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Monday, September 10, 2012

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Issue 7 · September 10, 2012
Welcome to Education Administration Headlines + More!

This free weekly newsletter offers education leaders and administration professionals a speedy and authoritative source of information needed to run a modern teaching and learning enterprise, from pre-K to university, from small school to multi-level system. Our mission is to help you stay on top of the kaleidoscope of issues that confronts you every day in a busy, constantly moving educational institution. Human resources management, student achievement, teacher performance, technology and innovation, financial management, regulatory and standards compliance, community dialog, and risk mitigation -- we cover it all. Our editors follow what's happening daily and bring it to you in a concise and easy-to-read format. Plus! we follow legal developments in our "Education in the Courts" feature and provide insights from leading thinkers and experts in the field of education. In addition, we notify you of online learning opportunities tailored to the incredibly diverse, day-to-day challenges you encounter as a school administrator. We invite you to see for yourself with this complimentary first edition of Education Administration Headlines + More!

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General Public Is "Down" on Public Schools
The general public rates public schools below private schools, charter schools, and other education providers, but the funny thing is: the parents of public school students think their kids are getting a fine education.

Neighborhood Watch? Distressed Neighborhood Education Grants Under Scrutiny
A House Committee chairman is asking pointed questions about a Department of Education grant program that funds services aimed at helping poor families secure a good education for their kids.

Minority Male Educational Achievement Disparities Worsening
Black and Hispanic males are slipping further behind white males and female minorities in their performance in school, and the trend is showing up in employment outcomes as well.

School and Coach Not Liable for Athlete's Injuries
When students partake in extracurricular sports and recreation, they assume responsibility for the physical risks, as long as the school exercises ordinary reasonable care to protect their student athletes.

Webinars Begin This Week!
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School Bullying: How to Build a Bully-Free Campus and Staff
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 @ 1 PM Eastern
About one-third of students are bullied each year, and even adults can be bullied in a school setting, as evidenced recently by the school bus monitor who was brought to tears by her young tormentors. This briefing will examine the nature of bullying and describe the steps that visionary schools are taking to become no-bully zones.

Managing Disabilities in the School and University Setting: How New ADAAA Requirements Affect Section 504
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 1 PM Eastern

You have expansive new responsibilities to identify, accommodate, and protect students with disabilities, including those with medical and psychiatric disabilities. Learn from an education law expert what the laws and regulations now require of educational institutions.
International Student Visas & Transitions to Work Visas and Green Cards: How Administrators Can Help Students
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 @ 1 PM Eastern

Foreign students who earn their degrees from U.S. institutions often want to stay and work here -- and they look to their college or university for assistance. To help you be responsive, join this webinar to learn about Optional Practical Training, the H-1B visa process, alternatives to the H-1B visa, and related student and graduate work issues.

The Use of Social Media by Schools, Students, and Staff: Know the Risks and How to Reduce Your Potential Liability
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 @ 1 PM Eastern
Social media has infiltrated schools at all levels, and its implications range from screening employees to disciplining students, from privacy to bullying, from staff communications to free speech. Let an attorney familiar with social media law help you mitigate these new risks.

How to Write an Effective Anti-Harassment Policy and Related Procedures to Include
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 1 PM Eastern

An effective anti-harassment policy must encompass all types of harassment (including sex- and race-based), all channels (from face-to-face to social media), and all types (student-to-student, staff-to-student, staff-to-staff, and student-to-staff). Get guidance on how to capture all these situations in a comprehensive policy that defines your responsibilities and lowers your legal risks.
Constitutional Protections of Employees During Misconduct Investigations
Thursday, November 1, 2012 @ 1 PM Eastern

Understand how to investigate alleged employee misconduct without violating the employee's constitutional rights -- particularly in situations where law enforcement becomes involved in the investigation. Learn about the scope of free speech rights, due process, and other relevant legal and constitutional principles.
No Time Now?
All Webinars Will Be Accessible on CD!
What if you have a time conflict and can't participate in a webinar of interest on its scheduled date and time? Don't worry. You can still take advantage of our CD option. Soon after completion of each webinar, the program will be available on CD. Click here for the complete listing and future ordering information.
Education in the Courts
Three Hours Short? Not Enough to Disqualify Teacher in FMLA Lawsuit

To be eligible for protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee must work at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period. This threshold may not necessarily apply to teachers, however, ruled the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Donnelly v. Greenburgh Central School District No. 7.
In this case, the plaintiff, a former high school teacher, claimed that he had been unlawfully denied tenure for having taken protected leave under the FMLA. As is common practice in school districts around the country, new teachers in the Greenburgh Central School District are hired under a three-year probationary contract period, after which they are evaluated for tenure and either receive or are denied a permanent teaching position.
During the plaintiff's third and final year of his probationary contract, he became ill and had gall bladder surgery, which resulted in him missing more than a week of teaching. Prior to his surgery, the plaintiff had earned consistently high ratings for his performance in the classroom. Post-leave, after numerous absences, his evaluations fell, with his high school principal criticizing him orally and in writing for his absences, including those taken during his medical leave. At the conclusion of the three-year probationary period, the plaintiff was denied tenure. The plaintiff sued, alleging that the district had denied him tenure in retaliation for his taking leave pursuant to the FMLA.
The federal district court sided with the school district. The court ruled that, even if the plaintiff were eligible for FMLA leave, he had not shown that he was qualified for tenure under standards established in Zahorik v. Cornell Univ., a case involving discriminatory denial of tenure to assistant professors at the university. Considering that issue "dispositive," the district court did not address Donnelly's arguable FMLA eligibility.
On appeal, the court ruled that Zahorik applies only in the context of colleges and universities; it does not apply to high school teachers challenging allegedly unlawful tenure denials. Consequently, the appeals court turned to the FMLA aspect of the case.
The court rejected the argument that the plaintiff was not eligible for FMLA leave. The school district argued that the plaintiff had worked only 1,247 hours during the preceding year -- 3 hours short of the 1,250 threshold for FMLA leave eligibility. The 1,247 figure was arrived at by calculating the number of hours teachers were required to work under their union's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) -- namely, 7 hours and 15 minutes per day for 172 days worked of a 189-day school year.
The plaintiff claimed that "most teachers regularly work in excess of a total of 1 hour before and after class," and that he "typically worked a total of 1.5 hours before and after class every day." There was no record as to whether the plaintiff actually worked additional hours beyond that required by the CBA, but the court noted that the CBA explicitly stated that teachers work extra hours outside of the hours anticipated by the CBA.
The court also noted that the burden of proof lies with the school district in this case, citing the Department of Labor's regulations interpreting the FMLA as follows:
"[I]n the event an employer does not maintain an accurate record of hours worked by an employee, including for employees who are exempt from FLSA's requirement that a record be kept of their hours worked ..., the employer has the burden of showing that the employee has not worked the requisite hours. An employer must be able to clearly demonstrate, for example, that full-time teachers ... of an elementary or secondary school system, or institution of higher education, or other educational establishment or institution (who often work outside the classroom or at their homes) did not work 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months in order to claim that the teachers are not eligible for FMLA leave."
Thus, the appeals court reversed the district court and remanded the case for trial.
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In This Week's Issue
· Education administration, innovation, and compliance news & issues

Informative Webinars Start Soon
· Bully-free school zone
· Accommodating students with disabilities post-ADAAA
· Assisting international students who stay to work
· Social media use by schools, students, and staff
· Comprehensive school anti-harassment policy
· School employee misconduct investigations: constitutional issues

Education in the Courts
· Teacher denied tenure after taking FMLA leave
Here's a Thought
The Shrinking Teacher Pool
"Almost half of our existing teachers are set to retire in the current decade. A million new people are coming into this field. Today, however, half of those new teachers will leave the field within five years. That is unacceptable. And many other bright, young people don't even consider teaching — either because salaries are too low, opportunities for advancement are limited, or working conditions are too difficult."
-- Source: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a speech to teachers in Baltimore County, MD, August 22, 2012


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