While our offices are located at the very heart of Columbia – just across from the State House – on any day our attorneys will be found serving school districts in communities large and small all across South Carolina.
The legal assistance and advice we provide to schools pertain to, but are not limited to, the following practice areas:
- Advice and assistance to boards in conducting, handling and publicly reporting the results of superintendent evaluations.
- Assistance to boards and superintendents navigating difficult internal issues.
- Training boards and superintendents on effective communication and roles, as well as compliance with laws and policies.
- Termination and non-renewal hearings before the board, pursuant to the South Carolina Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act.
- Compliance with state laws affecting teachers and administrators, including the ADEPT (teacher) and PADEPP (administrator) evaluation systems.
- Assistance with recruiting and retaining quality teachers, including international teachers.
- Grievances and responses to employment discrimination charges filed with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SHAC), the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the United States Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
- Federal laws and regulations, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and all civil rights laws.
- Compliance with legal requirements related to the evaluation, education, and discipline of students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, including due process hearings, federal court appeals, administrative and Office for Civil Rights complaints, day-to-day matters, and policies and procedures.
- Responses to due process complaints filed with the South Carolina Department of Education.
- Individualized Education Program (IEP) and manifestation determination meetings.
- Help with drafting and implementing Individual Health Plans (IHP).
- Difficult custody and DSS matters, residency and enrollment issues, attendance issues, medical issues, bullying/harassment, transgender students, and searches and seizures.
- Law enforcement issues, including establishing the duties of school resource officers and mandatory reporting.
- Grievances and responses to charges filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
- Compliance with legal requirements related to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), McKinney-Vento Act, and Title IX.
- S.C. High School League eligibility and related matters.
Student Disciplinary Hearings and Appeals
- Advice and assistance concerning all aspects of student discipline matters, including investigating allegations and conducting hearings, and assisting with appeals to boards.
- Assistance in handling discipline hearings at the administrative level, the board level, and in appeals to the court system.
- Assistance in drafting and reviewing board policies and administrative regulations, which have legal implications.
Staff Development and In-services on Legal Issues
- Conducting training and in-service sessions for administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, school nurses, and other groups on legal updates, legal compliance, and best practices.
Finance and Taxation
- Advice concerning school finance and local taxation, including the requirements of the South Carolina Education Finance Act, property tax exemptions, reimbursements and millage limitations, and annual appropriation provisos.
- Financial matters and district relationships with county councils, county auditors and treasurers, county legislative delegations, the State Department of Education, the South Carolina Retirement System, the Department of Commerce, and other government entities.
- Issues regarding tax increment financing (TIF) by counties and cities, fees in lieu of taxes, multi-county industrial or business parks, and military base redevelopment.
- Advice and assistance to school districts under desegregation orders, including providing assistance for obtaining unitary status.
- Election laws affecting school boards and districts, including bond referenda.
- Timing of special elections when board vacancies arise.
Independent Schools and Higher Education
- Provide training and in-service sessions for administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, school nurses, and other groups on legal updates, statutory compliance, and relevant topics.
- Special projects and accreditation issues.
- Matters regarding student and employee handbooks, employment agreements and student enrollment contracts, as well as board policies.
- Advising administrators regarding the many employment and student matters that arise on a daily basis, including attendance, medical issues, athletic eligibility, and special educational needs.