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School Law Guide: Current Awareness Tools

Education Week

Education Week is published by a nonprofit organization out of Washington D.C. This source covers local, state, and national news on a variety of topics ranging from pre-school through 12th grade. Under the “topics” tab there is a section titled “Law and Courts”, which is particularly helpful for attorneys. Because this is a national publication it easily allows attorneys to see growing trends in the law. There are articles on affirmation action and desegregation, which is especially relevant to attorneys in the Kansas City area considering the desegregation court cases that have seemed never-ending in the last decade. There are also articles on internet access in schools, which is increasingly becoming an issue as schools across the country become more hi-tech.

Within most of the articles there are break-downs of relevant cases and where the law stands. Most of the articles are written by Mark Walsh, and are easy to read. Walsh has been covering legal issues in schools for almost twenty years, and is highly regarded in the field. Once you register for the database you are allowed to leave commentary and feedback, which is another useful tool.

Anybody is able to get onto the internet and read through a few articles in this database. However there is only a certain number of articles you can view before you are required to get a subscription. After using your “free allotment” you can register for free to get an additional 10 articles a month, and a free daily e-newsletter. A full subscription cost $60 for an entire year, making it one of the cheaper current awareness tools around. When registering you are given the option of selecting from a long list of other free e-newsletters on school law topics to help you stay informed. Along with the daily e-newsletter, articles are written online on an irregular basis. There is usually at least one article a week, but there is no set schedule. Not having a set publication schedule makes this database better. When something interesting comes up, it is written about.

In addition to the low cost, this is a great source because of the range of information it covers. In addition to a legal section, there are twenty other topics that would be useful to attorneys. From bullying, charter schools, federal policy, and No Child Left Behind, this source keeps people informed and up to date on what is taking place in schools across the country. As an attorney in the field it is important to stay connected with the non-legal side of the school system. Having a good sense of what is taking place in schools will help you connect with clients, who will likely be teachers, principals, students, parents, and others involved in schools.

Education Week Website

Education Law Prof Blog

The Education Law Prof Blog is a member of the law Professor Blogs Network, which is supported by Wolters Kluwer. The two editors of the blog are law professors, Derek Black at the University of South Carolina School of law, and LaJuana Davis at Samford University, Cumerland School of Law. While this blog does not have a set schedule, there are posts on it almost daily. Unlike Education Week, which focuses more on policy and the practical aspects of the school system, this blog is strictly academic. It provides critical analysis on recent court cases, and discusses how cases have changed a certain aspect of the law, and where the law might be headed. Seeing how it is run by two law professors, the academic nature of this blog comes as no surprise. This blog, in addition to other resources, is a great way to “round out” the current awareness tools an attorney follows.

This blog is free of charge, and only requires you to enter your name and e-mail address before commenting. There are few, if any, comments on most of the blog posts.

Education Law Prof Blog Website

Other Resources Worth Mentioning

Similar to the Education Law Prof Blog, The Ed Jurists is run by professors who teach education law in law schools and similar professions. This resource is less academic and more practical than the Education Law Prof Blog. While this is a good resource, it didn’t seem as user-friendly as the others, and offered less information.

The Ed Jurist Website

The Education Business Weekly focuses on the business side of the public education system. It provides insight from businesses and organizations that provide products and other services to educators. There is a lot of money in the public school system and for some attorneys it may be useful to track where it goes and how it is spent. One single user online access account costs $2,295 for a year. It can also be purchased for one year for one geographic location at $5,190. I would not recommend this resource to most education law attorneys. But if this type of information is particularly important to what you do it may be worth it. Further, I wanted to show that there are lots of secondary resources out there that focus on very specific fields within education law.

Education Business Weekly Website

Brigham Young University Education & Law Journal

There are only three education law journals in the United States, and this is the only one run by students totally dedicated to the field of education law. The journal covers the K-12 education school system, as well as higher education. The journal is published twice a year and includes publications from students as well as professionals around the country. With an oversight board of professionals from around the country, the journal offers a national prospective on many legal issues facing the education field. This journal is also a great source because unlike some resources on education law, this journal does not cover legal education. Some publications also include discussions on law school and the type of legal education future attorneys should receive, this journal does no such thing.

The most recent issue of the journal includes topics such as reporting child abuse by educators, impact of federal disability laws in charter schools, and reforming teacher collective bargaining rights. Obtaining one issue of the journal is twenty dollars, but a one year subscription is only thirty-two dollars. This price is very reasonable considering the content you receive. While this resource is more academic and potentially less practical on a day-to-day basis compared to other resources, it is a great way to round out the information you receive from current awareness tools.

BYU Website