Making Sure No Child is Left Behind – Education Law Degree

While I do not have a law degree, working in education has allowed me to cross paths with education lawyers on numerous occasions. I found the issues they deal with on a daily basis to be both noble and challenging.

What is Education Law?

Education law deals with schools, school systems and school boards charged with educating children. It is a branch of civil law that encompasses the laws and regulations that govern federal and state education, administration and operation of educational institutions, school athletics and education programs, methods and materials.

What do Education Lawyers do?

Education lawyers work very closely with school faculty, staff, students and administration. They spend their time going over issues such as discipline, suspension, expulsion and discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex and disability. Additionally, education lawyer’s deal with questions related to school attendance, authority, civil rights, dress codes, drugs, disability, home schooling, immigrant visas, medical requirements, sexual harassment, and special education rights. As you can see, the span of topics coming across the desk of an education lawyer is impressive.

Careers in Education Law

Given that the span of topic covered by this area of the law is quite broad, so are the career opportunities. With an education law degree you could represent post-secondary educational institutions and institutions of higher learning in a number of different matters. Your clients could include a number of colleges, universities as well as school districts.

While representing these education institutions you would work on issues involving discrimination, disability, financial aid, and accreditation and licensing issues facing schools, staff and teachers/professors. Additionally, you could represent individuals, parents or students as well as teachers, professor and school employees on similar issues.

Job Outlook

Education law, and the lawyers that practice it, will continue to be a part of the education system. They are a necessity tasked with ensuring that every student has a fair and equal access to education.

According to the Department of Labor Statistics, employment of lawyers is expected to grow 11% during 2006-2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The increased demands for legal services will result in increased job opportunities. However, due to a large number of students graduating from law school, competition for jobs is quite intense. Those with strong academic records will have the best job opportunities.

Why You Need an Education Law Solicitor

If you work for an educational establishment then you’re bound to need an education law solicitor at some point.

Here’s why.

1. Schools, colleges and universities need to be just as accountable as other organisations, and private companies, so you’ll want to make sure that everything is managed properly and complies with all relevant laws.

2. Healthy and safety is perhaps more important in an educational environment than in other workplaces, due to the ages of the pupils and students. You’ll need to make sure that your working practices, and out of school activities meet the necessary legislations and law, so that you minimise the risk of accidents and incidents to staff and students in and out of the classroom.

3. You’ll want to make sure that your pupil and staff discipline policies are up to date and that unruly pupils are dealt with properly and in accordance with the relevant policies.

4. Although you work in the education sector, you need to know that employment laws still apply. Any instances of discrimination need to be taken seriously and any issues with staff contracts or working hours will need to dealt with efficiently and effectively. An employment solicitor may be able to assist you in addition to an education law solicitor.

5. You’ll need to make sure that your recruitment policies are up to date, and that they are not discriminatory. You might need to carry out further checks and investigations on potential new staff before you can employ them, and so will need to make sure that this is done legally.

6. As you will be dealing with a lot of paperwork, such as staff contracts and school policies, you’ll want to make sure that these are reviewed regularly so that any advances in technology, or changes to staff duties are incorporated. For example, you’ll need to make sure that your staff and students are aware of the implications of the potential effects of breaking IT or privacy policies.

7. You might be dealing with different suppliers and contracts, and so will want to make sure that you get the best deal for you. An education law solicitor can prove invaluable so that you’re not wasting time and resources on finding out whether the contract is legally binding, and what it really means to you.

8. Some educational establishments are reliant on donations or funding. All contributions and payments need to be properly processed and everything will need to be above board and legal for auditing and accounting purposes.

9. Estate management is an important aspect of modern educational work, and so your duties might involve negotiate the buying or selling of land, or need to be aware of the importance of planning, and dealing with the board of governors. You might also want to know how to make better use of the space that is already available to the school, college or university.

10. Perhaps you’re considering a new building for your educational establishment, and want to know how to get the planning permission you need and meet the relevant environmental and construction laws that will affect you. An education law solicitor will be able to share their expertise, skills and knowledge in order to help you.

Now you know more about the services they provide, do you need an education law solicitor?

Special Education Laws

Special education refers to the education of children with physical disorders or disabilities, psychiatric disorders, emotional distress, behavioral disorders, and learning disorders. Traditional educational techniques or school programs do not sufficiently meet the requirements of these children. Children with special education needs are guaranteed rights to services in schools under federal and state laws. These laws include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA 1997), and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). These laws guarantee special education programs and financial assistance for disabled children and youth in the United States.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1997 is a federal law that governs all special education services for children in the United States. The major objective of IDEA is to provide free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. The IDEA 2004 is a revision or reauthorization of IDEA 1997, which preserves the civil rights guarantees of IDEA 1997, but makes substantial changes regarding how schools determine whether a child has learning disability and needs special education services. Services to very young children, i.e., infants and toddlers, are also covered under the IDEA. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights legislative act, which proscribes discrimination against children with disabilities and provides them with reasonable accommodations. Under section 504, any person who has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity is considered disabled.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) commands all educational institutions to meet the needs of children with psychiatric problems. In the United States, procedures for the implementation of the Federal laws and procedural safeguards are different in different states and therefore parents should have a good knowledge of the rules and regulations in their particular area. For any assistance, parents can always contact the regional office of the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.