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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Oh, Snap! Supreme Court Rules School District Violated Cheerleader’s First Amendment Rights in Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L

Posted on: June 24th, 2021

By: Tia Combs and Racheal Slimmon

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a controversial holding by the Third Circuit that schools cannot regulate students’ speech outside of the school’s walls. In doing so, the Court reaffirmed that while a school’s ability to restrict student speech outside of the schoolhouse gates is less than it would be inside, it does continue to play an important role in school governance.

In Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., the Supreme Court addressed the case of a high school student who took her frustration in not making her school’s varsity cheerleading team to Snapchat. She posted a photo, complete with a caption containing profane language criticizing the outcome, and another comment questioning the team’s leadership decision-making. Although the student posted the Snapchats outside school hours and away from the school’s campus, the junior varsity cheerleading coach suspended the student from the team for a year.

As expected, the Court explicitly declined to fashion a rule defining exactly when schools can regulate off-campus student speech. Instead, the Court, relying on the precedent set in Tinker and its progeny, held that while schools’ ability to regulate off-campus speech is much less great than their ability to regulate speech inside the building, it is still a viable concept. The majority opinion acknowledges that in the modern world, there may be situations in which school needs to regulate off-campus student speech, such as online schooling, breaches of school security and school computers, writing papers, bullying, threats, and speech that targets specific individuals. 

The Court highlighted three aspects of off-campus speech that diminish the “unique educational characteristics” which permit schools to regulate students’ on-campus speech when such regulation would ordinarily violate the First Amendment. First, schools rarely stand in place of parents off-campus. Second, regulation of both on-campus and off-campus runs the risk of allowing the school to regulate all speech ever uttered by a student. Third, schools have an interest in protecting students’ unpopular expression, especially away from school.

As for B.L.’s speech, the Court ruled the school district violated the student’s First Amendment rights by disciplining her. The Court explained the district’s interest in regulating the cheerleader’s speech was diminished because the Snapchats were posted away from school, the speech was directed toward a private group of the student’s friends, the posts did not identify the school or target any person, and there was little evidence that the Snapchat posts disrupted the school environment. Thus, while the Court has now made it clear that schools may regulate off-campus student speech, B.L.’s case was not a case where this regulation was permissible.

Read the full opinion here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20-255_g3bi.pdf

If you have any questions, please contact Tia Combs at [email protected] and Rachael Slimmon at [email protected]

The Supreme Court Considers Discipline for Off-Campus Student Speech

Posted on: May 3rd, 2021

By: Rachael Slimmon

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case that tests the boundaries of a school’s right to control the off-campus speech of its students. In Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.,a Pennsylvania public high school student expressed her frustration over not making the varsity cheerleading team by posting a Snapchat picture of herself holding up her middle fingers with a caption that included the phrases “f*** school” and  “f*** cheer.” The junior varsity cheerleading coach saw a screen shot of the Snapchat post, and the coach suspended the student from the team for a year.

In its seminal K-12 free speech case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court held that schools cannot regulate speech unless it “materially and substantially” disrupts the school. The Mahanoy case now presents the question of whether Tinker extends to schools regulating speech that occurs outside of school.

The Internet, social media, and smartphones mean that off-campus speech can affect students at school, which makes this issue more complex than Tinker was over 50 years ago.  At oral argument on Mahanoy, the Justices were heavily focused on the issue of modern technology and expressed skepticism that a geographical boundary between school and non-school locations would permit schools to effectively handle problems such as cyberbullying, threats of violence, and harassment. Justices also expressed concern over whether the discipline meted out to the student was excessive.

The big question is whether the Court will issue a broad or narrow ruling.  The Justices’ comments during oral argument forecasted a narrower ruling, as the Justices seemed uncomfortable with the notion of a broad opinion.  Justice Alito was adamant that “there has to be a clear rule” to issue a broad opinion and regulate speech outside schools, and no such clear rules were proposed. Justice Breyer said he was “frightened to death of writing a standard” and Justice Kavanaugh agreed that the Court “shouldn’t write a treatise here.”

Most of the Justices suggested that a narrow ruling tailored to the facts of this case would be appropriate.  Justice Kavanaugh proposed a ruling that the First Amendment does not bar school discipline for off-campus speech and remanding the case to the Third Circuit.  Justice Alito suggested that the Court need not determine if Tinker applies outside of school because the discipline was not appropriate in this case.  And, Justices Breyer and Sotomayor suggested that the speech in this case did not cause material and substantial disruption to the school, which would invalidate the school’s authority to impose discipline at all. 

The Court’s ruling is expected in the next several weeks. In the meantime, school districts should remain aware that the issue of disciplining students for off-campus speech that affects the school environment is an evolving legal issue that presents significant risks.

Freeman Mathis & Gary’s Education Law Practice Team assists school districts with analyzing student discipline policies and procedures. For more information about this topic, contact Rachael Slimmon or Candice Jackson.

Clemson University Settlements Highlight Trends in Title IX Sports Claims

Posted on: April 27th, 2021

By: Candice Jackson and Wayne Melnick

As colleges and universities face budget shortfalls that may be especially sharp due to challenges posed by COVID-19, two pre-litigation settlements reached by Clemson University last week highlight the risks to educational institutions of patching budget deficits by cutting sports teams. Citing financial challenges caused by COVID-19, Clemson announced in November 2020 that it planned to discontinue its men’s cross country and track and field programs, projecting a cost savings to the university of about $2 million.

On March 12, 2021, attorneys for a group of Clemson men’s varsity outdoor cross country and track and field athletes sent a pre-litigation demand letter to Clemson, arguing that Clemson’s elimination of those teams violated Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities, specifically including athletic activities). The argument was that under Clemson’s status quo, Clemson’s provision of undergraduate intercollegiate athletics teams resulted in an almost-zero discrepancy between the number of male athletes and number of female athletes, which corresponded with Clemson’s overall undergraduate population of an almost-even split between male students and female students. The attorneys argued that if Clemson cut those teams, the discrepancy between number of male athletes and female athletes would increase by more than 1,300%, without the kind of circumstance under which such a disproportionality might pass muster under Title IX (such as where there is not significant enough “interest and ability” among athletes of one sex to achieve the “substantial proportionality” that Title IX compliance requires). Invoking the judicially implied right of private action under Title IX, the demand letter threatened a lawsuit seeking an injunction reinstating the varsity teams.

A few days later, attorneys representing members of Clemson’s women’s rowing, cross country, and track and field teams sent Clemson a demand letter threatening class action litigation under Title IX alleging that Clemson systematically failed to provide female athletes with equal athletic opportunities. The letter cited data showing that in the preceding year Clemson provided only 39% of its athletic financial aid to female athletes, and only 16.7% of Clemson’s recruiting expenses were dedicated to recruiting for women’s teams.

On April 22, 2021, Clemson entered into coordinated settlement agreements with both groups of potential plaintiffs. Clemson agreed to (1) restore the men’s cross country and track and field teams immediately; (2) conduct a review of all its intercollegiate athletic programs and formulate a “gender equity plan” by July 1, 2022; (3) publicly announce that Clemson was voluntarily retaining its men’s indoor cross country and track and field teams, and that it pledges to expand women’s opportunities on an equitable basis; (4) refrain from eliminating any men’s or women’s teams until its gender equity plan is finalized and such eliminations would not violate Title IX; and (5) institute policy changes designed to provide benefits more equitably to female athletes (e.g., equalizing as between male and female athletes the type of meal plans, sports equipment, pool access, flights to away games, sports medicine services, and other benefits provided by Clemson to its athletes).  

It is, to say the least, unusual for a significant, contested legal issue to be raised and resolved in the span of a few weeks. Several factors likely contributed to the quick, substantial resolution and illustrate trends in Title IX sports claims.

First, Clemson is the latest in a string of institutions of higher education to face similar claims that cuts to sports teams violate Title IX (although, interestingly, this appears to be the first time that male athletes have successfully argued Title IX violations based on sports program eliminations). Public and private institutions, such as the College of William and Mary, and UNC-Pembroke, have over the last couple of years resolved similar claims pre-litigation, and courts have not been shy about granting injunctions under Title IX for institutions that refuse to reconsider cuts that result in significant sex-based disproportionality. With tight-knit groups of lawyers on the look-out for these kinds of potential Title IX violations, and with social media sharpening student, alumni, and media interest in the topic of college sports generally, what used to be routine budget decisions now garner immediate, intense scrutiny.

Second, in Clemson’s case, its elimination decision in November 2020 led to charges that Clemson had selected teams with higher proportions of Black athletes for elimination, leading to a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging a Title VI violation (that complaint is still pending). This intersection between Title IX and Title VI (which is not confined to the realm of sports programs) doubles an institution’s risk of discrimination allegations.

Third, the female athletes who demanded sex-based equitable treatment from Clemson explicitly and publicly supported their male counterparts’ Title IX allegations, reflecting a new dynamic in Title IX sports situations: insistence by female and male athletes that their institution give more benefits to all athletes rather than pit male and female athletes against each other to compete for a university’s resources. This trend differs from the typical fact pattern throughout Title IX’s decades of spurring sex-based equality in athletic opportunity, where frequently Title IX sports enforcement has fostered a battle of the sexes, with excessive focus on sex parity resulting in reducing men’s opportunities rather than increasing women’s opportunities. While there is little legal significance to whether or not female and male athletes “team up” in these situations, this dynamic does increase the pressures an institution faces in the media and in the court of public opinion.

This pair of Clemson University Title IX settlements reinforces the challenges that educational institutions face when trying to make financial decisions without violating – or at least creating the perception of violating – non-discrimination laws that require equal treatment on the basis of sex (Title IX) and race (Title VI). While non-revenue generating sports programs may seem like low-hanging fruit to an institution facing severe revenue problems, and such decisions are almost always made without any purpose or intention of negatively impacting groups of athletes based on sex or race, the risks inherent in these decisions require careful consideration.

Freeman Mathis & Gary’s Education Practice Team advises educational institutions in risk identification and mitigation strategies. For more information about this topic, please contact Candice Jackson or Wayne Melnick.

FMG Education Law Blog Series: Special Education Issues Facing Schools in the COVID-19 Era

Posted on: April 22nd, 2021

By: Tia Combs and Candice Jackson

Part 2: “A Year Online” 

A New and Deadly Virus

In January 2020, few Americans were aware the outbreak of a novel coronavirus that was about to dramatically alter how nearly every person and institution conducted their daily lives. On January 29, 2020, there were only five cases total in the United States. By mid-March, COVID-19 had caused a global pandemic, shutting down all but the most essential services across the nation.

As the novel coronavirus spread across the world and began to circulate in the United States, educators began to look to the government for guidance on how to cope.  By February 11, 2020, the American Federation of Teachers called for guidance from the federal government as to how schools should handle the threat.  In mid-February, individual schools and districts began to make the decision to close for deep cleaning, planning to reopen after a few days or a week. On February 25, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), warned that schools should prepare for the threat of the new virus.

Soon after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic on March 11, 2020, schools across the United States shut their doors to students. The first statewide shut down occurred in Ohio, when Gov. Mike DeWine announced all Ohio Schools would close. By March 25, all public schools in the United States had closed, as to in-person instruction. Most schools continued to be closed until at least the end of the spring 2020 semester. This left schools scrambling to provide educational instruction, with unique questions and challenges regarding providing special education services to students with disabilities.  

School Districts React

From the start of the pandemic schools worked quickly to do what they could to substitute remote learning for in-person education. Schools scrambled to buy and distribute hardware and software needed to make remote learning a reality, amidst questions about equitable access for populations of students on whom the difficulties associated with learning online fall disproportionately.

Chromebooks suddenly became the hottest product on the market. So many Chromebooks were ordered that the New York Times reported that sales of the devices in 2020 rose as much as 41% over 2019. Los Angeles Unified School District alone reportedly spent $100 million on computers in March 2020 to distribute devices to students for online instruction and train teachers and staff. 

Almost all districts had to tackle a preexisting digital divide as the need for good internet access became the deciding factor as to whether a student could go to school successfully or not. Districts purchased and distributed wi-fi hotspots. Some districts whose students have spotty in-home internet access set up mobile wi-fi hotspots in the parking lots where their school buses now sat idle.

As most schools transitioned to teaching students virtually, special education presented a particular problem.

A Specialized Curriculum

To understand the nature of the problem presented by trying to provide special education virtually, it helps to consider what exactly special education is. In Part 1 of this blog series we examined how the IDEA requires all public school districts to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to students with disabilities and how the contours of FAPE have been defined and redefined over the years. But, as a practical matter, how does the implementing of FAPE work?

By definition, special education describes “specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.” 34 CFR 300.39(a)(1).  Perhaps the crux of the definition is the term “specially designed instruction,” which is also defined as “adapting…the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique need of the child that result from the child’s disability and to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum.” 34 CFR 300.39(a)(1). 

School districts generally accomplish designing specially designed instruction for students with disabilities by looking at the grade-level standards and the needs of the individual student. Teaching methods are then adapted to help the individual student get the benefit of the curriculum in a manner that is tailored to that student. For example, a student with dysgraphia, a neurological disorder that impairs fine motor skills and the ability to write, might be provided with a scribe or a computer to help her take notes. Another student with the same disability with might benefit from additional time for assignments and tests, or permission to take a test in a room without the distraction of peers. Or, a student with severe cognitive or developmental disabilities might have an aide assigned just to him that helps him progress through the school day, while another student with the same disabilities may instead be placed in a special education class for all or part of the day. The specific accommodations a child needs are decided upon by his or her IEP Team at a meeting and then memorialized in the IEP.

Depending on the special education services that a student needs, providing those services in a virtual environment, in a manner that is as effective as when the services are provided in-person, may present significant challenges.

Federal Response

Initial Confusion

With districts and schools faced with the seemingly insurmountable challenge of adjusting to closed school buildings with little or no preparation, the United States Department of Education (ED) issued its “Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During a COVID-19 Outbreak” on March 12, 2020. In that document, ED stated:

If an LEA closes its schools to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, then an LEA would not be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period of time.

If an LEA continues to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure, the school must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE.

The document went on to state that “The Department understands there may be exceptional circumstances that could affect how a particular service is provided.” However, the overly simplistic statements from ED did little to allay the fears of school administrators that provision of FAPE might not be possible, at least for some students with disabilities, in an all-remote setting. The legitimate concern over whether schools could provide FAPE online led some districts to decide not to offer any educational services, at least in the short run, during a time when the general public’s view was that COVID-19 was a short-term problem and that schools and the rest of the country would be “back to normal” after we had “stopped the spread.” Lots of schools, imagining that the pandemic shut-downs would only be for a brief period, closed schools altogether with the hope and expectation that schools could re-open even before the end of the spring term.

However, we learned throughout March and April of 2020 that COVID-19 would not be a short-term problem.  ED realized quickly that its initial statements in the March 12, 2020 Q & A were having the perverse impact of contributing to school closings out of fear of not being capable of providing FAPE online. Only 9 days after the March 12 Q & A, ED published its “Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities” in an attempt to further clarify.

In the Supplemental Fact Sheet, ED stated:

At the outset, OCR  and  OSERS must  address  a  serious  misunderstanding  that  has  recently  circulated  within  the  educational community. As school districts nationwide take necessary steps to protect the health and safety of their students, many are moving to virtual or online education (distance instruction). Some educators, however, have been reluctant to provide any distance instruction because they believe that federal disability law presents insurmountable barriers to remote education. This is simply not true. We remind schools they should not opt to close or decline to provide distance instruction, at the expense of students, to address matters pertaining to services for students with disabilities. Rather, school systems must make local decisions that take into consideration the health,  safety, and well-being of all their students and staff.  

To be clear: ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance instruction. 

ED further noted that “federal disability law allows for flexibility in determining how to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. The determination of how FAPE is to be provided may need to be different in this time of unprecedented national emergency…although federal law requires distance instruction to be accessible to students with disabilities, it does not mandate specific methodologies.” The Supplement also encouraged states, districts, and parents to work together to agree on extended timelines and otherwise make mutually beneficial compromises for state complaints, due process hearings, IEPs, eligibility determinations, and reevaluations.

ED Declines to Waive Special Education Requirements

Section 3511(d)(4) of Division A of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (March 27, 2020) requested the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, provide Congress with recommendations concerning whether additional waivers of the IDEA’s provisions were necessary to assist states and local educational agencies with meeting the needs of students and adults with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.  

Many districts were dismayed when on April 27, 2020, ED issued its report to Congress stating that Secretary DeVos was “not recommending Congress pass any additional waiver concerning the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of the IDEA, reiterating that learning must continue for all students during the COVID-19 national emergency.”

Teachers and districts fretted that without waivers they would fall short of the requirements of FAPE. When the Chicago Board of Education determined that compliance would require a revision of 56,000 IEPs and 10,000 Section 504 Plans, teachers in Chicago went to federal court requesting a waiver of these requirements. Specifically, the Chicago Teachers’ Union filed suit against ED, DeVos, and the Board of Education of the City of Chicago, alleging that ED’s refusal to request waiver of any FAPE requirements pursuant to the CARES Act would require teachers and case managers to revise all of those IEPs and Section 504 Plans within the last six weeks of school. The federal judge, however, held that the case was unlikely to succeed on the merits and was ultimately dismissed.

ED Offers New Guidance

Helpfully, having worked with school districts for half a year at that point to navigate COVID-19 challenges, ED issued a new Question and Answer document on September 28, 2020 addressing how districts should implement IDEA during the COVID-19 pandemic. ED highlighted that while a student’s education could be provided through remote/distance instruction, in-person instruction, or some combination of both, districts remained responsible for ensuring that FAPE is provided. The September 2020 Q&A noted that it was appropriate for an IEP team to consider how special education and related services described in an IEP might be provided both in traditional in-person methods and using remote instruction. When discussing how remote instruction might be provided, ED pointed out that this might include “online instruction, teleconference, direct instruction via telephone or videoconferencing, or consultative services to the parent.”

This guidance was similar to that being provided by state departments of education. Most states issued guidance reminding districts that FAPE was still required but that it might look significantly different than prior to COVID-19.

Schools and Teachers Rise to the Occasion

Education professionals have done an admirable job of finding creative ways to deliver services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers mastered new technologies and conducted classes online, including specialized services for children with disabilities. This required constant adaptation as both students and teachers adjusted to a new paradigm of teaching and learning.

Particularly difficult was the delivery of services that had traditionally been provided only in person such as gross motor skills and behavioral therapy. There were also a lot of questions about setting up online schooling for non-verbal students and those that need one-on-one directions with prompts, redirection, or hand-over-hand instruction.

Special education teachers worked overtime to assess students’ needs in light of the pandemic. Teachers made endless phone calls to determine what tools and other support students would have at home.  They coached parents to help their children in new ways and worked with them to assess goals and objectives to create benchmarks.

Teachers also got involved with more than just students’ academic lives. IDEA requires districts to also address students’ management, physical, and social needs. Teachers recognized that the support their students needed was ongoing and continued to work with students and their parents to get students the education they needed.

Despite heroic efforts by schools and educators, frustrated and frightened parents have filed lawsuits in several states claiming (among other things) that school closures and virtual learning violate the IDEA by failing to provide FAPE. While most such lawsuits are still on-going, at least one court (in New Mexico) has already held that it is possible that some students cannot be provided with FAPE using remote learning. The legal uncertainty around online provision of FAPE thus continues to present schools with significant concerns and risks. Because the heart of FAPE is individualized services based on each individual student’s needs, it is difficult for a court to conclude, for instance, that FAPE can never be provided virtually or that FAPE must always be provided virtually whenever educational services are provided virtually for students without disabilities.

In other words, educators, students, and families have strived mightily to meet unparalleled challenges with a shared goal of continuing to provide quality educational services for American children. But a year into the pandemic, how successful has mass incorporation of virtual learning been, especially for students with disabilities, and what are the legal risk factors facing schools in the coming year? Our third and last blog in this series will discuss the road ahead for school districts when it comes to providing FAPE against the backdrop of long-term changes COVID-19 has wrought on American education, including hybrid distance learning models and learning losses resulting from the pandemic.

For more information about this topic please contact Tia Combs at [email protected] or Candice Jackson at [email protected].

California Supreme Court Clarifies Duty of Care, With Special Implications for Claims by Students and Minors

Posted on: April 19th, 2021

By: Candice Jackson and Robert A. Cutbirth

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. On the first day of this important month, the California Supreme Court issued Brown v. USA Taekwondo. Arising from allegations of sexual assault by members of the United States’ women’s taekwondo team against their coach and the sport’s governing bodies, the decision redefines the process Courts must undertake in determining whether a defendant owed a duty of care to protect a plaintiff from physical or emotional harm allegedly caused by a third party.

In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court confirmed that upon a demurrer (motion to dismiss) or later motion, the judge must apply a two-step analysis to determine whether a defendant can be held liable in negligence for physical or emotional harm caused by a third party (non-employee): (1) did plaintiff factually allege a “special relationship” or other circumstances imposing on the defendant an affirmative legal duty to protect plaintiff from the harm alleged, and, if so (2) do the Rowland v. Christian public policy factors limit or negate that duty. Confirming that the Rowland factors do not create legal duties, they only limit or negate otherwise established duties of care, the Supreme Court confirmed that if a plaintiff cannot factually plead the existence of a special duty to protectively act, the defendant is entitled have the case dismissed by the judge without further consideration.

In the context of physical or emotional harm to students and minors, this is the second recent decision by the California Supreme Court. In Regents of Univ. of Calif. v. Superior Court, the Court held in 2018 that the University had a special relationship with its students, creating a duty to protect them from harm during classroom/curricular activities, because the University controlled the physical location of the classes and the requirement of attendance. In Brown, the Court specifically approved of its Regents decision, yet reached the opposite result as to the United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”), upholding its dismissal because plaintiffs could not allege that the USOC had sufficient control over the events, coach, or physical locations where the assaults allegedly occurred in order to create a legal duty of protection, even though the Court agreed that there is a “problem of sexual abuse of minors in organized youth sports and other activities.” As to defendant USA Taekwondo (“USAT”), the governing body which sanctioned events, picked locations, and could discipline and/or manage access by coaches and others, the Court held the facts pled in the complaint could support a protective duty of care allowing the case to proceed past the pleadings stage, even if the perpetrator was not an employee of USAT, requiring USAT to further defend itself in the trial court.

The California Supreme Court’s decision is not limited to claims by students, athletes, or minors, but the Brown decision is of primary importance to public and private schools, colleges, and universities, churches and religious organizations, community recreation leagues, and public and private community support organizations, whose events, facilities, or programs often involve access/potential access to vulnerable individuals by third parties intending to use such access to engage in wrongful conduct. While Brown provides and clarifies important defense arguments, your facility use or operational agreements, your grant or operational funds (particularly important for educational providers receiving federal funds, where care must be taken to comply with anti-harassment and response obligations imposed by the 2020 updated U.S. Department of Education regulations, as well as anticipated updates to those standards discussed here), and other statutory obligations (dealing with health or psychiatric care, for instance) must still be considered in determining your exposure and your risk management/risk avoidance plans.

FMG’s practice groups utilize an interdisciplinary approach across substantive areas of law such as tort, commercial litigation, and employment as well as industry-specific practice teams in areas such as education, health care, and non-profit organizations, to help clients ameliorate legal risks and defend against claims. If we can provide assistance in these areas, or if you desire additional information on this topic, please contact Candice Jackson or Robert A. Cutbirth