School Law

School Law Attorneys

Experienced Counsel and Litigation for School Districts

  • Student Issues
  • Employment Law and Discrimination
  • School Board Matters
  • Labor Relations & Collective Bargaining
  • Special Education Issues
  • Bonding and Public Finance
  • Construction and Real Estate

The School Law Practice Group of Kennedy & Graven, Chartered recognizes the needs of school officials for dependable legal advice on a broad range of issues. We are sensitive to the fact that school administrators and school boards serve many constituencies - students and parents, teachers and district employees, and taxpayers. We provide creative, timely, cost-efficient legal solutions that balance the needs of the entire school community, while keeping the school district on solid legal footing.

Our attorneys represent school districts statewide in Minnesota and in several states, as general counsel or on particular projects. Our school law attorneys can knowledgeably address the diverse and complex issues your district faces. With decades of experience in school law, we bring integrity and historical perspective to today's problems.

Student Issues

Balancing the rights of individuals with the goals of the institution is a difficult task. At K & G, our attorneys advise school boards and administrators on a broad range of complex student issues. While our proven litigators can capably represent districts in court, we emphasize problem solving, training, and policy development:

  • Curriculum issues
  • Discrimination/harassment claims
  • Investigations of alleged wrong-doing
  • Student discipline and expulsion
  • Free speech and religious issues
  • Equal protection and other constitutional claims
  • School violence and safety
  • Data practices requests
  • Parental rights
  • Immigration and residency issues
  • Handbooks and policies

Our attorneys have experience in training school district staff, board members, and students in a broad range of legal issues affecting school districts. Our seminars provide both legal and practical information to provide for efficient operation, wise use of district resources, and safe learning environments.

Employment and Discrimination Law

Our school lawyers have extensive knowledge of the employment law and human resource issues unique to school districts. We provide the reliable counsel our clients need to comply with employment and discrimination laws and avoid lawsuits. Should litigation arise, our seasoned trial lawyers can capably defend your district's interests. We advise and help resolve conflicts regarding:

  • Employee discipline and discharge
  • Teacher tenure issues
  • Veterans’ Preference Act
  • Discrimination, sexual harassment, and civil rights claims
  • Due process and First Amendment issues
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Employee handbooks, policies, and procedures
  • EEOC claims
  • MDHR claims
  • OCR claims

School Board Matters

School boards and school districts are highly regulated by both state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. Our attorneys provide veteran counsel and representation in navigating these complex, ever-changing mandates.

  • Board policies
  • Open Meeting Law
  • Election issues
  • Data practices laws
  • Competitive bidding laws
  • Student and employee issues
  • Media relations
  • Contracts and business transactions
  • Individual board member liability
  • Risk management and insurance
  • Litigation
  • Communication with the public and the media by the board

Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining

Teacher’s unions have powerful representation. Our attorneys have the years of experience representing school districts in all phases of contract negotiations and labor disputes to address labor issues. We have experience with the following:

  • Collective bargaining agreements
  • Contract interpretation
  • Grievance proceedings and arbitration
  • Interest arbitration
  • Allegations of unfair labor practices
  • Bureau of Mediation Services matters
  • Strike plans and preparation
  • Litigation

Special Education Practice

Sometimes, schools face challenges to the appropriate provision of services to students with disabilities. At Kennedy & Graven, Chartered, our school law attorneys assist school officials in compliance, conflict resolution, and litigation avoidance. Our experienced special education lawyers provide training and pro-active counsel to find reasonable solutions in the areas of:

  • Due process hearings
  • State and federal court proceedings
  • Section 504 issues
  • State and federal complaint procedures
  • Mediation
  • Litigation

Bonding and Public Finance

We assist districts in all aspects of financing for operations and construction, including coordination of annual school levies and bond referendums. Our lawyers provide public finance services to more than 250 local government clients in Minnesota. Both the firm and our bond attorneys are listed in the Bond Buyer’s Municipal Marketplace (the "Red Book"), and we are among the top four firms in Minnesota in dollar volume of public bonds issued. Our services include:

  • Bond counsel
  • School finance advice
  • Lease purchase financing
  • Liaison with financial consultants
  • Coordination of issuer’s activities
  • Issuance of approving legal opinion
  • Election and referendum law

School Construction and Real Estate Law

Attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the complex legal issues are the hallmark of our approach to real estate matters on behalf of school districts and educational entities. We provide due diligence, negotiation, and review to protect district interests in all aspects of transactions and project management for new buildings, additions, renovations, and leases.

  • Land acquisition and development
  • Condemnation / eminent domain
  • Bidding (soliciting and awarding of bids)
  • Construction contracts
  • Financing
  • Property leasing
  • Joint powers agreements
  • Environmental and regulatory compliance
  • Title issues
  • Litigation

We invite you to call our Minneapolis office at 612-337-9300 or contact our attorneys directly:

Gregory S. Madsen
Shareholder
612-337-9305
Email
Maggie R. Wallner
Shareholder
612-337-9301
Email
Adam C. Wattenbarger
Associate
612-337-9306
Email

School - Public Finance

Jenny Boulton
Shareholder
612-337-9202
Email
Julie Eddington
Shareholder & President
612-337-9213
Email
Martha N. Ingram
Shareholder
612-337-9231
Email
Sofia E. Lykke
Associate
612-337-9283
Email

School - Real Estate

Sarah J. Sonsalla
Shareholder
612-337-9284
Email

School - General Business

James M. Strommen
Shareholder & Former President
612-337-9233
Email
James J. Thomson
Shareholder & Former President
612-337-9209
Email

Education - Construction

Peter G. Mikhail
Shareholder
612-337-9220
Email
James M. Strommen
Shareholder & Former President
612-337-9233
Email