We work with community charter schools and charter management organizations to offer advice and guidance on the following issues:
Now more than ever, charter school clients may need assistance in accessing the capital markets to finance their expansion. Fox attorneys helped structure and close the first charter school bond financings to use publicly sold tax-exempt bonds in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and have closed several such financings since. We understand how to structure construction contracts so they comply with the Charter School Law, as well as how to best use new market tax credits as a financing vehicle.
Our attorneys provide general representation to the board of trustees of charter schools and can help develop and review school policies to ensure compliance with both the Charter School Law and federal tax law. Since board members are treated as public officials under the Charter School Law, it is critical to understand the duties and restrictions board members face. Our governance attorneys offer board training, succession planning and charter compliance audits.
Our team has extensive knowledge in the legal services needed to address the most important component of our client charter schools — the students. We provide guidance to charter schools in issues involving student discipline and expulsion; off-campus conduct; peer-to-peer issues such as harassment and cyber-bullying; and free speech, student searches, religion and other constitutional issues. We also provide counsel to ensure your school is in compliance with the various education-related statutes, such as Title IX, FERPA, ADA and §504.
Our team has also developed an acute awareness of the legal issues surrounding special education. We provide training and counseling to charter schools to help them deal with the practical and legal implications of different classroom techniques and Individual Education Programs (IEPs) as well as compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). We help our clients prepare appropriate education accommodations and discipline procedures to help prevent litigation before it begins so they can provide students with the working environments they need to succeed.
Real Estate/Zoning and Land Use
We assist charter schools in the acquisition of property , including negotiating agreements of sale, leases and loan documents. We also provide guidance in performing due diligence on potential properties, including reviewing title issues, inspection reports and environmental reports. In addition, we help obtain approvals from governmental agencies to use attained properties as charter schools. We have been involved in negotiating and financing the purchase of school buildings from the School District of Philadelphia and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, ensuring that our charter school clients offer students an appropriate environment in which to learn.
Labor and Employment
From human resources to union avoidance to due process issues, Fox Rothschild provides a full range labor and employment services to charter schools and offers timely, creative and aggressive advice and solutions that resolve — and even prevent — disputes and costly litigation . We work with clients on maintaining workforce flexibilities; employee handbooks; harassment, discrimination, discharge and hiring regulations; employment practices training; compliance with statutes such as HIPPA, ADA, FMLA, Affirmative Action requirements and applicable state charter school laws; and help handle disputes that arise with due process, speech, religion and other constitutional issues. We also counsel schools in best practices to maintain a pro-employee working environment, which minimizes the risk of a successful union organization drive.
Working closely with our litigation department , we offer seamless support for all charter school law concerns in state and federal courts, as well as before administrative bodies, with matters including arbitrations, due process hearings and federal OCR investigations. Through our guidance and compliance initiatives, we help charter schools avoid litigation before it occurs.