Regina A. Garza is a Partner in Lozano Smith's Fresno office. Ms. Garza provides a wide array of services to the firm's clients, representing both municipalities and school districts.
Ms. Garza serves as County Counsel for the County of Madera. In that capacity, she acts as the legal advisor to the Board of Supervisors and represents the County and the County's officers and employees in their official capacities. She also serves as the Deputy City Attorney for the City of Clovis and the City of Fowler. She is a prosecuting attorney for municipal code violations, abatement and compliance matters, and is skilled in drafting zoning and regulatory ordinances. She is also experienced in serving as general counsel for public agencies. She regularly consults with department heads regarding labor and employment issues, collective bargaining, municipal liability and risk management, the Brown Act and the Public Records Act.
Additionally, Ms. Garza represents school districts as general counsel. She handles certificated and classified employee discipline re-assignments, layoffs and terminations. Ms. Garza is a skilled negotiator, representing school districts in collective bargaining, grievance arbitrations, and defense of unfair practice charges. She also presents workshops and trainings to school boards, administrators and schoolsite staff on various issues relating to labor and employment law, school finance and the Local Control Funding Formula, negotiations, team building and communications, the Brown Act and other areas of state and federal law.
Prior to joining Lozano Smith, Ms. Garza worked full-time during law school as a litigation law clerk with the Sacramento firm of Dreyer, Babich, Buccolla & Callaham, LLP. Ms. Garza was involved in the various aspects of litigation, including drafting pleadings, preparing witnesses for trial and deposition, and negotiating settlements.
Ms. Garza received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Westmont College, cum laude
. She received her Juris Doctor degree from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. During law school, she received the prestigious Witkin Award for academic excellence in Negotiations & Settlements.
Ms. Garza is a current board member of Community Youth Ministries a non-profit community organization focusing on social and spiritual needs of youth. She has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Fresno Pacific University, teaching Theological Ethics of Conflicts and Peacemaking.
Governor Brown recently signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1993 which requires the California Department of Education to develop an online training module to assist all school staff, school administrators, parents, pupils, and community members in increasing their knowledge of bullying and cyberbullying. The law becomes effective January 1, 2015, however no time frame is specified for the California Department of Education to complete the training module.
Under Education Code section 44918, temporary teachers who have served two consecutive school years shall receive "first priority" in filling a vacant position in the subsequent school year, if the vacancy occurs at the grade level in which that teacher served during either of the two prior years. The Education Code does not define "first priority" and is silent as to the discretion a district has in granting "first priority" rights to such temporary teachers when fil...
Over the past year, the impact of recent child abuse cases has affected educational institutions on local, state, and national levels. In California, state legislators proposed several changes to strengthen existing reporting laws and Governor Brown recently signed four such bills, one of which will become effective January 1, 2013. Although three of these bills, Assembly Bill (AB) 1435, AB 1434, and Senate Bill (SB) 1264 were signed into law, the new mandated repo...
Effective January 1, 2013, high school coaches will be required to receive training on recognizing the signs of concussions and responding to them appropriately. Assembly Bill (AB) 1451 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on August 17, 2012.
A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that an estimated 300,000 sport-related traumatic brain injuries, predominantly concussions, occur annually in the United States. In high school sports played...
The California Supreme Court recently issued the decision Brinker Restaurant Corporation v. Superior Court (2012) ___ S.Ct. ___ (2012 WL 1216356) clarifying an employer's duty to provide non-exempt employees meal and rest periods and reminding employers to record and keep those wage and hour records. The Brinker decision offers welcome relief to private sector employers that must comply with state meal and rest period requirements. Public agencies have traditionally bee...
In Johnson v. Poway Unified School District (9th Cir. 2011) ___ F.3d ___, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court ruling and held thePowayUnifiedSchool District(District) did not violate a high school teacher's free speech rights when it ordered him to remove two banners containing religious references from the walls of his classroom.
For approximately two decades, Bradley Johnson, a math teacher in the District, had displayed two banners in...
On June 24, 2011, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in Nichols v. Dancer (9th Cir. 2011) __ F.3d __ ("Nichols"), which analyzes a public employer's right to limit an employee's freedom to communicate and associate with a co-worker who is the subject of pending disciplinary action.
In Nichols, the court held that a true "balancing test" must be used when a public employer implicates the First Amendment by disciplining public employees f...
CLIENT NEWS BRIEF
TEACHER HAS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DISPLAY BANNERS
CONTAINING RELIGIOUS REFERENCES IN THE CLASSROOM
In Johnson v. Poway Unified School District (Feb. 25, 2010) __F.Supp.2d__, a United States District
Court for the Southern District of California ruled that the Poway Unified School District ("District”)
violated a high school teacher’s free speech rights when it ordered him to remove two banners
from the walls of his classroom because they "o...
In Doe 1, et al. v. State of California, et al., plaintiffs alleged state constitutional and federal statutory claims against a small Central Valley school district and the state Department of Education. Ms. Garza successful represented the school district, negotiating a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union and others, which substantially limited attorney fees, and included other terms that enabled her school district client to better serve its students.