Amanda E. Ruiz is Senior Counsel in Lozano Smith's Fresno office and co-chair of the firm's Special Education Practice Group. Ms. Ruiz represents school district clients, focusing on the Special Education, Students, Labor & Employment and Litigation practice areas. Ms. Ruiz assists clients with a wide-variety of Special Education and Student issues, such as expulsion proceedings, IEP meetings, settling cases at resolution sessions and mediations, due process hearings, as well as ensuring compliance with Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
In employment matters, Ms. Ruiz assists school districts with collective bargaining, employee discipline, grievances and arbitrations. She is a regular presenter on various labor and employment issues. Ms. Ruiz also advises clients in many areas of charter schools, including, drafting MOUs, oversight, and facility requests.
Ms. Ruiz has experience as a full-time staff attorney at a County Counsel's Office, where she counseled and represented the County in civil and criminal cases, including civil commitment proceedings, bench trials, and examination of witnesses. Her experience extends to the California Welfare and Institutions Code, California Evidence, Criminal, Probate, Family Law, and Civil Procedure. She has represented county departments of behavioral health, social services and agriculture, and assisted with research and drafting of documents related to a high-profile personnel matter and Public Employment Relations Board appeal.
During law school, Ms. Ruiz was a legal intern for the California Attorney General's Office, Criminal Division and the San Diego Public Defender. She also served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Charles S. Poochigian, California Court of Appeal. These experiences have given her deep experience in analytical and legal research and writing.
Ms. Ruiz earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
The California Legislature recently passed a new law aiming to promote student rights and safety by imposing limits on the use of behavioral restraints and seclusion in schools. Assembly Bill (AB) 2657, which prohibits the use of restraint or seclusion for any student except in specified circumstances, becomes effective on January 1, 2019.
Existing law limits the use of seclusion and restraints in schools for students with exceptional needs. Speci...
In J.M. v. Huntington Beach Union High School District (Mar. 6, 2017, No. S230510) ___ Cal.5th ___ 2017 [Cal. LEXIS 1609] < http://www.courts.ca.gov/ opinions/documents/S230510.PDF >, the California Supreme Court determined a high school football player was not entitled to court relief for his personal injury claim against a school district because he failed to strictly comply with the timelines spelled out in the California Government Claims Act (Act), often r...
The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) recently held that an employee union could bring claims alleging violations of the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) for a district's unreasonable delay in providing the union with requested negotiations information and for its blanket prohibition on the distribution of union literature in the workplace.
In this case, the Petaluma Federation of Teachers (PFT) filed an unfair practice charge with PERB Counse...
The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) recently held that a public school employer violated the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) by interfering with an employee's right to have union representation present during a meeting with her supervisor. (Capistrano Unified School District (2015) PERB Decision No. 2440.) In this case, the union alleged the district violated the employee's right to union representation by proceeding with the meeting despite th...
In Brason Lee v. Natomas Unified School District (February 25, 2015), 2015 U.S. Dist. Lexis 24253, the court determined that a school district may have unlawfully retaliated against a parent for advocating on his daughter's behalf regarding special education services by filing temporary restraining orders (TROs) against the parent.
This case started out as a dispute between the parent and the District regarding the school's psycho-educational assessment of the stud...
An employer's duty to engage in an interactive dialogue process and provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled employee was reaffirmed in a recent case, Swanson v. Morongo Unified School District (Nov. 26, 2014) 2014 Cal.App.Lexis 1183. In this case, which is relevant for school and municipal employers alike, the court of appeal held that a disabled employee could sue her employer for its refusal to reassign her as a reasonable accommodation.
Effective July 1, 2014, the minimum wage increased from $8.00 an hour to $9.00 an hour. The minimum wage will increase a second time on January 1, 2016 to $10.00 an hour. (Labor Code § 1182.12.) Due to this change in the law, local educational agencies should review their pay practices and ensure they are in compliance with all wage and hour laws.
Most California employees must be paid at least the state minimum wage. Accordingly, employers should examine the...
California Education Code section 48980 requires school districts to annually notify parents of their rights and responsibilities with respect to a number of topics, such as prohibited discrimination, sexual harassment policies, uniform complaint procedures, and disciplinary rules. Additionally, Education Code section 48982 requires that parents or guardians sign and submit to the district an acknowledgement of receipt of the notice.
For the 2014-2015 school year...
The laws regarding independent study, which are already complex, have been amended. These amendments have come through the recently passed education trailer bill, so many, but not all, go into effect immediately. Other amendments will become effective for the 2015-2016 school year.
Some of the immediate changes are to rules regarding calculation of maximum student-to-teacher ratios, allowing districts to collectively bargain alternative student-to-teacher ratios...
The California School Immunization Law (Health and Safety Code, sections 120325-120375) requires that children receive vaccinations against certain illnesses in order to enroll in school. However, the law allows parents to opt out of the vaccination requirement by filing a letter or affidavit indicating that immunizations are contrary to their personal beliefs. This "personal belief" exemption was modified in 2014.
Effective January 1, 2014, parents claiming a per...