Thursday, December 8, 2011

Selecting a Charter School Attorney: Advice, Part 1

When I'm visiting charter schools I often get asked for advice. This includes everything from how to handle a particular situation, where to find specific information or how to improve school governance. There are some things I regularly repeat such as get good legal counsel with charter school experience. It's important to find an attorney with knowledge about education laws and charter schools specifically. But beyond that, you want someone who will be an advocate for your charter school and is willing to step in on your behalf. This is especially important when negotiating the charter contract, but it also applies to student discipline issues and disagreements with the authorizer.

Some charter school attorneys have strengths with particular issues such as Special Education, facility financing or negotiations. It's important for charter school leaders to check out attorneys before making a commitment to hire. In addition, get several recommendations from others within the charter school community before making a decision. People have different experiences with their legal counsel and so it's important to hear a variety of perspectives. This way you can make a decision based on what's best for your particular public charter school and your particular situation.
Note: This is the first of a new series I'll be doing about the standard advice I give to charter school leaders.

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