The CARES Act Carousel: States and LEAs Sue to Enjoin Implementation of Interim Final Rule Governing Distribution of COVID-19 Funds

By Kristopher L. Caudle

On July 7, 2020, several states and boards of education around the country filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of California challenging the U.S. Department of Education’s (“Department”) new Interim Final Rule (34 C.F.R. § 76.665) governing distribution of funds provided by Congress under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act).[1]

The CARES Act was enacted in March of 2020 to, among other things, provide emergency relief to states and local government entities, including Local Education Agencies (“LEAs”) impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act requires that LEAs receiving funds under the CARES Act provide equitable services “in the same manner” as provided under section 1117 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”).[2]

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Fight Hunger, Help Others in the COVID-19 Pandemic – Participate in the Legal Feeding Frenzy and Support Your Local Food Bank!

Michele Livingstone

Will Quick

By Michele Livingstone and Will Quick

We are in unprecedented times with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  It is now more important than ever that we help our neighbors and those who are not as fortunate. I am confident that each of you is doing your part.

Even in the best of times, however, over 1.5 Million North Carolinians struggle with hunger—of those, nearly half a million are children. With public schools and many religious and nonprofit organizations that traditionally serve the food insecure in our communities being closed for indefinite periods, and government leaders calling for social distancing to help limit the spread of Coronavirus, that need is never more pressing than now.

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2019 Legislative Summary – A Resource for Education Attorneys

By Brian Gwyn

The Legislative Analysis Division of the General Assembly has now published its annual Summaries of Substantive Ratified Legislation for 2019. This publication includes:

by subject area, summaries for the final edition of all substantive legislation of general applicability and certain local legislation having general import. The summaries are prepared by the nonpartisan legislative staff and do not constitute an official statement of legislative intent.

The summaries include session laws as well as ratified legislation. Chaptered session laws (i.e. SL 2019-51) have the force of law, but if the bill was only ratified, that means it passed both chambers of the General Assembly but did not receive approval of the Governor (and the Governor’s veto was not overridden).

Summaries can be viewed individually or together by subject area.

A link to the summaries specifically related to education may be found here.

What School Attorneys Need to Know about the New Senate Bill 199: An Act to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse (SL 2019-245)

By Patricia Robinson

The new Senate Bill 199, which was signed into law on November 7, 2019, has two provisions that all education attorneys need to be aware of: (1) a new requirement, effective December 1, 2019, that adults report potential violent or sexual offenses against child victims to law enforcement; and (2) a requirement that by January 1, 2020, LEAs adopt a child sexual abuse and sex trafficking training program for school personnel who work directly with students, with implementation of the training in the 2020-2021 school year.

New Mandatory Reporting Requirement (§ 14-318.6) 

SB 199 requires that “[a]ny person 18 years of age or older who knows or should have reasonably known that a juvenile has been or is the victim of a violent offense, sexual offense, or misdemeanor child abuse [must] immediately report the case of that juvenile to the appropriate local law enforcement agency.” “Juvenile” is defined as someone under 18 years of age who is not married, emancipated, or a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. For purposes of SB 199, the age of the juvenile at the time of the abuse or offense governs.

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Significant K-12 Legislation from the 2019 Long Session

By Brian Gwyn

This session, the General Assembly passed several bills that that will impact K-12 education. Here are some of the highlights:

A brief description of each of these laws is provided below. For more detailed information about each bill, you can go to the bill status page on the General Assembly’s website (see corresponding links). For summaries of the laws, click “View Available Bill Summaries” on the left side of the webpage. Be sure that you are looking at the most current summary under the “Last Updated” column. Please note that even the most current summary may not reflect the final version of the law.

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Message from the Chair of the Education Law Section – Welcome to the 2019-2020 Bar Year

By Melissa Michaud

Dear Members of the Education Law Section:

Welcome to the 2019-2020 bar year!  I look forward to working with you, our Council members, and committee chairs this year, and I want to thank our committee chairs for volunteering their time to invest in our Section.

As we start the year, please mark your calendar and consider the following opportunities:


  • The 2020 Education Law Section Annual Meeting and CLE will be held on Thursday, May 7, 2020.  Please note this is a date change from the original date.  The planning committee will be sending out a survey soon to learn more about what you are interested in covering at this year’s CLE.  Please participate so that our CLE will reflect your interests!
  • If you haven’t done so yet, please renew your NCBA membership soon.  As you may know, the NCBA has revised its due structure, and one of the benefits is access to a monthly on-demand CLE from the Expert Series.  Renew your membership now so that you can add the September CLE before it expires.  Information about membership renewal is available here.
  • Among other activities, our Section has committees for CLE planning, LIFT (Law Institute for Teachers), and legislative updates.  Our great committee chairs would welcome your help.  If you are interested in assisting with a committee, please let me know and I would be happy to connect you with the committee chair.  The full list of our committees and their respective chairs is available on our Section website.
  • Our Section will hold a networking event on Thursday, October 17 at 5:30 at Bonefish Grill Cary (2060 Renaissance Park Place, Cary).  Please mark your calendars, and I hope you’ll join us!

One of my goals this year is to make our Section’s activities responsive to your practice.  If you have ideas for the types of blog posts or networking events that would interest you, please do not hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

Melissa Michaud
NCBA Education Law Section 2019-2020

Education Section Honors Murphy

By Chelsea Sutton

N.C. School Boards Association Assistant Legal Counsel Janine Murphy won the Ann L. Majestic Distinguished Service Award on April 12 from the North Carolina Bar Association’s Education Law Section.

Allison Schafer, NCSBA legal counsel and director of policy, presented Murphy with the award at the section’s annual meeting held at the NC Bar Center in Cary.

NCSBA staff and Murphy’s family congratulate her as she receives the Ann L. Majestic Distinguished Service Award. Pictured from left: Rachel Vachon, Chad Anderson, Debbie Shinbara, Cynthia Moore, Chelsea Sutton, Jim Murphy, Janine Murphy, John Murphy, Allison Schafer, and Nancy Black.

“She is a great resource to everyone across the state — superintendents, board members, school attorneys, and to us in the association,” said Schafer, who received the award in 2008.

The Ann L. Majestic Distinguished Service Award honors individuals for their exceptional leadership in education law and is the namesake of a previous recipient who was known in the school law community both locally and nationally.

“We all remember Ann Majestic for her outstanding dedication to public education in North Carolina, so it was a great honor for me to receive this award,” said Murphy.

At NCSBA, Murphy plays a pivotal role in managing policy services and developing legal training, among many other duties. Prior to joining the association in 2007, she had a 22-year stint with the Principals’ Executive Program at her alma mater, the University of North Carolina, which provided executive training to public school administrators.

“I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to contribute to public education in North Carolina by working with school board members and school administrators for the past 30 years,” Murphy said.

Academic Freedom: Revival in the Fourth Circuit

By William Joseph Austin Jr.

In a case that was already topical, the Fourth Circuit recently rendered an opinion that renewed the concept of Academic Freedom as legal doctrine based in the First Amendment.

The case of Wood v. Arnold, 915 F.3d 308 (4th Cir. 2019), involved two statements concerning Islamic beliefs presented in a high school world history class.  The plaintiff argued that the statements endorsed Islam over Christianity and compelled her to profess belief in Islam.  The Fourth Circuit affirmed summary judgment against the plaintiff, holding that the statements did not impermissibly endorse Islam or compel the plaintiff to profess belief in it.

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Practicing Education Law in Changing Times

The NCBA Education Section proudly presents its annual CLE day on Friday, April 12 in Cary.  This year’s program is entitled “Change: How Cultural and Political Shifting Affects the Practice of Education Law.”  Click here to view the program brochure.

Click here to register.

North Carolina’s social and political environment looks very different than it did a few years ago.  Our students, teachers, professors, administrators, and legislators are all reacting to the new normal.  But how can (or should) education lawyers respond?  Can (or should) we keep doing what we have always done?

Join us on Friday to hear former UNC School of Law Dean Jack Boger give historical context to the current climate surrounding North Carolina’s public schools.  Leverage the expertise of colleagues on topics such as student and teacher walk-outs, escalating school violence, federal rule changes on sex discrimination, and more. We will round out the day by better understanding attorneys’ ethical obligations regarding the balance between impartial advice to clients and active participation on relevant societal issues.  Schwartz and Shaw’s Brian Shaw will then provide his always-popular case law update.

You may register for the program here.  Higher education and school law attorneys alike will benefit from a deeper dive into these fascinating topics.  And you will receive 6.0 hours of CLE credit.

Mark Your Calendars For LIFT March 22-23

In cooperation with the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), this program will explore the responsibilities and rights of educators in North Carolina. We also will examine laws regarding issues in education and explore laws that protect the rights of teachers, parents, students, administrators and school staff.

What: Project LIFT (Law Institute For Teachers)
When: March 22-23, 2019
Where: 276 NCCAT Drive, Cullowhee, NC 28723

Click here for application instructions and more info.

Questions? Please email Karen Sumner.