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Sloan R. Simmons

Partner | Sacramento

Attorney Insights
Tel: 916.329.7433
Fax: 916.329.9050
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Sloan R. Simmons is a Partner in Lozano Smith's Sacramento office and co-chair of the firm's Litigation Practice Group. His areas of expertise are civil rights and all forms of school district and public agency trial court litigation and appeals, as well as student issues. Mr. Simmons’ years of experience on student issues for school districts of all sizes and in all regions of the state has resulted in his expertise in nearly all student related matters.

Presenter Experience

Mr. Simmons has presented on the intersection of student free speech and other constitutional and statutory rights, discipline, and the technology and several other issues before the California School Boards Association (CSBA), Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), California Small School Districts' Association (SSDA), California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance (CASCWA), and the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA).


Mr. Simmons' article "Disciplining Students for E-Communications" was published in the Daily Journal in January 2010. His February and March 2012 articles "What's Next in ACLU's Student Fee Case" and "Cancer Awareness Slogans Pose Tough Challenges for Schools," were also published in the Daily Journal.


Mr. Simmons earned his J.D. from the University of California, Davis, School of Law, and his B.A. (summa cum laude), with Honors in the Major and Honors in General Education, from California State University, Chico.

While attending law school he received the honor of Outstanding Oral Advocate, was selected as a member of the Order of the Barristers, and as a member of the University of California, Davis, National Moot Court Team. He also held the position of Senior Articles Editor for the 2002-2003 and co-chaired the law school's Advocates for the Rights of Children student organization. As an undergraduate, Mr. Simmons presented his Honors Thesis, "Justice William J. Brennan Jr.: Bringing Justice to Education" at the 2001 Western Regional Honors Conference.

Ninth Circuit Addresses Impact Of Dismissals And Settlement Of Due Process Complaints On The IDEA’s Administrative Remedy Exhaustion Requirement

By: Marcy GutierrezSloan SimmonsAmanda RuizAmanda Cordova-

October 2019Number 43The recent opinion of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Paul G. v. Monterey Peninsula Unified School District clarifies that dismissal or settlement of a special education due process hearing inadvance of a hearing and final administrative decision from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), does not satisfy the requirement that a plaintiff exhaust administrative remedies under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) before initiating a lawsuit in federal c...

California Supreme Court Holds Firefighting Immunity Under California’s Government Claims Act Is A Waivable Affirmative Defense

By: Sloan SimmonsLauren Lyman-

October 2019Number 45In Quigley v. Garden Valley Fire Protection District, the California Supreme Court rejected the midtrial dismissal of a lawsuit involving a firefighter who suffered severe and permanent injuries after she was run over by a water truck while sleeping at a base camp. The court held that a firefighting immunity under Government Code section 850.4, part of California's Government Claims Act (GCA) (Gov. Code, § 810 et seq.) is an affirmative defense which must be raised b...

The United States Supreme Court Again Confronts The Reach Of The Establishment Clause

By: Sloan SimmonsJenell Van Bindsbergen-

September 2019Number 40In American Legion, et al. v. American Humanist Association, et al., the United States Supreme Court, by split decision, ruled that a World War I memorial in Prince George's County, Maryland, consisting of a cross, did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits the government from establishing an official religion or favoring one religion over another.In 1918, residents of Prince George's County formed ...

Supreme Court Says Plaintiffs In Law Enforcement First Amendment Retaliation Cases Must Prove No Probable Cause For Arrest

By: Jenell Van BindsbergenSloan SimmonsRyan Harrison, Sr.-

July 2019Number 31Once a year, deep in the Alaskan wilderness, twelve thousand "snow hippies" exercise their right to party. Law enforcement officers chaperone them at a ratio of ten thousand to seven. At "Arctic Man," not to be confused with "Burning Man," there is a blizzard of skiers, snowmobilers, and bonfires. According to the popular sports blogging network SB Nation, "Arctic Man is a weeklong, booze and fossil-fueled Sledneck Revival bookended around the world's craziest ski race." Fro...

Appellate Court Addresses Evidentiary Issue Impacting Burgeoning Field Of Child Abuse Litigation Against Public Entities

By: Sloan SimmonsAllison Hernandez-

July 2019Number 32In D.Z v. Los Angeles Unified School District, the California Court of Appeal clarified that California laws governing the evidence offered at trial require that courts use a two-step inquiry for all such evidence: First, determine the relevance of the evidence, and second, determine whether the court should exercise its discretion to exclude such evidence. In D.Z., such inquiry was not applied by the trial court when it determined to exclude all evidence that did not involv...

Federal Agencies Withdraw Previously Issued Guidance On The Nondiscriminatory Administration Of School Discipline

By: Sloan SimmonsMarisa Montenegro-

February 2019Number 9The United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have withdrawn their 2014 joint Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) on Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline, which provided recommendations and guidance on remediating disproportionate student discipline of minority and disabled students. The stated justification for the agencies' reversal is that implementation of the 2014 DCL resulted in schools easing up o...

New OCR Case Processing Manual - Significant Changes For Public School Civil Rights Enforcement

By: Brenda ArzateSloan Simmons-

January 2019Number 5The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) made a second round of revisions to its Case Processing Manual (CPM), effective November 19, 2018. The CPM outlines the procedures OCR uses to investigate and resolve complaints under the civil rights laws which it enforces. The CPM last underwent revisions in March of 2015 and March of 2018. The most recent changes are wide ranging and include how OCR will evaluate, investigate and resolve complaints. Key re...

New Law Entitles Students To Wear Tribal Regalia Or Recognized Objects Of Religious, Ceremonial Or Cultural Significance As An Adornment At School Graduation Ceremonies

By: Sloan SimmonsKristy Boyes-

January 2019Number 1Effective January 1 2019, a new law in California establishes students' right to wear tribal regalia or recognized objects of religious or cultural significance as an adornment at school graduation ceremonies.BackgroundGenerally speaking, federal and state law permits school districts, county offices of education and charter schools (local educational agencies, or LEAs) to develop and enforce reasonable dress code policies. Existing law has been understood to permit LEAs t...

New Law Limits School District Collection of Debts from Students and Penalties for Debts

By: Sloan Simmons-

December 2018Number 85The California Legislature recently passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1974, which places new prohibitions and restrictions on the collection of debt owed by parents to public schools, including state special schools and charter schools, and school districts, including county offices of education (all referred to herein as school districts). The new law prohibits the practice of punishing students for the failure of their parents to pay debt owed to the school district, adds addi...

Ninth Circuit Upholds California’s Voters’ Choice Act

By: Sloan SimmonsMichael Linden-

September 2018Number 45The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the constitutionality of California's Voters' Choice Act (VCA), which provides for an all-mail ballot election system. The court's opinion validates the ability of states and local election officials to implement and operate systems that are designed to increase voter turnout.In this litigation, Lozano Smith represented respondent County of Madera, which had opted in to the VCA system for the 2018 election cycle and b...

School Surveillance Video May be a Student Record, Triggering FERPA Obligations

By: Sloan SimmonsAimee PerryKristy Boyes-

August 2018Number 37School surveillance video can be considered a student record under certain circumstances, triggering a school district's obligation under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to allow parents to view it.In an informal guidance letter, the director of student privacy policy with the U.S. Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) concluded that a school surveillance video depicting eight students who were involved in a hazing i...

Legislature Stops Local Agencies from Limiting the Presentation of Childhood Sexual Abuse Claims

By: Sloan SimmonsTrevin SimsKate Holding-

July 2018Number 33In response to a recent state court case, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 1053 to explicitly prohibit local agencies from adopting local claim procedures that limit the presentation of childhood sexual abuse claims. The law, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on July 23, goes into effect January 1, 2019.BackgroundCode of Civil Procedure section 340.1 allows a lawsuit for childhood sexual abuse to be filed within the later of eight years of the date t...

Lawmakers Extend Limits on Disruption and Defiance Discipline, Expand Use of Uniform Complaint Procedures

By: Sloan SimmonsAimee PerryMichelle Sliwa-

July 2018Number 31State lawmakers have indefinitely extended previously approved limits on disciplining students for defiance and disruption and have expanded the list of issues that may be addressed through the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP).The changes were included in a budget trailer bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 1808, and became effective when Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on June 27.Extension of Limits on Student Discipline for Disruption and Willful DefianceAB 1808 eliminated the...

FDA Approves Marijuana-Based Drug for Pediatric Epilepsy

By: Sloan SimmonsAimee PerryAlyssa Bivins-

July 2018Number 32Schools may soon be fielding requests to administer Epidiolex, a drug containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical component of marijuana that does not create a "high," to students.On June 25, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex to treat two types of pediatric epilepsy. The approval of Epidiolex will pave the way for school districts, for the first time, to administer a medicine derived from marijuana, provided that the Drug Enforcement Administr...

Supreme Court Opinion on Wedding Cake for Same-Sex Couples Provides Cautionary Tale for Public Entities

By: Michael SmithSloan SimmonsJoshua Whiteside-

June 2018Number 24On June 4, 2018, the United States Supreme Court decided theMasterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case in a 7-2 decision. While this case had the potential to provide new guidance on the complex intersection between the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and the rights of individuals to religious freedom, Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion is narrow and leaves many questions unanswered. The Court's limited ruling is largely based upon the underlying facts of the ...

Court of Appeal Clarifies Issues Impacting Student Expulsions for Sexual Battery

By: Sloan SimmonsKyle Raney-

May 2018Number 19The California Court of Appeal’s recent opinion in M.N. v. Morgan Hill Unified School District (2018) 20 Cal.App.5th 607 (“Morgan Hill USD”) resolves several issues of first impression significant to student expulsion proceedings involving sexual battery. In M.N., a case in which Lozano Smith’s Sloan Simmons and Steve Ngo successfully represented the Morgan Hill Unified School District, the court set forth clear rulings on the legal standards for expe...

California Attorney General Publishes Guide on the Rights of Undocumented Immigrant Students and Families

By: Sloan SimmonsNicholas Felahi-

April 2018Number 17The California Attorney General's Office (AG) has published a comprehensive guide and model policies to equip local educational agencies (LEAs) with information and resources for addressing immigration enforcement actions and also, hate crimes and bullying that target immigrants.The guide is intended to serve as an instructional tool for LEAs in addressing increased U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity and the impacts of the rescission of the Deferred Act...

Local Agencies May Enact Presentation Requirements for Childhood Sexual Abuse Claims, Court Rules

By: Sloan Simmons-

April 2018Number 15UPDATE: Senate Bill 1053 was signed into law on July 20, 2018, and amended Government Code section 935 to explicitly exempt childhood sexual abuse claims from the claim presentation requirements of a local claim procedure. (See 2018 CNB No. 33) On July 17, 2019, the California Supreme Court issued an order transferring Big Oak Flat-Groveland Unified School District v. Superior Court back to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, with directions to vacate its decision and reco...

Immigration Enforcement Actions in California

By: Sloan SimmonsManuel MartinezKristy Boyes-

March 2018 Number 9 In recent weeks, media outlets have reported on immigration raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents that targeted various areas in California. These raids have focused on the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Sacramento areas. Other reports have confirmed ICE agents raiding dozens of 7-Eleven stores throughout the nation, and serving notices of inspection at 77 Northern California businesses within San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. As these en...

Student Walkouts: What Your District Needs to Know

By: Sloan SimmonsAimee PerryTilman Heyer-

February 2018 Number 7 This Client News Brief was updated on March 6, 2018. UPDATE: California Department of Education Issues Guidance The California Department of Education (CDE) and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released guidance on March 2 regarding student walkouts. Echoing the suggestions below, the CDE calls for schools to provide outlets for student political expression through classroom or school-wide discussions, as well as for proactive discussio...

Student Athlete's Right to Kneel during National Anthem Likely Protected by the First Amendment

By: Sloan SimmonsLeila Alamri-Kassim-

January 2018 Number 2 A federal district court in California has granted a preliminary injunction blocking a school district's policy requiring student athletes to stand during the national anthem at school sporting events. In V.A. v. San Pasqual Valley Unified School District, the Southern District of California court ruled that kneeling in silent protest is a form of student symbolic speech protected under the First Amendment. Background During the first game of the 2017 varsit...

School District Need Not Accommodate Coach's Request to Publicly Pray at Football Games

By: Sloan SimmonsAlyssa Bivins-

October 2017 Number 58 A Washington school district was not required to allow a high school football coach to pray on the 50-yard line at the end of each game, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (9th Cir. 2017, No. 16-35801) ___F.3d___ <>. The court found that the District did not violate the coach's First Amendment rights by placing him on administrative leave for ref...

Rescission of DACA: What Public Agencies Need to Know

By: Dulcinea GranthamSloan Simmons-

October 2017 Number 57 On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program temporarily permitted some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to lawfully stay, attend school, and work in the U.S. without the threat of deportation. The Administration is phasing out the program over a six-month period that will end on March 5, 2018, unless Congress enacts legislation...

California Supreme Court Denies Untimely Childhood Sexual Abuse Damages Claim

By: Sloan SimmonsErin Frazor-

September 2017 Number 53 A divided California Supreme Court threw out a woman's claim against a public agency arising from resurfaced memories of alleged sexual abuse in the early 1990s because it was not submitted to the public agency by the six-month deadline for submitting such claims under the Government Claims Act. (Rubenstein v. Doe No. 1 et al. (Aug. 28, 2017, No. S234269)__ Cal.5th __.) In a 4-3 decision, the Court found that the "delayed discovery rule" applicable to childhood...

New School Funding Scheme Does Not Eliminate Immunity From Federal Damage Claims

By: Sloan SimmonsLauren Lyman-

August 2017 Number 46 Changes to California's school funding scheme did not eliminate local school district and county office of education immunity from federal claims for damages, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. In Sato v. Orange County Department of Education (9th Cir. 2017) ___ F.3d ___, the Ninth Circuit affirmed that California school districts and county offices of education retain their absolute defense to claims for damages in federal court due to sovereign immuni...

Supreme Court Finds Trademark Disparagement Clause Unconstitutional

By: Michael SmithSloan Simmons-

July 2017 Number 44 The United States Supreme Court has held that trademarks are private speech protected by the First Amendment, even if some find the ideas they express offensive. In Matal v. Tam (2017) 582 U.S. ___, the Court held the Lanham Act's disparagement clause to be unconstitutional because it discriminated based on a viewpoint. The Court, noting that the First Amendment is a bedrock principle of government, wrote that the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited mer...

Supreme Court Strikes Down Denial of Government Grant to Church

By: Michael SmithSloan Simmons-

July 2017 Number 45 The United States Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a state policy excluding churches from participating in a government benefit program solely based on their religious status. This is a reminder that public agencies cannot deny religious institutions participation in government programs designed to promote a public benefit solely because of the institution's religious character. (Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Carol S. Comer (2017) 582 U.S. _...

OCR Issues New Instructions on Transgender Student Complaints

By: Sloan Simmons-

July 2017 Number 36 The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued new instructions to its regional directors regarding how to handle complaints involving transgender students. The document is intended to offer OCR staff additional guidance in light of recent court developments and the Trump Administration's withdrawal of the Obama Administration's guidance on transgender students. (See 2017 Client News Brief No. 9.) The instructions affirm that transgender...

Federal Court Upholds Texas School Board’s Practice of Student Invocations at School Board Meetings

By: Sloan SimmonsKyle Raney-

June 2017 Number 29 A federal appeals court recently upheld a Texas school district's practice of permitting students to deliver a religious invocation at the beginning of governing board meetings. ( American Humanist Association et al v. Birdville Independent School District et al (5th Cir. 2017, Nos. 15-11067, 16-11220) ___ F.3d ___ (Birdville). While noteworthy, the opinion is not binding on public agencies in California, where a separate ruling on religious invocations at governing bo...

2017 Annual Notice of Parental Rights and Responsibilities Updates

By: Sloan Simmons-

April 2017 Number 21 California school districts and county offices of education are required annually, at the beginning of each school year, to provide written notice of parental rights and responsibilities. Lozano Smith continuously tracks legislation impacting these notices. The following summarizes changes inCalifornia law requiring updates for the 2017-2018 annual notice. Excused Absence to Attend Student's Naturalization Ceremony Assembly Bill (AB) 1593 amended Education Code se...

Ninth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment, Finding Employer's Response to Discrimination and Harassment Complaints Inadequate

By: Sloan SimmonsMeera Bhatt-

April 2017 Number 16 In Reynaga v. Roseburg Forest Products (9th Cir. 2017) 847 F.3d 678, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently delivered an important opinion regarding public entity employers and what is required for an appropriate response to an employee's complaint of harassment or hostile work environment. In doing so, the Ninth Circuit emphasized that employer liability may exist for negligence, if the employer fails to take effective remedial action in response to such an empl...

Ninth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment, Finding Employer's Response to Discrimination and Harassment Complaints Inadequate

By: Sloan SimmonsMeera Bhatt-

April 2017 Number 16 In Reynaga v. Roseburg Forest Products (9th Cir. 2017) 847 F.3d 678, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently delivered an important opinion regarding public entity employers and what is required for an appropriate response to an employee's complaint of harassment or hostile work environment. In doing so, the Ninth Circuit emphasized that employer liability may exist for negligence, if the employer fails to take effective remedial action in response to such an employe...

New Federal Guidance Regarding Transgender Students Will Not Impact California Schools

By: Sloan Simmons-

February 2017 Number 9 Under new leadership following the 2016 presidential election, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education (DOE) issued a joint "Dear Colleague" letter on February 22, 2017 withdrawing the Obama administration's May 2016 letter and guidance regarding transgender students and sex-based discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. § 1681 et. seq.) and Title IX's regulations. The prior letter and guid...

Schools and Immigration Enforcement

By: Sloan SimmonsKristy Boyes-

January 2017 Number 4 In the wake of the recent presidential election, changes in immigration law and enforcement may be on the horizon. Some California K-12 school district and community college district officials have voiced concerns over the potential for increased enforcement of existing immigration laws, due in part to the president-elect's campaign statements that he would triple the number of enforcement agents at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deport 2 million un...

Significant Cases

  • In Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262, Mr. Simmons was part of the Lozano Smith litigation team that successfully argued, in a case of first impression, that the geographic and site limitations of the Charter Schools Act (Ed. Code, § 47600 et seq.) are applicable to all charter schools, including “nonclassroom-based” programs.

  • In Newark Unified School District v. Superior Court (2015) 245 Cal.App.4th 887, Mr. Simmons successfully obtained appellate writ relief in an opinion where the Court of Appeal held that a public entity may seek the return of and “claw back” documents protected by the attorney-client privilege that are inadvertently disclosed in a response to a Public Records Act request, establishing new precedent on this issue of first impression.

  • In Nathan G. v. Clovis Unified School District (2014) 224 Cal.App.4th 1393, Mr. Simmons successfully defended the district's involuntary transfer of student to continuation high school and obtained first published opinion interpreting the involuntary transfer statute, appropriate level of review under same, and the nature of other means of correction necessary before imposing an involuntary transfer.

  • In Rimando v. Alum Rock Union Elementary School District (9th Cir. 2009) 356 Fed.Appx. 989, Mr. Simmons successfully argued that a California public school district is a "State employer" for purposes of the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) and consequently suits against school districts under USERRA must be filed in state court, a decision which is the first of its kind in the Ninth Circuit.

  • In Clovis Unified School District v. Chiang (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 794, Mr. Simmons assisted school district in invalidating audits of several state mandated cost reimbursement claims worth more than $30 million, based upon the use of invalid, underground auditing documentation rule by the State Controller's Office.

  • Mr. Simmons conducted briefing preparation on the published decision Alex G. v. Board of Trustees (E.D. Cal. 2005) 387 F.Supp.2d 1119, successfully defending against section 504 and ADA discrimination and retaliation claims in the special education context.

  • Mr. Simmons also prepared briefing for Chavez v. City of Los Angeles (2010) 47 Cal.4th 970, in support of the City of Los Angeles on behalf of amicus curiae the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties, which is one of several federal and state cases in which Mr. Simmons has prepared amicus curiae briefs.

  • In A.A. v. Raymond (E.D. Cal. July 22, 2013) 2013 WL 3816565, assisted in successfully defeating a bid to halt school closures by way of preliminary injunction, where the district court agreed that plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits of their equal protection, American Disabilities Act, and due process claims challenging the school closures.

Top Myths of School Avoidance (Part 2)

By: Sloan SimmonsJennifer Baldassari-

In Part 2 of our discussion on school avoidance, Sloan Simmons continues the discussion with Jennifer Baldassari and Susan Bishop about case examples, myths, and best practices.

Top Myths of School Avoidance (Part 1)

By: Jennifer BaldassariSloan Simmons-

In Part 1 of our discussion on school avoidance, Sloan Simmons talks with Jennifer Baldassari and Susan Bishop about the challenges districts face in school avoidance issues from both a legal and practical perspective, highlighting the top myths associated with school avoidance along the way.

Fulfilling the Promise of the Charter Schools Act – How Competition Sparked Trilingual Immersion in a Traditional Public School

By: Megan MacySloan Simmons-

In this Lozano Smith podcast, moderator Sloan Simmons engages with Dr. Daryl Camp, Superintendent of the Riverbank Unified School District, and Lozano Smith Partner Megan Macy, regarding a burgeoning and healthy competition between two separate dual immersion programs operated in Riverbank, one through a dependent charter school and another through in a traditional district school. Their discussion explores how this existing dynamic in Riverbank serves one of the original purposes of the Charter Schools Act, the benefits of this unique situation, and some of the challenges which arose along the way.