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October 28, 2021, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm EST

Independent School Legal Update – Free Half Day Virtual Session


On October 28, 2021, McLane Middleton’s Education Law Group will provide a free, virtual legal update for independent schools. As part of the half day session, attendees will receive practical strategies for managing risk from experienced practitioners who advise numerous independent schools on a daily basis.

This program is recommended for Heads of School, Senior Leadership, Business Officers, Deans of Students, and Deans of Faculty.

Session Descriptions

Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policies Before and After Title IX

Independent schools used to think that Title IX (the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination) did not apply to them…The pandemic and the PPP loans changed all of that. But with those loans now largely forgiven, what practices covering sexual harassment and misconduct from a brief period of Title IX compliance should remain in place? In this session, we will examine the various ways in which schools are addressing student and employee sexual misconduct then and now, including notice of complaints, investigations, and managing discipline.

Effective Approaches for Dealing with Hostile Parents

Dealing with hostile parents is nothing new for independent schools. And yet, such occurrences have become increasingly common in recent times, particularly as schools face new frontiers of the culture wars, including DEI, gender issues, and COVID-19 safety protocols. In this session, we will examine various approaches and strategies for dealing with difficult parents, including, but not limited to, what language to incorporate in foundational documents, how to establish and enforce ongoing expectations, and how to effectively transition out hostile families.

Crossing the Line: What Is Your School’s Philosophy Regarding Oversight of Off-Campus Conduct?

Does your school discipline students for conduct off-campus? Or on the weekends? Or over the summer? Should it? The recent Supreme Court of the United States decision in Mahanoy Area School District—though technically applicable only to public schools—has sparked debate within the independent school community regarding whether schools should be policing students’ off-campus activity. In this session, we will analyze the various approaches schools can take in confronting and handling student conduct beyond the bounds of a school’s campus, including whether such jurisdiction should be mandatory or discretionary.

Reporting Student Discipline: Evolving Expectations and How to Manage the Process

The reporting of serious student discipline to colleges and next schools can be a fraught situation for students, families, and independent schools. And now, increasingly, families are lawyering up to challenge any mention of discipline during an application process. Combined with the Common App’s decision to remove questions about discipline, how should independent schools tactfully handle communications about a student’s record of misconduct? In this session, we will review case studies and offer practical (and legal) advice for how to manage the application and discipline reporting process.

COVID-19 Update: How to Manage Vaccinations for the Winter

Despite being over eighteen months into the pandemic, many schools are still grappling with their role in managing student and employee safety, particularly with respect to the COVID-19 vaccine. This issue will continue to evolve as the vaccine becomes increasingly available for school-age children and as local and federal governments enact new legislation and guidance. In this session, we will cover the latest developments as well as practical steps for how schools can comply with student and employee vaccination requirements and guidance. We will also discuss requests for exemption or accommodation; updates to policies and health forms, and student, parent, and employee vaccine hesitancy.


Linda Johnson

Director, McLane Middleton, Co-Chair of the firm’s Education Law Group

Linda focuses her practice on understanding and serving the needs of K-12 independent schools. She serves as outside legal counsel and a consultant to many of the country’s top independent day and boarding schools. She advises her clients on all aspects of school operations including employment law, student discipline, contracts, fiduciary and tort law, leadership development, investigations, compliance audits, risk management, crisis response, and student safety. Linda consults with schools on both prevention and response to all types of educator misconduct and student on student sexual assaults.

David Wolowitz

Director, McLane Middleton, Co-Chair of the firm’s Education Law Group

David advises independent schools nationwide and internationally on all aspects of risk prevention and crisis response, with a focus on promoting healthy relationships through the management and oversight of a healthy school culture. He is a pioneer in applying behavioral risk management concepts, including training on healthy teacher – student boundaries and the establishment of standards of conduct, to promote safe school cultures. He believes that risk management practices should reinforce, not interfere with, good teaching and an environment conducive to learning.

Susan E. Schorr

Of Counsel, McLane Middleton, Vice Chair of the firm’s Education Law Group

Susan focuses her practice on education and employment, helping clients with general risk management, real-time problem solving, and crisis management. Grounded in thorough legal analysis, she offers practical advice and responsiveness. With a background as a social worker, public administrator, and a trustee of non-profit organizations herself, Susan approaches client challenges with an ability to integrate a variety of problem-solving frameworks, helping clients to arrive at practical solutions.

Brian B. Garrett, Of Counsel, McLane Middleton

Brian has extensive experience in a broad range of education, employment, and complex commercial litigation matters throughout the country, including in state and federal courts, in alternative resolution processes, and before various administrative agencies. Brian focuses his practice on understanding and serving the needs of independent day and boarding schools, colleges and universities, and early child care programs. Brian partners with many of the country’s leading independent schools to provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of school operations, including establishing new schools, student and parent issues, employment matters, school governance and leadership, and general risk management. He works closely with board chairs, heads of schools, financial officers, and other senior leadership members in tackling complex matters affecting school communities.