Committees and Working Groups

Through its network of committees and working groups, COSA offers its members opportunities to contribute to its mission: to support school attorneys in their representation of public school boards by providing leadership in legal advocacy for public schools. Participants discuss evolving law and policy, draft and edit COSA publications, and advise on programming and membership efforts. Together, these active members help keep COSA resources and programming vital, relevant and up-to-date. Each year, the COSA Chair may establish, abolish, appoint the membership of, and appoint the chairperson of COSA committees and working groups.

Interested in Volunteering for a COSA Standing Committee or Working Group?

By volunteering to donate your time to serve on a COSA committee or working group, you help our organization thrive! Committee members agree to participate actively in 1-4 meetings per year, in person and by phone, and to follow up as necessary to support the committee’s work. Please note: as there are limited slots available in each committee, and great interest, the COSA chair selects committee members.

COSA Committees and Working Groups

Amicus Advocacy

The formation of this committee was approved by the COSA board at its April 2007 meeting. The committee assists in identifying significant school law cases on an appeals track; provides field input or legal expertise on specific cases to help inform NSBA Office of General Counsel legal advocacy work; assists OGC in finding pro bono counsel to draft NSBA briefs in specific cases; promotes NSBA amicus program services at state council meetings and other professional venues; and considers and recommends improvements to NSBA’s amicus program.

Baker Scholarship Award

This committee is charged with reviewing applications and selecting a COSA member to receive the annual scholarship in honor of Patricia E. Baker. The award application is posted on the COSA website in July, with a deadline in September. The committee meets by conference call in September to select the recipient. The scholarship recipient is announced through COSA communication channels. He or she receives a complimentary registration and travel expenses to attend either the fall School Law Practice Seminar or the spring School Law Seminar.

Content (formerly Webinars and other Content Delivery)

As part of the mission-oriented reassessment undertaken by the 2012-2013 COSA Chair, it was recommended that this committee pursue a new focus: i.e., how does COSA effectively deliver content and web-based services in the future given the ongoing changes in technology? What information do members want, and how do they want to receive it? How can we become “the” intelligence source for school attorneys? How do we deliver content and continue to find better ways to get legal content to State Association members and COSA members/non-members in a way they can use it? This committee has since focused on looking at the big picture of COSA’s content-delivery approach, surveying members when needed.

COSA Awards

This committee was initiated in April 2003 and is to be appointed annually for terms not to exceed three (3) consecutive years. At present, committee members sit for one year. The committee reviews annual nominees for the COSA Distinguished Service Award and periodic nominations for the COSA Lifetime Achievement Award. NSBA staff places a call for nominations, with applications due by October 1, and compiles the nomination materials for the committee. Committee members review the materials, and the committee meets by conference call or in person during the fall to select a person(s) to receive the award(s). Awards are presented at the next Annual Business Meeting of the Council at the spring School Law Seminar.

Data Privacy Working Group

The COSA working group on data privacy includes members interested in and informed on data privacy issues associated with online educational tools. The group holds meetings via conference call to discuss and advise COSA staff on “on-the-ground” issues arising in this area, and produces resources for COSA members.

IDEA Reauthorization Working Group

Initiated by Jim Keith in San Francisco in April 2011, this working group made up of special education experts and litigators holds monthly conference calls to discuss if/how the IDEA statute should change when it is reauthorized. The group drafts recommendations for changes to present to NSBA constituencies, and eventually Congress. A number of sub-groups arise in this Working Group as work is needed on specific topics or issues.

In House Counsel

Since it was formed in 2008, this committee has expanded its services to in house counsel members to include periodic conference calls on topics of interest as well as programming for networking meetings during the fall and spring seminars. In 2014, NSBA provided the In House Counsel segment of the COSA membership a separate online discussion group in NSBA Connect. The discussion group is one source of input for the committee on topics and programming of interest to in house counsel members.

The committee is charged with encouraging in house counsel to join COSA, facilitating networking among in house counsel, determining the needs of in house attorneys and recommending to COSA ways of meeting those needs, programming networking meetings, and recommending other functions/events for in house counsel that would facilitate networking.

Labor Relations

This committee was originally formed as an ad hoc committee to assess the need for labor relations programming and to make recommendations to COSA. In 2009, the committee was made a standing committee and now brings labor programming to practitioners during COSA meetings and monitors the needs of labor attorneys through surveys and committee discussions. Labor programming may include sessions at the fall or spring School Law Seminars, webinars, conference calls, and other events.

Membership Development (formerly State Outreach)

The purpose and mission of this committee has been reassessed in recent years in an effort to create a long-term strategy for the Board’s role in membership development and recruitment. Recognizing that the work of every committee is geared toward attracting and maintaining members by serving them well, this committee focuses on expanding membership and enhancing the member experience. This effort will include outreach to state-level groups in the form of obtaining feedback on COSA resources and services, online or in-person presentations about COSA benefits and federal school law happenings to state school attorneys’ groups, and assistance with forming and sustaining affiliated state councils.

NSBA Advocacy Advisory Group

Consistent with NSBA's renewed focus on promoting and defending public education, this committee lends support to NSBA advocacy efforts. The group will explore how to capitalize on the expertise of school attorneys as on-the-ground experts who can inform and illustrate why NSBA advocacy positions -- whether legislative, legal, or public -- benefit public education. Committee members will consult with NSBA staff as issues arise, and will develop a system of identifying COSA members who can advise and consult on specific issues.

New to the Practice Advisory Group

At its fall 2012 planning meeting held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the COSA Board of Directors reached consensus that the needs and interests of attorneys new to the practice of school law should be addressed more formally. It was suggested that a committee or advisory group be formed to allow the voices of new school attorneys to be heard, so that the Council could develop programming and membership appeals targeted to this group. As currently conceived, this advisory group is open to any COSA member who has practiced school law for seven or less years. The group meets 1-4 times per year via conference call to discuss programming and content needs of new school attorneys. The group can also serve as a source of new talent, to be tapped for presentations, and possible board membership.


The Nominating Committee recommends candidates for officer and director positions. The COSA staff issues a call for nominations on behalf of the committee chair online in the fall, providing a January deadline for receipt of nominations. COSA staff compiles candidate application materials and distributes them to the committee. Committee members review the candidate materials in preparation for the committee meeting. The committee meets by conference call in mid-to-late January for 1-2 hours to review the nominations and select candidates to be recommended to the membership at COSA’s Annual Business Meeting held each spring during the School Law Seminar. Committee members also may bring nominees to the attention of the committee. The slate of nominees is published on the NSBA/COSA web site. At the Business Meeting, the committee chair makes the Nominating Committee report to the membership and conducts the election.

School Law Practice Seminar

The School Law Practice Seminar Committee develops the program for the School Law Practice Seminar held each fall. Traditionally, the Practice Seminar is held in October. The 2017 Seminar is to be held in Chicago, IL.

The committee may, at the discretion of the chair, meet in early January to discuss themes, approaches, topics, or events for the Seminar. Staff then creates the written materials accompanying the call for proposals to reflect the committee’s priorities. Staff issues the call for proposals via the COSA website in late January, and compiles and charts proposals received for the committee.

Committee members review the submitted proposals and meet via conference call in the late winter/early spring to discuss them. Depending on the seminar dates each year, staff either promotes the Call for Proposals, or a preliminary outline of the fall program at the spring School Law Seminar. Committee members may be asked to follow up with state contacts to vet or suggest additional presenters. The fall program normally is completed by early May to allow staff to create marketing material and a registration website. The committee also works with the COSA staff to promote each seminar and ensure its success.

As with the School Law Seminar, COSA staff is responsible for seminar logistics including site selection, meeting room arrangements, hospitality requirements, promotion, registration, on-site management and faculty travel. Faculty are required to use NSBA's travel agent if NSBA will pay their travel. Normally airfare and a comp registration is paid for one faculty member per session. The COSA director makes this determination based on COSA’s budget. Committee members may have assignments to preside as hosts at seminar sessions.

School Law Seminar

The School Law Seminar Committee develops the program for the School Law Seminar held in conjunction with NSBA’s Annual Conference in March or April (San Antonio in 2018). At the discretion of the committee chair, the committee can meet in April or early May to discuss desired themes, approaches, topics, or events for the Seminar. Seminar evaluation results from previous years provide useful information for selecting topics and faculty for the seminar. Staff then develops and issues a call for proposals in May or June via the COSA website.

Staff prepares the submitted proposals and compiles a chart for use by the committee members, who review each proposal in detail. The committee meets in late June via conference call to discuss the proposals and design the program. Committee members may be asked to follow up with their state contacts to vet presenters. Once the program is determined, COSA staff invites the seminar faculty. This process is normally completed by early July so that speakers can be finalized by mid-August and marketing material and a registration website can be developed by COSA and NSBA.

The Vice-chair, Secretary and other Board or committee members normally preside as hosts at each School Law Seminar session. NSBA staff contact faculty members, as needed, to encourage quality written material and to discuss seminar topics. During the seminar, NSBA staff has responsibility for logistics and registration and assists the committee with operation of the program.

NSBA assumes all administrative responsibilities for conducting the seminar. Faculty are required to use NSBA's travel agent if NSBA will pay their travel. Normally airfare is paid for one faculty member per session. The COSA director makes this determination based on COSA’s budget.

The COSA Chair serves as ex officio to this committee; he/she receives full travel reimbursement by NSBA to attend the NSBA Annual Conference because he/she holds an ex officio position on NSBA Board for the year. It is COSA’s policy that a travel supplement be paid to the COSA Chair-elect, but that expenses are not paid for officers and other hosting board members for presiding at the School Law Seminar.

State Association Counsel Programming

The State Association Counsel Committee meets by conference call to develop the program and select discussion leaders for the annual meetings of state counsel held just prior to the School Law Seminar and the fall School Law Practice Seminar. An e-mail discussion group for state counsel is hosted by NSBA on NSBA Connect. The committee also may from time to time advise NSBA/COSA on other services that may be helpful to state association counsel such as topics for webinars, resources for their meetings, etc.

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