COSA 2023 Spring School Law Seminar - March 30 - April 1

Registration Is Now Open!

Register Here

The COSA 2023 Spring School Law Seminar will provide school lawyers with timely, valuable resources to make the best decisions for their districts. Join your colleagues in Orlando!

Registration Fees

State Association Counsel  Complimentary 
Law Student  $95 
In-House Counsel $765
COSA Members $830


9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  COSA Workalike group meetings
• State School Boards Association Counsel
• In House Counsel 
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Early Bird Concurrent Sessions 
2:45 – 3:45 p.m.  Early Bird Concurrent Sessions
3:45 – 4:15 p.m.  Networking Reception
4:15 – 5:30 p.m.
Opening General Session with Keynote 

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.  General Session 1 
9:45 – 10:45 a.m.  General Session 2 
11 a.m. – Noon  General Session 3 
Noon – 1:15 p.m.
Lunch On Your Own 
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Concurrent Session 1 
2:40 – 3:40 p.m. Concurrent Session 2
3:50 – 4:50 p.m.  Concurrent Session 3
5 – 6 p.m.  Reception 

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.  General Session 1 
9:45 – 10:45 a.m.  General Session 2 
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
General Session 3


  • Thursday, March 30

    1:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Early Bird Concurrent Sessions 

    Mental Health Screening and Services for Students
    With new federal funding streams available to support student mental health needs post-pandemic, it’s time for a refresher on school districts’ legal obligations in this area. Has anything changed in our analysis of “child find” under Section 504 and IDEA? Is there a new baseline for “regular” education, now that mental health needs are front and center? An experienced school attorney reviews applicable caselaw and guidance.

    Presenter: David Garner, Osborn Maledon, Phoenix, AZ

    Employee Off-Duty Conduct – What is Protected?
    How far may — or must — school district employers go to address off-duty employee misconduct? Using real-world scenarios, our panel will discuss legal protections for employees that arise in several areas of law: Constitution and Policy; Collective Bargaining/Protected, Concerted Activity; and other statutory protections such as Title VII and the ADA.

    Panelists: Marc Terry, Mirick, O'Connell, DeMallie & Lougee, LLP, Westborough, MA; Gary Ruesch, Buelow Vetter Buikema Olson & Vliet, LLC, Waukesha, WI; Lynn Himes, Himes Petrarca & Fester, Chicago, IL

    2:45 – 3:45 p.m. | Early Bird Concurrent Sessions

    Outlawing Discomfort: Supporting Critical Thinking in Schools during the Anti-CRT Era
    Many states have introduced “anti-critical race theory” laws — even though CRT is rarely taught as such below the university level. This session will provide practical advice for advising school districts in applying these laws to the educational environment and highlight recent and notable challenges to these laws. We’ll apply applicable laws to real-world situations and explore realistic techniques for training staff in light of these statutes.

    Presenter: Ashley White, Thompson & Horton, Dallas, TX

    Employee Leave and Accommodation Requests
    Employee leave and accommodation requests hit a new high during the pandemic. Now, we see more and more complex requests that touch on medical concerns, mental health, disability, religion — sometimes all at the same time. In this session, we’ll review recent case law on accommodation requests and share insights about advising schools on this common issue.

    Presenter: Mary DeCamp, Bennett & DeCamp, Chattanooga, TN

    4:15 – 5:30 p.m. | Opening General Session with Keynote

    How this Supreme Court Has and Will Change School Law Forever
    Participate in a spirited and enlightening conversation about the culture wars playing out in U.S. schools, and how the decisions of the Supreme Court are shifting the Constitutional rules under which schools operate. Our wise and witty presenters share their insights on how the current Court is shaping law for years to come, and how that process informs our advice to school clients.

    Presenters: Nancy Krent, Past COSA Chair, adjunct faculty, IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law, Chicago, IL; Jay Worona, Past COSA Chair, Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel, New York State School Boards Association, Latham, NY

    Moderator: Francisco Negrón, Chief Legal Officer, National School Boards Association

  • Friday, March 31

    8:30 – 9:30 a.m. | General Session 1

    “Excuse Me, I’m Speaking” — But Can You? The Evolving Bounds of Student, Employee, and Citizen Speech in Public Schools
    A classroom assignment morphs into days of student protest and moving a building from in-person learning to e-learning. Parents enter school buildings and record students. A school’s social media page becomes the sparring ground for an entire school community. In this session, experienced school attorneys lead participants through a sticky scenario, providing insight and guidance regarding how the First Amendment directs schools to handle such events. The presenters also will discuss recent case law developments shaping how school board members interact with the public and each other by examining the Sixth Circuit’s ruling that a policy prohibiting “personally directed,” “abusive,” and “antagonistic” language at board meetings violated the First Amendment.

    Presenters: Chandler Lawson Flynn, Andrew Manna, Church Church Hittle & Antrim, Noblesville, IN

    9:45 – 10:45 a.m. | General Session 2

    Data Security in Schools: How to Protect Privacy, Prevent and Address Breaches, AND Support a Dynamic Digital Learning System
    K-12 institutions are attractive targets for cybercriminals, as schools possess a treasure trove of personal data that can be used to facilitate downstream financial crimes. Cybercriminals’ sophisticated intrusion and pressure tactics are constantly evolving; ransomware and other malicious cyberthreats are now pervasive. This session will provide (1) an overview of the latest threat tactics faced by K-12 institutions, (2) a summary of FERPA, COPPA, and state-specific privacy and data protection regulations and notice requirements, and (3) best practices to defend against attacks, while maintaining trust.

    Presenter: Ilya Smith, Clark Hill PLC, Detroit, MI; Jon L. Mills, Professor of Law, Dean Emeritus, Co-Director, Center of Governmental Responsibility, University of Florida Levin College of Law, Gainesville, FL

    11 a.m. – Noon | General Session 3

    Happy 50th, Section 504!
    Where have we been, and where are we going with Section 504? As Section 504 has evolved through case law, OCR decisions, and the like, what do we expect for Section 504’s impact on school districts and school attorneys in the 2020s? What will the pending regulatory changes bring? What do all school attorneys need to know about these changes? Participants will come away understanding the key trends in decisional law; being prepared for current expectations from OCR for school district decisions; and updated on recent regulatory proposals or changes.

    Presenter: Brandon Wright, Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller, Monticello, IL

    1:30 – 2:30 p.m. | Concurrent Session 1

    The Intersection of Title IX and Special Education
    At the intersection of Title IX and special education laws exists an emerging area of law. Counsel must understand compliance obligations under both sets of laws. Transgender students with disabilities, identified students with sexualized misconduct, and identified students who are involved in the Title IX disciplinary process present special issues. In this session, participants will become familiar with red flags in clients’ Title IX or Special Education process, and will discuss how to advise school clients on responding to disciplinary action involving students protected under each law. The session will analyze case law trends from around the country regarding the intersection of Title IX and Special Education.

    Presenter: Kalani Linnell, Raffaele Puppio, Media, PA

    Employee Religious Accommodation after Kennedy
    After the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Kennedy, when must an employee’s religious behavior and speech be accommodated? We know that a school district could not punish an employee “for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance” without students during downtime when other expression is allowed. In this session, we’ll discuss how to advise school districts on the accommodations that may be required and the limitations that are still allowed.

    Presenter: John Palmerini, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando, FL

    2:40 – 3:40 p.m. | Concurrent Session 2

    Top 10 Ways to Ensure Your School District Gets Sued for Violating Student Civil Rights
    Hate crimes and other racial and religious harassment have increased since 2016. OCR guidance and court rulings on civil rights issues affect how schools must respond to such incidents. Join us for an interactive review of recent litigation and regulatory trends, covering the whole gambit of students’ civil rights. Through case law and hypotheticals, attendees will learn practical strategies and best practices for responding to reports of students’ civil rights violations. Attendees also will identify common pitfalls to avoid when responding to complaints of student discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. We will analyze the scope of the district’s responsibility to ensure all students’ right to a safe and affirming school.

    Presenters: Rebecca Bailey, Holly McIntush, Thompson & Horton, Austin, TX

    Representing the Whole School Board After a Divisive Election: Moving from “I” to “We”
    What legal duties require a board to find common purpose in governing a school district, even after a contentious election? As school board elections become heated and political, the board’s duty to act as one unit remains. What is the scope of that duty, and how do you as a school district’s attorney help the board understand its legal duties and risks?

    Presenter: Kathy Dupuy-Bruno, School Board Attorney and General Counsel, School District of Lee County, Fort Myers, FL

    3:50 – 4:50 p.m. | Concurrent Session 3

    How to Guide School District Investigations into Allegations of Bullying, Harassment, Intimidation, and Hazing
    This session describes the process of resolving school disciplinary matters related to bullying, harassment, intimidation and hazing from the initial report through the resolution of the matter. The presentation focuses on the importance of being trauma informed, collecting data, and establishing tailored prevention efforts. Attendees will leave with a plan to help their districts implement best practices through appropriate policies, reporting mechanisms, investigations and prevention plans.

    Presenter: Betsy Smith, Institutional Compliance Solutions, Chattanooga, TN

    CAUTION! Retaliation Claims by Students and Employees in Schools
    Retaliation is a topic commonly discussed in the workplace; however, retaliation protections extend far beyond the office, including K-12 classrooms. This presentation will explore the laws that prohibit retaliation, how to mitigate the risk, best practices, and interactive hypotheticals regarding common scenarios involving retaliation in public schools. Participants will learn what retaliation is and what types of employee/student conduct are protected by anti-retaliation law, including federal law and the Office for Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s retaliation guidance. Participants will become familiar with real-world scenarios where retaliation claims have arisen involving K-12 schools and come away with practical tips for effectively advising clients on implementing anti-retaliation policies.

    Presenters: Aleksandra O. Rushing and John W. Borkowski, Husch Blackwell, St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL; Amanda Clapp, NEOLA

  • Saturday, April 1

    8:30 – 9:30 a.m. | General Session 1

    National School Law Update
    Chief Legal Officer Francisco Negrón presents the annual review of key developments in school law at the federal level. Don’t miss this perennially popular hour of updates, analysis, insider insights, and humor.

    Presenter: Francisco Negrón, Chief Legal Officer, National School Boards Association

    9:45 – 10:45 a.m. | General Session 2

    Tinkering Around in a Post-Mahanoy World: An Update on Student Free Speech Cases
    Join two experienced litigators of student free speech cases for a thorough review of post-Mahanoy rulings as we work towards a better understanding of the issues left open by the Mahanoy Court. We’ll identify emerging trends in student free speech cases post-Mahanoy and discern whether a test is evolving to determine when schools may discipline students for off-campus online speech that addresses the concerns of the Mahanoy Court.

    Presenter: Chris Gilbert, Stephanie Hamm, Thompson & Horton, Houston, TX 

    11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. | General Session 3

    Lawyering While Impaired: Ethically Negotiating Our Human Frailties
    Do our own impairments affect our ability to represent clients effectively? State legal ethics authorities across the country have issued opinions in recent years addressing lawyer “impairments,” including substance or alcohol abuse, personal or financial interests, religious or political biases, and mental or physical health challenges. How do we reconcile these limitations with our ethical obligations to clients? Our resident COSA ethics authority and former chair treats the audience to wit and wisdom on a difficult but timely ethics topic. (Mental Health/Ethics)

    Presenter: David Rubin, David B. Rubin, P.C./The Busch Law Group LLC, Metuchen, NJ


Seminar Information

  • Cancellations & Refunds

    Cancellations & Refunds for Registration will be accepted until February 17, 2023 with a full refund less a $150 processing fee.

    Registration Cancellations received on or after February 17, 2023 will not be refunded.

    No-shows will not receive a refund. All cancellation requests must be submitted in writing via the COSA SLS Registration & Hotel Support Center or via Fax: (415) 216-2535. Refunds will be processed within one week of request. NSBA is not responsible for airfare, hotel, or other costs incurred by participants in the event of program or registration cancellation.

  • Hotel

    Rosen Centre Hotel
    9840 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

    You must be registered for the conference before you can reserve housing. All reservations should be made prior to March 17, 2023. Room availability and conference rates cannot be guaranteed after this date.
  • Air Travel Discounts

    NSBA has negotiated special travel discounts with Delta Airlines for up to 10% off applicable tickets. Restrictions apply and not all classes of service apply for the discount.

    Orlando International Airport (MCO)
    (Distance from the Orange County Convention Center, 11.8 miles)

    Delta Airlines
    Meeting Event Code: NY23D
    Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. (CT)

    Click here to book your flight.

    *Please note there is not a service fee for reservations booked and ticketed via our reservation 800 number.
  • Safety Protocols & Requirements

    Proof of vaccination status or a negative test result is not required to attend NSBA events. Attendees who are not vaccinated are asked to take an at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen test before traveling to the event and should not attend if they test positive or have COVID-19 symptoms. NSBA does not require proof of these measures but encourages attendees to act responsibly and with consideration for the health and safety of others. Mask wearing is not required but strongly encouraged.

    Please note that these requirements are subject to change and may be modified at any time. We will continue to monitor and communicate COVID-19 developments as needed.