New Law Authorizes Referral of Bullying Victims and Witnesses to School Counselor

September 2014
Number 56

Governor Brown recently signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1455, which authorizes a superintendent or principal to refer bullying victims and witnesses to various school support services. The law will apply to acts of bullying committed on or after January 1, 2015.

The Education Code currently allows the superintendent and principal to use alternatives to suspension and expulsion for students who commit various acts of misconduct, including bullying. These alternatives include referring the students to the school counselor, psychologist or social worker for case management and counseling. The Education Code does not currently authorize administrators to direct victims of bullying to these same support services.

AB 1455 adds section 48900.9 to the Education Code, which will essentially allow the superintendent or principal to provide the same types of services to victims of or witnesses to bullying as those offered to the students who commit bullying. Any student affected by bullying, as defined in Education Code section 48900, may be referred to the school counselor, nurse, social worker, or child welfare personnel for case management and counseling or for participation in a restorative justice program.

AB 1455 will provide administrators with additional options for supporting students who have been victims of or witnesses to bullying. California law requires school districts to have policies in place for addressing and investigating instances of bullying. Teachers and staff members are required to intervene to stop bullying if it is safe to do so. It is important to remember that bullying may include electronic conduct occurring both on and off campus. (See 2013 Lozano Smith Client News Brief No. 77.)

If you have further questions on the laws regarding bullying, please contact one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or download our Client News Brief App.

Written By

Sloan R. Simmons
Partner
Sacramento Office
ssimmons@lozanosmith.com

Jennifer Ulbrich
Associate
Walnut Creek Office
julbrich@lozanosmith.com

©2014 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

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CalSTRS Issues New Creditable Compensation Regulations – Impact Will Be Felt at Bargaining Table & in Administrator Contracts

September 2014
Number 55

The long-awaited CalSTRS creditable compensation regulations were adopted by the CalSTRS Board on September 4, 2014. The new regulations govern how CalSTRS will treat various forms of compensation for CalSTRS members who entered the system prior to January 1, 2013 (these members are usually referred to as “classic” or “2% at 60” members). The regulations take effect January 1, 2015.

The use of formal regulations to provide guidance on the treatment of compensation is a welcome change. In addition to other important provisions, the regulations clarify what forms of compensation are creditable (that is, what “counts” for purposes of retirement) by defining the parameters of “salary” or “remuneration in addition to salary.” The regulations also clearly identify types of compensation that will no longer be creditable to the system, such as allowances and cash in lieu of benefits. Additionally, for compensation that is creditable, the regulations direct whether it is to be credited to the Defined Benefit program, thereby increasing the monthly retirement allowance, or whether it should be credited to the member’s Defined Benefit Supplement account.

The new rules will have a far reaching impact for county offices of education, community colleges, and K-12 districts in two main arenas: the bargaining table and administrator contracts.

At the bargaining table, there may be tension between pension reforms applicable to new CalSTRS members and the compensation rules applied to classic members under the new regulations. Additionally, some types of compensation commonly used in the bargaining process, such as one-time off-schedule payments and cash in lieu of benefits, will need to be re-evaluated in light of the change in treatment under the regulations.

With regard to administrator contracts, shifts in the treatment of compensation by CalSTRS mean that all administrator contracts should be reviewed to determine whether any elements of compensation should be restructured to adapt to the provisions of the new regulations. Importantly, the new regulations provide the opportunity for a restructure of compensation prior to January 1, 2016. A proper restructure could allow non-creditable forms of compensation to become part of base salary. The regulations provide complex rules governing the restructure process, and both employers and administrators should clearly understand the benefits and risks of a restructure before moving forward.

To assist public employers in gaining a greater understanding of the regulations and subsequent implementation, Lozano Smith will be conducting a series of workshops at several locations throughout the state that will focus on the creditable compensation regulations, impacts on bargaining and the restructure process. The workshops will be applicable to all public education employers. Presenters will also address issues under pension reform, compensation rules under CalPERS and post-retirement employment rules for both classified staff and certificated/faculty employees.

For a schedule of these Lozano Smith workshops and locations, click here.

For a copy of the new creditable compensation regulations, click here.

If you have any questions about the new CalSTRS creditable compensation regulations or how retirement law governs public schools and their employees, please contact one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or download our Client News Brief App.

Written By

Michael Smith
Partner
Fresno Office
msmith@lozanosmith.com

Thomas Manniello
Partner
Monterey Office
tmanniello@lozanosmith.com

Ashley N. Emerzian
Associate
Fresno Office
aemerzian@lozanosmith.com

©2014 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

State Board of Education Amends Special Education Regulations Effective July 1, 2014

August 2014
Number 54

On July 1, 2014, amendments to the state special education regulations went into effect, found in title 5, sections 300-3088 of the California Code of Regulations. Many of the regulations had not been updated since December 1987. Since then, other sources of special education law, including the California Education Code, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the federal regulations to the IDEA, have been changed. The State Board of Education (SBE) amended the California regulations in an effort to better align them with statutes and regulations, remove redundant references contained elsewhere in the law, and to make the language more consistent.

For example, the SBE amended the regulations relevant to behavior interventions to account for the repeal of the Hughes Bill in 2013. The amended regulations remove the definitions of terms such as “behavioral emergency,” “behavioral intervention case manager,” “behavioral intervention plan” and “serious behavior problem.” The regulations also add a new section, section 3051.23, to set forth the necessary qualifications of personnel who may design, plan or implement behavioral interventions.

The updated regulations also now use the term “related services,” consistent with federal law, instead of “designated instruction and services,” and have updated requirements for the qualifications of service providers. For example, the regulations now specifically state that language and speech development and remediation may be provided by a speech-language pathology assistant under direct supervision of a speech-language pathologist (SLP), if it is specified in the IEP and if the SLP does not supervise more than two assistants. Additionally, the use of assistants may not be used to increase the applicable SLP caseload limits. The regulations also now provide a specific definition for “music therapy” services.

The SBE also revised the regulations defining special education eligibility criteria to align with the federal standards. For example, the definition for Specific Learning Disability (SLD) provides that in determining whether a child has an SLD, the school district may consider whether there is a severe discrepancy between ability and achievement, or may also find SLD if a child does not achieve adequately under the “response to intervention” or “pattern of strengths and weaknesses” models. School districts are not prohibited from using a “severe discrepancy” model. Rather, the state regulations now track the federal IDEA regulations, which provide that a state may not mandate the use of a severe discrepancy model, but must allow for a “response to intervention” process, and may allow the use of other methods in determining the existence of a SLD.

These are some of the key changes to the regulations. The SBE’s notice regarding the amended regulations, and more information about the changes to the regulations, are available here.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or download our Client News Brief App.

Other 2014 Back to School Client News Briefs

Reminder: The “Personal Belief” Exemption from Immunization Now Has New Requirements

Changes to the Laws Regarding Independent Study Go Into Effect Immediately

Annual Notice Requirements Modified for 2014-2015

Reminder: Minimum Wage in California Increased in 2014

Courts Intervene to Keep Charter Schools Operating Pending Appeals of Revocation Cases

Written By

Sarah L. Garcia
Senior Counsel
Walnut Creek Office
sgarcia@lozanosmith.com

Karin M. Anderson
Associate
San Diego Office
kanderson@lozanosmith.com

©2014 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Courts Intervene to Keep Charter Schools Operating Pending Appeals of Revocation Cases

August 2014
Number 53

Several charter schools have recently succeeded in convincing courts to intervene in the charter renewal and revocation process despite the fact that these charter schools have not exhausted their administrative appeals through county boards of education and the State Board of Education before seeking such court action. This trend could severely hamper a school district’s ability to oversee and revoke charter petitions when necessary.

For example, as reported in CNB No. 34, during the 2013-2014 school year three charter schools operating under the American Indian Model Schools (AIMS) charter organization had their charters revoked by the Oakland Unified School District for the alleged fiscal mismanagement of millions of dollars. While the district’s decision to revoke the charters was pending in the administrative appeals process, AIMS went to court and obtained a restraining order prohibiting the closure of the schools. AIMS ultimately convinced the court to overturn the district’s decision to revoke the charters because the district did not make the required findings of fact regarding academic achievement. All three AIMS schools currently remain open.

Similarly, the Los Angeles Unified School District decided not to renew the charters of two schools operated under the Magnolia Educational and Research Foundation (Magnolia) because Magnolia was alleged to be in financial dire straits. Magnolia sought, and obtained, a court’s temporary restraining order that has kept these schools open because the district’s decision not to renew was allegedly made improperly. This matter is still pending before the court. Like the situation with AIMS, the court inserted itself into the administrative appeals process before that process could run its course.

Lozano Smith is monitoring this trend and will continue to provide updates on the status of the law on charter petition revocation and renewal.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or download our Client News Brief App.

Other 2014 Back to School Client News Briefs

Reminder: The “Personal Belief” Exemption from Immunization Now Has New Requirements

Changes to the Laws Regarding Independent Study Go Into Effect Immediately

Annual Notice Requirements Modified for 2014-2015

Reminder: Minimum Wage in California Increased in 2014

State Board of Education Amends Special Education Regulations Effective July 1, 2014

Written By

Edward Sklar
Partner
Walnut Creek Office
esklar@lozanosmith.com

Manuel F. Martinez
Associate
Walnut Creek Office
mmartinez@lozanosmith.com

©2014 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Reminder: Minimum Wage in California Increased in 2014

August 2014
Number 52

Effective July 1, 2014, the minimum wage increased from $8.00 an hour to $9.00 an hour. The minimum wage will increase a second time on January 1, 2016 to $10.00 an hour. (Labor Code § 1182.12.) Due to this change in the law, local educational agencies should review their pay practices and ensure they are in compliance with all wage and hour laws.

Most California employees must be paid at least the state minimum wage. Accordingly, employers should examine their current pay practices and policies to evaluate if changes need to be made due to the minimum wage increase. The new law not only affects the base salaries of employees but will also affect overtime pay, meal and lodging credits, and exempt/nonexempt classifications. For example, the increase in the minimum wage impacts whether employees qualify for overtime exemptions for executive, administrative or professional employees (i.e. teachers or department heads). One requirement of the overtime exemption is that an employee receives a salary that is not less than two times the California minimum wage for full-time employment of 40 hours per week. Therefore, effective July 1, 2014, the minimum salary to qualify for an overtime exemption is $3,120 per month, or $37,440 annually.

Violations of the minimum wage law carry serious penalties for employers. Labor Code section 1199 provides that an employer that violates a minimum wage law order is guilty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of at least $100 or by imprisonment for 30 days, or by both. The employer could also be exposed to additional civil penalties. For example, nonexempt employees who are paid less than the minimum wage can file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office or can file a civil lawsuit to collect the difference between what they were paid and what they should have been paid at the new minimum wage.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or download our Client News Brief App.

Other 2014 Back to School Client News Briefs

Reminder: The “Personal Belief” Exemption from Immunization Now Has New Requirements

Changes to the Laws Regarding Independent Study Go Into Effect Immediately

Annual Notice Requirements Modified for 2014-2015

Courts Intervene to Keep Charter Schools Operating Pending Appeals of Revocation Cases

State Board of Education Amends Special Education Regulations Effective July 1, 2014

Written By

Jenell Van Bindsbergen
Senior Counsel
Fresno Office
jvanbindsbergen@lozanosmith.com

Amanda E. Ruiz
Associate
Fresno Office
aruiz@lozanosmith.com

©2014 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Annual Notice Requirements Modified for 2014-2015

August 2014
Number 51

California Education Code section 48980 requires school districts to annually notify parents of their rights and responsibilities with respect to a number of topics, such as prohibited discrimination, sexual harassment policies, uniform complaint procedures, and disciplinary rules. Additionally, Education Code section 48982 requires that parents or guardians sign and submit to the district an acknowledgement of receipt of the notice.

For the 2014-2015 school year, the Legislature has made changes to existing annual notifications and has added new notification requirements. The changes to existing requirements include providing information about religious exercises and instruction absences, immunizations, and uniform complaint procedures. Among the additional notice requirements, there are new topics such as release of directory information of homeless students and concussion and head injury notices for schools electing to offer athletic programs. Districts should ensure that they are meeting all of the current notification requirements.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or download our Client News Brief App.

Other 2014 Back to School Client News Briefs

Reminder: The “Personal Belief” Exemption from Immunization Now Has New Requirements

Changes to the Laws Regarding Independent Study Go Into Effect Immediately

Reminder: Minimum Wage in California Increased in 2014

Courts Intervene to Keep Charter Schools Operating Pending Appeals of Revocation Cases

State Board of Education Amends Special Education Regulations Effective July 1, 2014

Written By

Jenell Van Bindsbergen
Senior Counsel
Fresno Office
jvanbindsbergen@lozanosmith.com

Amanda E. Ruiz
Associate
Fresno Office
aruiz@lozanosmith.com

©2014 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Changes to the Laws Regarding Independent Study Go Into Effect Immediately

August 2014
Number 50

The laws regarding independent study, which are already complex, have been amended. These amendments have come through the recently passed education trailer bill, so many, but not all, go into effect immediately. Other amendments will become effective for the 2015-2016 school year.

Some of the immediate changes are to rules regarding calculation of maximum student-to-teacher ratios, allowing districts to collectively bargain alternative student-to-teacher ratios, and requirements regarding documenting time value of pupil work. Changes for the 2015-2016 school year will include a requirement that students and teachers communicate at least twice per month in-person, by telephone, or by any other live visual or audio connection to assess the student’s educational progress.

Participating school districts should be aware of their responsibility to ensure their independent study programs are in compliance with the law, as compliance is essential for receiving and retaining funding.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also visit our website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or download our Client News Brief App.

Other 2014 Back to School Client News Briefs

Reminder: The “Personal Belief” Exemption from Immunization Now Has New Requirements

Annual Notice Requirements Modified for 2014-2015

Reminder: Minimum Wage in California Increased in 2014

Courts Intervene to Keep Charter Schools Operating Pending Appeals of Revocation Cases

State Board of Education Amends Special Education Regulations Effective July 1, 2014

Written By

Edward Sklar
Partner
Walnut Creek Office
esklar@lozanosmith.com

Amanda E. Ruiz
Associate
Fresno Office
aruiz@lozanosmith.com

©2014 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.