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K-12 Education

For more than a century, we have represented Ohio school districts as bond counsel and in connection with labor and employment, special education and other school law issues. With more than 25 members in our K-12 school law team, our lawyers routinely represent more than 200 Ohio school districts to provide sound and practical advice on school finance, school construction projects, student services and labor and employment matters.

Public Finance and Construction

We draw upon our depth of knowledge and experience in public finance, tax, and construction law to assist school districts with a wide variety of complex issues, including the following key focus areas:

  • Voted and un-voted general obligation bonds and notes
  • Certificates of participation lease-purchase financings
  • HB 264 energy conservation improvement financings
  • Equipment lease-purchase financings
  • Tax anticipation notes
  • Bond issue and tax levy proceedings
  • Original and continuing disclosure as required by SEC rules
  • Post issuance compliance with federal income tax requirements
  • Accounting and audit issues
  • Construction procurement and construction litigation
  • Real estate

Labor, Employment and Education

The expanse of our labor, employment and education team enables us to guide districts through a full spectrum of legal issues, giving due consideration to how decisions impact students, staff and the community at large. Our expertise includes:  

  • Collective bargaining
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Employment matters
  • Student discipline
  • Tuition/residency issues
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Transgender issues
  • Special education matters
  • Employee benefits and federal income tax matters
  • Deferred compensation plans
  • Payroll tax withholding matters
  • ACA requirements
  • Free speech and other First Amendment matters
  • Legislation
  • Open meetings, public records and ethics issues
  • Copyright and intellectual property
  • Environmental law
  • STRS and SERS contributions and benefit issues

Public Finance

Our services as bond counsel in connection with financings include:

  • Legal advice in the planning and structuring of a bond issue
  • Assistance with the preparation the school district’s official statement for your bond issue and the presentation to the rating agency or agencies – we use our experience, local knowledge and approach to both hasten this process and significantly lessen the burden that otherwise falls on the school district’s staff.
  • Preparation of all resolutions, agreements and other documents and proceedings for the completion of your bond issue, while providing explanations of the purpose and import of each as the transaction progresses
  • Advising on issuance of bonds in compliance with federal tax law so that the interest received by the bond purchasers is exempt from federal income taxation, and rendering our legal opinion at closing to the effect that the bonds are legal and valid obligations under Ohio law
  • Guidance at the closing for post-issuance compliance with federal tax law, including compliance with rebate matters – Our public finance tax lawyers are also experienced guiding and advising on IRS post issuance reviews of bond issues should you become subject to one of these audits
  • Assistance with post-issuance compliance with continuing disclosure under federal securities laws, including routine annual filings and filings in connection with material events, and advice in connection with possible self-reporting by the district and/or underwriters of the district’s bond issues under the MCDC Initiative recently announced by the Securities Exchange Commission

We have been a leader in developing new and creative financing approaches, including:

  • Cooperative programs leveraging municipal income tax (Akron) and county sales tax (Medina) revenues to finance school facilities construction
  • Early advice regarding and implementation of stimulus bond programs, such as:
    • Qualified school construction bonds
    • Build America bonds
    • Qualified zone academy bonds
    • Development and continuing refinement of lease/certificates of participation financing structures, including creation of a non-profit leasing entity to facilitate these financings
    • Use of “new community authorities” for funding of school facilities
    • Development of new tax levy approaches tailored to specific circumstances

Labor and Employment

  • Negotiating the first comprehensive merit pay differentiated compensation contract in Northeast Ohio
  • Bargaining alternative teacher salary schedules – we have helped clients move from longevity to performance-based pay structures.
  • Receiving a first-of-its-kind order from the Ohio State Employment Relations board deeming a contract accepted due to irregularities in how a vote was conducted
  • Working with multiple school districts on resolving complex transgender issues
  • Conducting a high-level, criminal investigation of administrative personnel – by leveraging our white collar team in Washington DC, we bring a level of expertise and perspective that cannot be matched in Ohio
  • Often-complicated hearings with regard to special education – our track record shows how important our clients’ cases are to us; we have often been able to accomplish even better results than our clients are expecting based on our experience at all levels of the procedural and litigation process
  • Advocating for and representing clients pursuing termination proceedings – during this complex process, we work hard with our clients to resolve the issue short of a hearing. However, if the termination process is required, we have a successful track record with those proceedings
  • Various strategies and methods of bargaining, from traditional to much more creative versions of interest-based bargaining, we have encompassed the full range of bargaining approaches possible for our clients – our clients’ relationships with their employees and goals of the Boards determine the strategy we employ
  • Working with clients with issues needing addressed through legislation – we have the ability to marshal resources through our highly connected Ohio-based government relations team to produce comprehensive legislative reform in Columbus and Washington DC

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  • Sue Hastings is recognized as Best Lawyers 2016 Lawyer of the Year for Education Law – Cleveland 
  • Ranked Top 10 in Ohio as Bond Counsel for more than 20 years
  • Ranked 1st in the US for Public Finance Law by U.S. News – Best Lawyers Best Law Firms rankings for 2014 and 2015