CGA School Law Snapshot: 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 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.


CGA School Law Snapshot: School Code Amendments Create Truancy Reform for Pennsylvania Schools

For a number of years, there was a perceived need to reform the provisions of the School Code related to truancy enforcement. In response to that need, Act 138 of 2016 was enacted to address concerns related to reducing excessive school absenteeism.


Labor & Employment Alert: New Overtime Regulations Blocked - Temporary Injunction Granted

Late yesterday we learned that a federal court judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks implementation and enforcement of the Department of Labor's (DOL) revised overtime regulations, which more than doubled the salary threshold for white collar exemptions and were set to take effect December 1, 2016.


Labor & Employment Alert: Election Impact on FLSA Overtime Regulation Changes

We have been getting a number of calls from clients asking what impact last week’s election results will have on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime regulations scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016 – and more importantly, whether employers can now take a “wait and see” approach to the regulations and assume that the new Republican administration and Congress will act to overturn and stop the regulations from taking effect.


CGA School Law Snapshot: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Recognizes Protected Privacy Interest in the Home Addresses of Public Employees

On October 18, 2016, in a case involving a request for the home addresses of public school employees under the Right-to-Know Law, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that Article 1, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees the right to informational privacy and that interest may not be violated unless it is outweighed by the public's interest in disclosure. It also notes that certain types of information including home addresses by their very nature implicate privacy concerns that require the courts to balance individual privacy interests and the public's interest in disclosure. The privacy interests of public school employees in protecting their home addresses from disclosure outweighs the public's interest in acquiring access to that information under the Right-to-Know Law.
The Supreme Court also reasoned that public employees should be afforded the opportunity to object to the disclosure of private information. However, the Court also concluded the issue was moot in the case before it.


CGA School Law Snapshot: Hello. This is a message from... FCC Issues Ruling on School "Robocalls"

Unless you happen to fall within the shrinking minority of Americans who do not use a cellphone, you have probably received a telemarketing robocall that promises a Florida vacation or an opportunity to pursue a new career that will make you rich within six months. While such calls have become a common nuisance in our everyday lives, the use of automated calls or "robocalls" by school entities has become a common, convenient way for schools to send out announcements regarding matters that range from routine notifications about school events to updates about school emergencies. Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Declaratory Ruling that provides important guidelines for schools related to a school's use of robocalls and automated texts under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).


CGA School Law Snapshot: Is Your School Website Accessible? Looking Beyond Pretty Lights & Colors

As someone who frequently relies on my wife for technical assistance with my personal laptop, tablet and smartphone, I can be easily distracted by the pretty lights and colors associated with most websites. While visual aesthetics might be a consideration for the design of school district websites, compliance with accessibility requirements under federal law should be a high priority in the design and maintenance of such sites.


CGA School Law Snapshot: Catching Fireflies & Understanding School Code Amendments on Student Diabetes Care

For some, Summer evokes memories of camping, swimming, catching fireflies and other childhood endeavors. For many involved in public education in Pennsylvania, it also means attempting to understand the latest amendments to the Pennsylvania School Code to prepare for the upcoming school year. Some of the more recent changes to the School Code include statutory changes that will affect the way school districts manage the treatment and care of students with diabetes.


CGA School Law Snapshot: Commonwealth Court Throws "Illegal Procedure Flags" in Teacher Termination Cases

In two recent decisions, the Commonwealth Court reminded public school employers that the failure to follow procedural requirements for dismissing a tenured employee may result in the reinstatement of that employee. In the cases of New Kensington-Arnold School District v. New Kensington Arnold Education Association and School District of Philadelphia vs. Jones, the Commonwealth Court's rulings resulted in the reinstatement of a teacher who was terminated for using inappropriate language with students and a teacher who was dismissed following an arrest for possession of a "sawed off" shot gun, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.


CGA School Law Snapshot: Office of Civil Rights Issues Letter on Rights of Transgender Students

On May 13, 2016 the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education made headlines by issuing a "Dear Colleague" letter regarding the rights of transgender students. While "Dear Colleague" letters are not statutory or regulatory law, the letter is an expression of the OCR's interpretation of federal law and how the OCR intends to enforce the law.


School Law Alert: Should High Schools Acquire and Administer Narcan?

Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued information encouraging school districts to stock and administer an antidote for opioid overdoses called Naloxone, commonly referred to as “Narcan.” The Department of Health’s communication was issued more than a year after the passage of Act 139 of 2014, a law that provides the legal authority for certain individuals to administer Narcan. Last week, PSBA issued a Policy News Network (“PNN”) newsletter with a model policy to provide districts with resources on this subject. Because our school clients might have important questions regarding Narcan, we are issuing the following summary about this issue.


Effective Tax Planning

Even though we are just starting a new year, it is important to start thinking about tax planning, if you have not done so already. Spring may seem far off, but April 15 will be here before we know it. It’s difficult to do any meaningful tax planning for 2015 at that point. One of the most common tax deductions is charitable giving, but did you know that you may be able to deduct more than just gifts or contributions to charities? If you volunteer your time for a non-profit organization, you should be aware that your generosity may entitle you to some tax breaks.