Training Helps School Board Navigate Complex Issues

Continuing education for school executives is important. Two school board members and two administrators attended the 2010 School Law Conference in Charlottesville on June 4 to learn more about properly responding to the legal complexities of managing a school district. The event was sponsored by the Virginia School Board Association.

The legal, technical and administrative challenges faced by school boards across the country are increasingly complex. Issues like student speech, the changing legal landscape and shifting budget revenues can be a full-time job for elected officials. Many elected school board members serve because of a sense of duty to their communities and aren’t fully prepared for the complexities involved with executing their public duties.

Logo image courtesy of Virginia School Board Association

School board decisions have can have significant legal implications that impact a school division for years. The 2010 School Law Conference offered legal guidance on several issues:

– Free Speech – The conference provided strategies for dealing with emotionally charged issues such as “free speech”.   Attendees reviewed a “real-life” example for dealing with the strains created by confederate flags (and how to win).

– Developments in Virginia’s charter school laws

– Legal requirements associated with Standards of Learning, Standards of Accreditation and Standards of Learning when funding levels cut

– Money saving procedures that do not sacrifice services to special education students

The VSBA provides school board members with services, training and advocacy for exercising effective leadership in public school governance. All of Virginia’s 134 local school boards are members of VSBA.

The 2010 School Law Conference training is particularly relevant to Clarke County Public Schools. In addition to budget challenges that have kept teacher salaries stagnant for three years, the Clarke County School Board is being sued by Berryville resident Kenneth Liggins over free speech issues stemming from a public meeting in which School Board Chairwoman Robina Bouffault objected to the content of Liggins’s statements.

The day-long training conference was attended by School Board members Barbara Lee (Pine Grove) and Janet Alger (Russell), CCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy and Director of Business Edward Breslauer.