. In this session, attendees will learn:

  • How FAPE may be affected by COVID mitigation measures.
  • What factors drive the need for recovery services under IDEA and the how/where to provide them.
  • When and how to address long COVID under IDEA and Section 504.
  • How to navigate the most challenging issues under federal civil rights laws including those related to gender identity and controversial topics in the classroom.

Attendees will take home useful checklists and templates for addressing these challenging issues.

Current Legal and Practical Board Governance Issues


Effective boards are generally marked by a commitment to a governance model that creates a positive relationship between board members, the administration/superintendent, staff, and the public. Creating this type of positive governance culture has become more difficult in the current polarized climate facing school districts. In this session, we will review the legal and practical issues related to:

  • Board members who do not comply with the group norm.
  • Public comment and disruptions at board meetings.
  • The impact of social media.
  • When the superintendent and board relationship breaks down.

11:20 - 12:20 AM

COVID-19 Mitigation Measures: Addressing Implementation and Accommodations


COVID-19 continues to be a significant factor in the day-to-day operations of schools. Districts are being required to make difficult decisions regarding whether to impose vaccine mandates, require masks, and what other mitigation measures are necessary to keep staff and students healthy and safe. When those determinations are made, districts may also struggle to address requests for accommodations to any mitigation measure that is adopted. This session will address both student and employee concerns and review the most current legal decisions and guidance regarding mitigation measures and requests for accommodations to those measures. Attendees will learn:

  • A process to address student and employee requests for accommodations to mitigating measures.
  • How to address the individualized needs of students with health conditions.
  • Recent guidance regarding staff and student testing for COVID-19.

Student Expulsions and Abeyance Agreements


The old adage, "kids will be kids," is hard to accept especially when students engage in inappropriate, harmful, and dangerous behaviors. Social media has only exacerbated the situation. Today, districts are often required to balance competing rights of students to an education and a safe and healthy learning environment. In some situations, the right to a safe and healthy learning environment tips the scale and necessitates expulsion. Join Doug Witte as he walks attendees through those considerations and touches on options available to even the scales including abeyance agreements and conditions for early reinstatement. Attendees will learn:

  • The procedural requirements for expulsions and abeyance agreements.
  • How to draft an abeyance agreement with provisions for different circumstances.
  • How to prepare for and conduct an expulsion hearing.
  • How to draft an expulsion order with conditions for reinstatement.

12:20 - 1:00 PM - BREAK FOR LUNCH

1:00 - 2:00 PM

Important School Law Principles Unaffected by COVID, and the Consequences for Failing to Comply


While COVID-19 has required significant attention of District administration and staff, Districts should not lose sight of many other important laws and legal principles which are directly applicable to District governance and administration, are non-waivable, and have significant consequences for non-compliance. Join Mike Julka as he reviews a number of those topics, including:

  • Conflicts of Interest, Ethics, and Incompatibility
  • Certification/Licensure of Staff
  • Re-hiring WRS Retiree/Annuitants
  • Budget Transfers
  • Mandatory Reporting to DPI Regarding Licensure
  • Breadth of Applicability of the Open Meetings Law
  • Employee Right to Representation During Investigations of Misconduct
  • Renewals/Extensions/Non-renewals/of Employment Contracts

Addressing Requests for Records under the Public Records Law


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts were often presented with challenges concerning responding to requests for records under the Wisconsin Public Records Law. During the pandemic, many districts have been receiving numerous requests for records related to decisions made in light of the pandemic. In addition, citizens have raised concerns about other issues within the schools, including issues related to the school's curriculum, which have also resulted in requests for records on these issues. This presentation will focus on addressing the legal and political aspects for administrators to consider when responding to these and other requests for records. Attendees will learn:

  • Identifying distinctions between requests for information and requests for records.
  • Understanding that not all records are subject to disclosure under the law.
  • Distinguishing between requests for public records, employee records, and student records.

2:10 - 3:10 PM

Boardman Clark Attorney Q&A Panel

Our School Law Group Attorneys will answer any questions you did not get a chance to ask during the day's sessions, and questions related to topics we did not cover.

Again, your school district may register as many individuals as are interested, including administrators, board members, principals, business managers, pupil services directors, and other school officials. Accordingly, please pass this notice on to others.

If you have any questions in the meantime, or if you have suggestions for future topics to be presented, please call or e-mail Nadia Riese at 608-286-7212 or nriese@boardmanclark.com.