One of the great things about practicing education law is the abundance of free online resource. The list to your right provides a wide range of resources that will be helpful to attorneys in education law. From FAQs by teachers, to regulations on the DESE website, this list gives you a little bit of everything to get you started. If nothing else, these websites provide you a way to understand the terminology and acronyms heavily used in this field. When speaking with clients and other attorneys, knowing this lingo is vital to your practice. Not knowing the language of the field will make you appear uninformed and out of touch.
The Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA) has a great website with useful information for attorneys representing teachers. If you go to their legal resources tab from their main webpage, you will find on the right hand side a list of interesting topics. For instance, under their Americans with Disabilities Act section they address what a disability is, what employment practices are covered, what an employer must do for a disabled employee, along with information on reasonable accommodations. There is a section for new teachers explaining the legal ins and outs of teacher tenure and contract renewal. While none of the information on the website is legal advice, it is written by MSTA attorneys and is a great starting point for newly practicing attorneys, or attorneys that simply don’t know a lot about this area of the law. MNEA and other teacher organizations across the country have similar websites that can be helpful.
Moving away from the teacher’s side of things, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the US Department of Education have useful websites for navigating through various regulations. On DESE’s website, under School laws & Regulation, they list out and discuss a variety of regulations. Reading the information on their website, and similar agency websites is a free and easy way to obtain helpful information.
A less relevant but very interesting resource is the National Center for Education Statistics. This website provides demographics for most schools across the country, as well as funding and curriculum standards. There are surveys that have been conducted on teachers and school staff members, and random interesting facts about the public school system of the United States. While this is information is not likely to be relevant to a legal problem you may need to solve, it is good to know where you can turn if you find yourself in need of statistical data.
These websites also provide practical information to solve problems. As an attorney, you are the “go-to” person for many people when a problem arises. Even if there is no legal remedy available, you need to have suggestions on how your client can proceed to improve their situation. Having something beneficial to say is necessary to keep your client and maintain a good reputation.