Education Law in the 21st Century

While it is not an area of law in which a great many cases are undertaken, the cases and issues that end up arising and being litigated in the education law area tends to prove to be very significant. This has been the history of education law and remains the reality in this day and age. Through this article you are provided an overview of some of the more significant and transitory issues associated with education law in this day and age.

A good many of the cases that have arisen in the education law arena have centered on equal access to educational opportunities based upon issues pertaining to ethnicity, race, sex and religion. Some of the most significant issues pertaining to education law have involved access to educational experiences by people of minority races. Of course, the most significant case in this regard actually was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1959. The case of Brown vs. Board of Education brought an end to the concept of “separate but equal”, which guided educational systems across the United States.

Although the Brown case was handed down by the Supreme Court many years ago, there remain issues that still arise when it comes to making sure that minority students have an appropriate access to educational opportunities in the country. For example, many school districts became embroiled in cases involving the busing of students to achieve racial equality when it came to educational systems, only in recent times have attendant issues been resolved.

Some of the newer issues and cases involving race, sex and related issues and education law have centered on access to scholarships and other educational financing opportunities. There are still cases that arise in which a contention is made that certain financing options are not fully available to all individuals.

Most recently, many of the cases involving education law issues have involved individuals with physical or other types of impairments. The goal in regard to these cases is to work to ensure that educational opportunities are made regularly and fully available to people no matter their physical status. (Related cases also center on individuals who have some sort of intellectual or mental health issue as well.)

Finally, another active area in education law in this day and age involves public school financing. First of all, there are cases that center upon working to ensure that all public school systems in a particular state are fairly funded. Second, there are cases and issues that focus upon the funding of private school educational experiences. Legislative leaders have also found themselves involved in developing new laws to attempt to deal with these two types of issues in more recent years – a trend that is expected to carry forth into the future.

There remain lawyers in business today who are specializing in education law. More often than not these attorneys are most frequently involved in ensuring that people have an even and equal access to appropriate and meaningful educational opportunities.

Education Law – What You Need to Know

If you’re involved in any aspect of education, from teaching to recruitment, then you’ll need to be aware of education law, and the areas it covers.

1. Education establishments are just accountable as other organisations, and need to adhere to rules and guidelines in the same way.

2. You’ll need to make sure that your school, college, university or other educational establishment complies with all the relevant laws and government policies. Having an education law expert to help you will make a big difference, and can ensure that you’re not acting illegally.

3. You’re probably used to dealing with suppliers for everything from catering and stationery to IT and the maintenance of the grounds. Are you using a specialist in education law to make sure that the contracts art legal, and that you’re getting the best deals and service?

4. Pupil discipline is becoming more of an issue in many schools. Although to may be tempting to introduce your own forms of punishment, you’ll need to make sure that you stay well within the law, to avoid possible disciplinary action yourself.

5. Some schools, colleges and universities receive charitable donations or funding. You’ll need to make sure that all the paperwork is in order that everything complies with the relevant charity laws.

6. If you’re involved in estate management for as school or college, then your job could entail buying or selling land, and hiring contractors. You’ll want to make sure that you get the best deals and service, and that agreements are adhered to minimize disruption to all concerned.

7. Although you work in education, construction, planning and environmental laws still apply. If you’re considering expanding your premises, or building new departments or adding additional facilities, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got the relevant planning permission and your plans don’t fall foul of any laws.

8. Employment law still applies, so you’ll want to make sure that there are no issues regarding bullying or harassment at work, or discrimination on any grounds. You’ll need to make sure that you’re up to date with all relevant guidelines and changes, so that you’re not acting illegally.

9. Your recruitment process will also be subjected to the same sort of laws as other industries. You might need to carry out additional checks too, so an education law expert can prove invaluable.

10. Health and Safety both at school, and on educational trips, is often mentioned in the media. No matter whether you think the rules and regulations are too strict, you still have to comply with them in order to protect your pupils and staff.

Now you know more about it, perhaps now is the time for an Education Law Expert to help you.

The Need for Cyber Law Research in Education

Cyber law in education is an issue that is ripe for scholarly research and analysis.  The importance of this topic is growing exponentially with the meteoric rise in social networking and other online forums which are becoming a primary source of interaction among school aged students. One result of these “virtual” relationships is a blurring of the lines of jurisdiction for disciplinary responsibility. At what point do a student’s actions fall outside of the authority of his or her school? When the student uses school equipment on school grounds the analysis is very clear, but case law has created a continuum that defies any objective definition of where that jurisdiction ends. Similarly, at what point does a teacher or administrator’s actions leave the authority of their employer and become protected by their right to privacy? The question of jurisdiction must be addressed before meaningful processes can be implemented to counteract the damage that online actions can have on the school system.

The harms that are caused at the hands of students through cyber actions include marring the reputation of teachers and administrators, harassing other students and threatening the security of testing and other educational information. Similarly, educators often cause harm through their own cyber actions by using online forums in an inappropriate manner to the detriment of their school or district. These actions may compromise the safety and morals of their students and affect the integrity of the educational system itself. Yet any restriction on these actions runs the risk of violating constitutional rights of free speech and privacy. Needless to say, there is a careful and ever-evolving balancing process that needs to be maintained in this area of law. And the decisions of our courts and enactments of our legislatures must be monitored and influenced by educators and education law experts.

The bullying laws that are springing up in local legislatures provide an excellent example of the issues at stake in this field. There is an important responsibility for governments to protect children from this new form of harassment. At the same time, however, in addition to the inevitable first amendment challenges, educators need to have a voice as to the practical limits on building level school personnel in implementing these new laws. These issues present a fascinating intersection of legal issues that will only become more relevant and topical in the decades to come. 

Research and analysis will be important in normalizing policy in the field. Ultimately statutory enactments and case decisions will  provide the law on these subjects.  However, these statutes and decisions are by no means immutable.  Like any other area of law, they evolve and change over time.  And these shifting principles are all the more prevalent in a field of law that is in its infancy such as this one.  There are no long-standing seminal court decisions on the topic, nor is there any conventional wisdom with respect to a proper statutory framework.  Therefore, in this field more than any other that I can think of within education law, there is a need for scholarly research and publication to help organize and shape the developing legal trends.