General Business Operations

question-marksiStock_000015706066_LargeIt has been over one month since Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate. Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration have already had a lot of impact on schools during the past month in office, including withdrawing Obama-Era Transgender Guidance and providing guidance on consolidated state plans related to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

However, one item on Secretary DeVos’ agenda that she has not accomplished—identifying a nominee for the important position of Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. This person ultimately would head the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), including its twelve offices nationwide.
Continue Reading Playing the Waiting Game: Trump Administration Has Yet to Nominate an Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

Friends doing the Tug of war - teamworkYesterday, the U.S. Senate, by a narrow vote of 51-50, confirmed President Trump’s nomination for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos.  Initially, the vote was a 50-50 tie.  All 48 Democratic Senators opposed the nomination, and two Republican Senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) who both sit on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined the opposition.  However, Vice President Michael Pence, as President of the Senate, came to DeVos’ rescue and cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of her nomination.  This was the first time a cabinet level nominee was confirmed by the vote of the Vice President.
Continue Reading VP Pence Swoops in to Break Tie in DeVos Confirmation

Definition: LegislationNewly elected Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has announced that K-12 education reform will be one of his top priorities.  He has called for more prudent use of public funds, and for a broader range of educational options for parents.  The Missouri General Assembly has answered the call with a slew of bills addressing everything from education savings accounts to technical certification programs in high-schools.  It is too soon to tell which, if any, of the bills will become law, but the sheer volume of “education reform” legislation moving through the process speaks volumes about the general assembly’s appetite for reform. Recent legislative activity includes:

  • Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery (R-Lamar), would create Education Savings Accounts for students with learning, development or physical disabilities.  Sen Emery presented a revised version during a hearing before the Senate Government Reform Committee which would include all students in Missouri.  Beginning on or after January 1, 2017, a taxpayer may make a qualifying contribution to an educational assistance organization and claim a tax credit. Educational assistance organizations must meet certain requirements.  The tax credit is capped at $25 million; funds are administered by the State Treasurer and distributed through education assistance programs that will award the funds to parents of qualified students through a debit account.  Many education groups voiced their oppositions to the measure citing lack of funding for the current foundation formula, lack of financial oversight of the schools receiving the funds, and lack of accountability.  Opponents testified schools receiving funds should be held to the same standards as public schools.

Continue Reading Missouri Governor Announces K-12 Education Reform as Top Priority

money-closeup122486570Amidst the flurry of post-election political news and speculation about K-12 education policy over the next four years, supporters of diverse public schools should not overlook two opportunities to garner federal financial support for their efforts. In its last months the Obama administration has set in motion two competitive grant programs designed to promote efforts to encourage racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse enrollments in public schools.
Continue Reading Parting Gifts to Proponents of Public Schools with Diverse Enrollments

Empty school classroom with blackboard for training. 3D renderinThe U.S. Department of Education recently released two reports spotlighting the achievements and challenges of its Office for Civil Rights (OCR). During an event with U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon the Department released two reports touting OCR’s achievements.  
Continue Reading Sunset of the Obama Administration and Dawn of the Trump Administration: OCR Complaints Skyrocket During 2016

cheerleadersWhat makes a cheerleading uniform, a cheerleading uniform? Stripes? Zigzags? What turns a person in a crop top and skirt into a recognizable cheerleader? These are the questions that the United States Supreme Court will likely address in Star Athletica LLC v. Varsity Brands Inc. (Case No. 15-866), which it granted certiorari on May 2, 2016.

The case started when Varsity Brands, Inc. (“Varsity”) believed that Star Athletica, LLC (“Star”) was selling cheerleading uniforms very similar to Varsity’s. Varsity has multiple copyrights on graphic designs that appear on its cheerleading uniforms and warm ups. Star, however, does not believe that the graphic designs for cheerleading uniforms can be protected under the Copyright Act.
Continue Reading Stripes and Zigzags: Supreme Court to Determine Copyrights on the Designs of Cheerleading Uniforms

Diverse OccupationsOn December 1, 2016, millions of American workers were expecting to become eligible for overtime pursuant to the new Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) overtime regulations enacted by the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”). Employers had prepared to put the new rules in place and some had even preemptively adjusted employee policies and salaries in anticipation of the new rules taking effect. However, on November 22, 2016, in a surprising ruling, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Texas blocked the new rules from taking effect by granting a nationwide preliminary injunction which was sought by 21 states and a number of business groups.
Continue Reading Hold Your Horses: Texas Judge Blocks New DOL Rule Regarding Overtime and Minimum Salaries