Education Law Conference Attracts Over 400 Attendees
‘Building Sustainability in Education’ Draws Crowds in Cerritos, Stockton and Fresno; Popular Sessions Address Workplace Aggression and Prop 47
Representing more than 400 school districts the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (AALRR) drew record attendance and praise for the recent 2011 Education Law Conference hosted at three locations which concluded last week.
“School administrators and legal counsel are facing sharper challenges than ever before and this annual conference helps them stay proactive on the most pressing issues,” according to James Baca, partner and chair of the Southern California Education Law Practice Group. AALRR started the Annual Education Law Conference in 2004 with approximately 130 attendees and it has now grown to over 400.
Nine sessions targeted issues ranging from construction to special education with personnel-related workshops as well. “Our decades of experience in this field have shown us how quickly the landscape changes for educators. Whether it is the latest in social media guidelines or addressing workplace aggression issues, we equip attendees with the tools and techniques needed to handle these issues,” says Partner Anthony De Marco. For De Marco, education law is a passion, having come from a family of educators. That insight was not lost on the audience, “It was like someone validating my thoughts on those issues,” one administrator commented.
Entitled ‘Building Sustainability in Education’, the conference featured presentations on key topics of concern for superintendents, directors, and board members who deal with the challenges facing California schools. These included new legislation, personnel matters, special education, facilities, governance, student services and school technology, among others.
“School districts are seeking solutions to relieve the financial pressures surrounding the construction and renovation of school facilities. The presentation ’Beyond the Basics of Surplus Property: Practical Answers to an Impractical Process‘ provided participants with insight into ways to generate funds from existing real property assets,” says firm Partner Constance Schwindt.
Prop 47 also raised questions about “eligible” projects. Partner Terry Tao, who handles construction litigation and represents contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, school districts and special districts says the most significant problem with Prop 47 is the local match requirement. “With the current economy, many districts have trouble raising the 40% for the modernization match and the 50% for the new construction match. The current state of regulations does not allow interim financing. This means that even if the district has raised its matching share a project is unlikely to start,” explains Tao.
Client education is a high priority for AALRR which allocates considerable resources for hundreds of training events throughout the year for multiple practice areas. “As our clients’ advisors we want them to have a full slate of resources that are timely, valuable and efficiently scaled to fit their schedules,” says Partner Andreas Chialtas, who presented on a few panels including the popular session, “Everything You Wanted to Ask Your Attorney About Facilities Related Issues.” Examples of private sector training sessions address new legislation, discrimination and sexual harassment.
Future conferences include the 2011 Employment Law Conference Webinar Series on Wage & Hour Requirements on November 29, 2011, the 2012 Employment Law Conference on March 29, 2012, and a 2012 Special Education Training Academy scheduled in February/March of 2012.