Maintaining the public’s trust and confidence is of utmost importance to school district and community college boards and officials. It is only through securing and maintaining public trust that schools and colleges are able to focus on the fundamental work of teaching and learning and pursue projects to support the educational objectives.
For over 40 years, we have acted as trusted advisors to school districts and community colleges. We have provided counsel not only within specialized areas but also on overarching issues of governance and accountability. Our dedication to the work of school districts and community colleges and long history of advising boards and officials as trusted general counsel on sensitive governance issues provide us the wisdom and awareness to address every legal challenge.
The increasing challenges and scrutiny that school districts and governing boards face on issues of public governance and accountability, as well as our unparalleled and longstanding expertise on those very issues, led us to expand and reshape our governing boards practice to launch a legal specialty called BETA—Board Ethics, Transparency and Accountability—to encompass the full spectrum of accountability issues that boards and administrators face.
BETA brings together attorney experts who regularly advise school district boards and officials on the full scope of ethics and governance issues and who understand the nuances, intersections and interconnections of these issues as well as the important public functions these laws serve. For example, BETA issues may include:
- Brown Act requirements
- Parliamentary procedure
- California Public Records Act (CPRA) requests and disputes
- Conflicts of interest, including conflicts and disclosure under the Political Reform Act and Government Code section 1090
- Election procedures, campaign and informational activity
- California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) compliance
- Joint projects or agreements collaborating with other public agencies
- Complaint investigation and procedures
- Board policy and resolution development and revision
- Legislative or state agency action or approval, including special legislation
- Audits, grand jury and other “watchdog” proceedings
- Territory transfers and the district reorganization process
- Administrative agency investigation and enforcement proceedings
- Coordination of the functions of individual board members with the board as a unit
- Public relations
Governance issues are often sensitive and high profile, and we pride ourselves on providing boards with solid legal advice and the benefit of our depth of experience. We represent the interests of the full board as a decision-making body. When problems arise between board members, or when assistance is needed to navigate the relationship between the full board and the rights and conduct of individual members, we provide that legal support.
Our attorneys are aware of the intricate requirements that govern the work of boards, the interrelationship of applicable rules, and how issues in this area can be judged harshly in the court of public opinion. We help boards and officials not only stay in full compliance with these laws, but also accomplish the public’s business.