College administrators need partners who understand their world - the dynamic relationship between faculty and administration, the challenges of ensuring a stable and well-regulated student community, the expanding regulatory climate affecting education, and the technology that will frame the institutions of tomorrow.

Areas of Practice

We routinely advise administrators on compliance, best practices, and trends in the law uniquely affecting community colleges. These areas include:

  • Institutional policies, including Employee, Faculty and Student Handbooks
  • Admissions policies and practices
  • Financial aid and scholarships
  • Construction agreements and facilities finance
  • Labor negotiations
  • Compliance with laws regulating classified and certificated employees
  • Wage and hour compliance
  • Severance and separation agreements
  • Technology and software licensing agreements
  • Third-party vendor and multi-institution contracts
  • Online education contracting
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Fundraising and development
  • Governance
  • Bond counsel services
  • Real Property
  • Environmental Issues

Lozano Smith clients consistently turn to the Community College Practice Group for guidance in every aspect of claims and litigation. They assist this specialized group of clientele with:

  • Employment litigation
  • Harassment and discrimination complaints
  • Student code of conduct violations and proceedings
  • Tenure disputes
  • First Amendment claims
  • Layoff proceedings
  • Labor arbitrations
  • Breach of contract claims
  • Embezzlement/fraud issues
  • Unfair business practices claims
  • Premises liability claims
  • Vendor disputes

Investigations - Learn more

The inherent seriousness and sensitivity of workplace investigations often obligates an employer to hire an independent investigator to conduct a prompt and comprehensive investigation. Lozano Smith's Investigative Services Team, a specialist group within our Labor & Employment Practice Group, recognizes the challenges that come with investigations of employee, student, and parent complaints. These attorneys have expertly served as investigators and advisors to clients on a broad range of complaints and can help your district to navigate the investigations process. Working alongside K-12 school districts, community colleges, universities and other public agencies, the Investigative Services Team supports management in reviewing and responding to employee, student, and parent complaints in a fair, impartial, and legally compliant manner.

Title IX Impact Team

Title IX has taken center stage on a number of fronts. Long before the national attention, Lozano Smith’s Title IX Impact Team was formed as a specialized group dedicated to the pressing issues faced by school districts. From athletics to sexual violence, this team advises, trains, and educates clients on the various components of Title IX – from prevention and mitigation to investigation and response. The Title IX Impact Team draws from multiple practice groups and focuses to streamline advice and counsel. Areas in which the group provides advice and training include:

  • Audit of athletic programs
  • Audit of grievance procedures and policies
  • Discipline of employees and students
  • Sexual misconduct and harassment
  • Student and employee protections
  • Investigations
  • Title IX Coordinator roles and responsibilities
  • District and employee liability
  • Interaction with law enforcement agencies
  • Litigation

Real World Applications

By working with attorneys who specialize in the law of higher education, colleges save time and money, and can trust that the attorneys they are speaking to already understand their world. The Group's practical experience translates into proven, efficient solutions.

Field Trip Immunity Does Not Apply to a Community College’s Hosting of an Intercollegiate Athletic Event

By:Edward Sklar, Aria Link -

August 2018 Number 44 Community college districts are generally immune from liability for injuries sustained in the course of field trips and excursions under the California Code of Regulations, title 5, section 55220. However, in Anselmo v. Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, an appellate court determined that such immunity does not apply to an injury sustained during an intercollegiate athletic tournament. Background In this case, a community college hosted an intercoll...

Lawmakers Approve Overhaul of Community College District Funding System

By:Darren Kameya, Steve Ngo -

August 2018 Number 42 State lawmakers have approved an overhaul of the funding system for California's community colleges. The new Student-Focused Funding Formula for general purpose apportionments will be phased in over three school years, starting in 2018-19. The formula aims to equalize access and improve outcomes for community college students by tying a portion of annual funding to student equity and success. The formula was included in a budget trailer bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 18...

Lawmakers Okay Budget Bill Addressing Union Dues Collection and Communications about Membership Rights

By:Dulcinea Grantham, Gabriela Flowers -

June 2018 Number 29 California lawmakers have approved a budget trailer bill that imposes new obligations on public sector employers related to deducting union dues and fees from workers' paychecks. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 866 on the same day the United States Supreme Court barred the collection of mandatory agency fees that cover unions' cost of providing services, which the Court deemed a violation of workers' First Amendment free speech rights. (See 2018 CNB No. 27...

Supreme Court Rules Public Sector Union Agency Fees Are Unlawful

By:Dulcinea Grantham, Erin Hamor, Gabriela Flowers -

This news brief is intended for public school districts, including community colleges. For the Janus news brief intended for municipalities and special districts, click here. June 2018 Number 27 Overturning a longstanding precedent, the United States Supreme Court has held in Janus v. AFSCME that public employees may not be compelled to pay mandatory agency fees, or "fair share" fees, to public-sector unions, because such fees violate the First Amendment. The Janus decision will hav...

Colleges Have a Duty to Warn or Protect Students from Foreseeable Violence

By:Michelle Cannon, Carrie Rasmussen -

April 2018 Number 14 Colleges have a legal duty, under certain circumstances, to protect their students from or warn them about foreseeable violence in the classroom or during curricular activities, the California Supreme Court has ruled. In The Regents of the University of California, et al., v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, the Court considered whether colleges owe a duty of care to their students to protect them from or warn them about foreseeable violence. This question is ...

School District Bid Threshold Raised for 2018

By:Ruth Mendyk -

December 2017 Number 85 School districts' bid threshold for purchases of equipment, materials, supplies and services (except construction services) has been adjusted to $90,200, effective January 1, 2018. This represents an increase of 2.20 percent over the 2017 bid limit. The notice may be viewed here. Under Public Contract Code section 20111(a), school districts must competitively bid contracts over the bid limit and award to the lowest responsible bidder, unless an exception applies...

New Law Requires Legal Consult Prior to Custodial Interrogation of Minor under Age 16

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen, Leila Alamri-Kassim -

November 2017 Number 78 Beginning January 1, 2018, minors under the age of 16 must consult with legal counsel prior to a custodial interrogation and before waiving their Miranda rights. Existing law requires a peace officer to advise minors of their rights by providing a Miranda warning. But if the minor or parent waives those rights, officers can interrogate the minor. Senate Bill (SB) 395, which adds section 625.6 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, will prohibit a law enforcement ...