Articles

12.08.2017
Article

York County Sheriff's Sale Update

The York County Sheriff’s Office has initiated a change in the way municipal items are being handled with respect to a Sheriff’s Sale. The new procedure started with a sale that was held in July. In the past, the Sheriff’s Office collected information from municipalities and tax collectors prior to a sale for all items due. Amounts owed were put on the bid sheet that the Sheriff’s Office forwarded to counsel for the plaintiffs. The Sheriff’s Office will no longer be collecting this information before sales. They will only contact municipalities and tax collectors for the properties that are sold to third parties. If a property is sold to a bank or mortgage company for costs, they will not contact the municipalities and tax collectors. It is now the responsibility of the bank or mortgage company to pay the municipalities and tax collectors directly.

12.08.2017
Article

Formation of a Stormwater Authority

On July 9, 2013, Governor Tom Corbett signed into law Act 68, which amended the Pennsylvania Municipalities Authorities Act (the “Act”) to allow local governments in Pennsylvania to form stormwater authorities. Specifically, Act 68 amended 53 P.S. § 5607, adding “stormwater management planning and projects” as purpose and power for which a municipal authority may be incorporated. 

12.07.2017
Article

Hearing Officer's Decision Granting Transportation for Gifted Student is Overturned by Commonwealth Court

On November 8, in the case of Mt. Lebanon School District v. J.S., the Commonwealth Court reversed a hearing officer's decision that would have required a school district that does not provide bus transportation to students to transport a gifted student from his middle school to a high school to attend a geometry class.

09.29.2017
Article

Commonwealth Court Concludes that Arbitrator’s Award Reinstating Teacher Dismissed for Sexual Harassment Violated a “Public Policy”

In Neshaminy School District (“district”) v. Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (“union”), a case that involved a teacher dismissed for sexual harassment of a co-teacher, the Commonwealth Court affirmed a lower court decision that vacated an arbitrator’s reinstatement of the teacher.

05.11.2017
Article

Commonwealth Court Concludes a Pencil is Not a "Weapon" in Student Expulsion Case

In the case of S.A. v. Pittsburgh Public School District, the Commonwealth Court recently held that a pencil is not a "weapon" for the purpose of enforcing the district's student code of conduct.

03.01.2017
Article

The Importance of Developing Job Descriptions & Employee Handbooks

For municipal officials who may never have been required to think about, much less participate in, traditional human resources tasks such as recruiting and hiring staff, developing and implementing employee policies, and receiving and processing employee complaints, engaging in those tasks may be daunting and unpleasant.

03.01.2017
Article

Tax Relief for Volunteer Fire Fighters & Emergency Medical Service Agencies

Pennsylvania volunteer fire fighters and emergency service professionals received a Christmas gift from our legislature when Act 172 of 2016 was adopted last year. Act 172 authorizes municipalities to adopt an ordinance providing tax relief in the form of a tax credit for volunteer fire fighters and emergency service professionals residing within the municipality.

03.01.2017
Article

Avoiding the Pitfalls of the Public Employee Relations Act (PERA)

Because municipal employees have rights as public employees in the workplace that do not apply in the private sector, it is very important for municipalities to be aware of the issues that arise when employees engage in union activity. While an employer might be inclined to react to unrest in the employee ranks in an assertive or even an aggressive manner, the employer should be informed about relevant legal issues involved in dealing with labor organization matters. In Pennsylvania, there are legal protections for public employees who engage in union organizing and other activities under the Public Employee Relations Act (PERA). 43 Pa.C.S.A. §1101.101 et seq.

03.01.2017
Article

Bid Threshold Limit Increased

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry reviewed the Consumer Price Index-Urban and announced an increase of 1.5% for 2016. Therefore, on January 1, 2017, the bid thresholds were increased for all contracts and purchases by boroughs, townships, municipal authorities and school districts.

03.01.2017
Article

Municipal Leasing

Traditionally, municipalities fund capital projects and essential equipment expenses by using tax revenues, cash reserves built over time or indebtedness through the issuance of such items as municipal bonds and bank financing. There is, however, another underutilized method of financing capital acquisitions, namely municipal leasing. Municipal leasing can provide advantages over more traditional methods of financing, including lower expenses.

02.24.2017
Article

The Case of “Wonder” the Service Dog & OCR Withdraws Previous Guidance on Transgender Students

Due to the importance of the Office of Civil Rights' (OCR) recent withdrawal of guidance regarding transgender students and a significant Supreme Court decision regarding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) administrative procedures, this edition of School Law Snapshot covers both topics.

01.30.2017
Article

Let’s Make a Deal! Cautionary Notes for Public School Vendor Contracts

During the 1970’s, a television game show called Let’s Make a Deal entertained viewers by playing on the unknown. The host would present an audience member with a choice framed in the following manner. “I have a $50 bill that I can give you right at this moment or...you can have what is behind Door #3.” Viewers were entertained by the possibility that the prize behind Door #3 could be a new sports car or a goat. While the unknown outcome of a choice made on daytime television was campy entertainment, unknown outcomes for public school entities subject to vendor service contracts are no laughing matter.

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