Education Law

At Sniffen & Spellman, P.A., we understand the complicated legal issues that impact Florida’s public and private educational institutions.  Our attorneys provide assistance to educational institutions in all areas of education law, including special education compliance and litigation, policy creation and training, civil rights litigation, Title IX compliance and litigation, student records, student discipline, tort/negligence litigation, collective bargaining/labor relations, administrative issues, and Federal Equal Access Act issues. Please click the arrows next to the practice area to access more information.

Special Education

Our Firm represents educational institutions and school districts in handling special education issues, including compliance and litigation.  The Firm’s attorneys have experience handling complicated issues arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other Florida and Federal laws.  We are fully prepared to assist educational institutions in the following areas:

ESE and disability-related policy creation and revisions (school board policies, students codes of conduct, university policies, etc.);
Student disciplinary proceedings and appeals;
IEP and Section 504 Plan advice;
Accommodation issues;
Attendance at IEP and Section 504 Team Meetings;
Behavior Manifestation Determinations;
Responding to advocates and student attorneys;
Responding to OCR complaints and investigations;
Defense in due process hearings; and
Defense in State and Federal courts.

Our attorneys have defended educational instutitions before the Florida Department of Education, the United States Office for Civil Rights, the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, Florida State Circuit Courts, and various Federal Courts.

Policy Creation and Training

Our Firm has experience assisting school districts and institutions of higher learning in creating and revising policies effecting the governance of the particular institution, students, staff, and faculty.  Additionally, we are available to provide training to staff and faculty on a wide range of legal issues.

Civil Rights Litigation

Educational institutions continue to face complex, contentious litigation arising under the United States Constitution.   Our Firm has extensive experience defending First Amendment and other Constitutional Law-based actions and understands the intense media scrutiny and pressure educational institutions endure.   Our attorneys have appeared in Federal and State Courts and have litigated against multiple national advocacy groups.

Additionally, educational institutions are commonly named as parties in Section 1983 actions involving allegations that official policies or customs have caused employees to violate another person’s constitutional rights.  Our Firm can provide representation to educational institutions in contentious Section 1983 actions.

Title IX Compliance and Litigation

Title IX continues to be a growing area of litigation involving educational institutions.  Our attorney have experience in assisting educational institutions through Title IX investigations.  If necessary, our attorneys are aptly prepared to defend educational institutions in litigation.

Student Records

Our Firm provides assistance to educational institutions on student records issues arising under the Florida Public Records Act (Chapter 119, Florida Statutes), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), the Florida Education Code, and other State and Federal laws.

Student Discipline

Our Firm represents educational institutions in student disciplinary investigations, due process challenges, hearings, and appeals.   Additionally, we are available to represent educational institutions in mediation and arbitration.

Collective Bargaining/Labor Relations

Our Firm represents educational institutions in National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) inquiries, collective bargaining with unions and union members, organizational campaigns and elections, grievances, unfair labor practices complaints, and arbitration proceedings.   Additionally, our attorneys are available to represent educational institutions in collective bargaining/labor proceedings before trial courts and the Florida Public Employees Relations Committee.

Tort/Negligence Litigation

Our Firm represents educational institutions in the defense of tort and negligence actions.  Specifically, we provide representation on issues pertaining to school bus accidents, premises liability, employment-related claims, corporal punishment, defamation, educational malpractice, assault and battery, negligent supervision, intentional torts, and common law negligence.

Administrative Issues

Our Firm represents educational institutions in administrative matters at the local, State, and Federal level.  Our representation includes informal resolutions of matters with staff, participation in rule-making proceedings and declaratory statements, administrative litigation, and appellate work.  We are also available to assist in contract solicitations, including the preparation of Invitations to Bid and Requests for Proposals.

Federal Equal Access Act Issues

The Federal Equal Access Act mandates equal access to extracurricular clubs in public secondary schools.   Our Firm has experience assisting school districts with compliance issues as well as defending school districts in Federal Equal Access Act litigation.