Duane Morris LLP education attorneys understand that the only constant is change, and that leading and adapting to change in the structure and contours of the education sector are essential to providing the highest levels of value and service to our clients. The Pre-K-12 team is part of Duane Morris LLP’s Education Industry Group, a nationally recognized industry group focused on the complex and ever-shifting legal, regulatory, business and policy needs of educational institutions and educational services providers (public, private and charter schools serving pre-K-12, career education, lifelong learning and corporate training). The group has the added distinction of having the support and resources of a full-service, international law firm to meet the diverse needs of our education industry clients.
The Duane Morris Pre-K-12 team attorneys focus on providing advice and counsel to innovators and sector leaders in early learning and K-12 education. The team’s access to attorneys across the globe give our group the capabilities to serve a wide range of pre-K-12 clients by working with them as thought leaders to devise innovative operational and policy solutions, litigating on their behalf in complex, high-stakes or mission-threatening disputes and representing them in financing, M&A and real estate transactions.
Our clients include individual private, virtual and charter schools and networks, charter and education management organizations, academic enrichment and education service providers, education reform organizations and education investors. The team is particularly adept at handling matters that implicate the heart of an institution or organization’s mission. The attorneys on the Pre-K-12 team ‒ many of whom have first-hand experience as general counsel, board members and executives within government agencies, commissions and schools ‒ bring their unique, inside perspective to every client matter. Led by an attorney who is well known in pre-K-12 school law arena, the team regularly handles matters relating to operations and governance of educational institutions and is particularly experienced in the areas of new school development, replication and expansion, teacher evaluation, credentialing and certification, public/private ventures, competency-based and personalized learning, virtual and online education, school finance, and parent and student civil rights.
Areas of Concentration
Operations and Governance. The team provides advice to school and network leaders, in-house counsel, C-suite executives, board members on mission-critical legal issues that arise amidst school operations and the delivery of services to educational institutions and school systems. Our lawyers develop governance documents, handbooks and policies, conduct investigations and reports, and advise clients on accreditation and authorization procedures and standards, government regulations, ordinances and policies.
New School Development, Replication and Expansion. Our attorneys have unparalleled experience advising clients seeking to grow. Whether looking to expand through replication of a school or program model, through increased enrollment or diversification of service or program delivery, the Pre-K-12 team attorneys help clients through the process from conception to opening by providing legal analysis of requirements, assessments of the regulatory environment and guidance on the steps necessary to secure approvals.
Teacher Evaluation, Credentialing and Certification. The team advises schools and education organizations on issues and disputes related to the recruitment, hiring and retention of teachers who meet the qualifications set by government agencies, authorizers and accreditation bodies. Our attorneys also have experience in the law on alternative teacher certification and teachers’ pensions.
Public/Private Ventures. The pre-K-12 attorneys represent various clients engaged in business with federal, state and local government entities. The team works with vendors and service providers to navigate complex procurement processes, initiate bid protests, resolve bidding disputes and negotiate government contracts and subcontractor agreements.
Competency-Based and Personalized Learning. Duane Morris attorneys have long represented innovators that operate schools with competency-based or personalized learning programs nationally and internationally. Our attorneys develop and draft policies and proposals and advise clients on the use of these instructional delivery systems. The team analyzes applicable law to understand the impact of graduation, credit and seat time requirements, compulsory attendance and other rules on a client’s ability to implement a competency-based or personalized learning model. We are also well-positioned to handle or assist in the litigation of claims arising out of a school’s use of this model.
Virtual and Online Education. Our team has advised numerous clients regarding the various legal and policy issues involved with operating a virtual school or online education model. Our attorneys have the requisite experience in the laws and regulations on seat-time requirements, virtual school funding formulas, licensing, cyber security, data privacy, student records and information governance to assist schools and organizations that deliver instruction virtually or provide educational technology solutions.
School Finance and M&A. The Pre-K-12 team has a wealth of experience negotiating public school funding agreement provisions as well as representing clients in school funding litigation. The team has also served as counsel to investors in schools on mergers, acquisitions, strategic alliances and similar business combinations. The firm has also counseled school networks and education service providers seeking to raise funds through bond revenue, venture capital, private equity and other equity or debt financings.
Parent and Student Civil Rights. Duane Morris attorneys regularly advise schools, school operators and education organizations on issues relating to parent and student civil rights and compliance with due process and other civil rights laws. When the laws designed to protect the civil rights of parents and students change, schools are expected to respond quickly to ensure compliance with the new rules. We assist clients in the preparation, review and updating of policies, procedures, handbooks and other guidance. The team is also well-equipped to conduct internal investigations and reviews, which in some instances are protected under attorney-client privilege, and to handle or assist with litigation raising civil rights or constitutional violations.
Duane Morris LLP Education Industry Team attorneys are distinguished by:
- Depth of knowledge and experience in education law, regulation and policy (federal, state, authorizer and accreditor) that impact the education sector in the United States
- Strong record on behalf of education clients before courts, federal and state regulatory agencies, accreditors, Congress and in board rooms
- An entrepreneurial and highly adaptive approach based on firsthand business experience
- Seasoned advice regarding policy, legal and regulatory trends that help clients address business risk proactively
- A multidisciplinary team that allows for sophisticated and multifaceted solutions
- A national footprint that serves clients across the country
- Extensive network of contacts deeply involved in education law, regulation and policy, and in school leadership across the country