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.

U.S. Supreme Court Overrules Precedent And Opens the Federal Court Door to Takings Lawsuits Before Exhaustion of State Law Just Compensation Remedies

By:William Curley III, Nicholas Clair -

August 2019Number 37The Supreme Court of the United States held in Knick v. Township of Scott that plaintiffs claiming a local government action has interfered with their use of property may bring their constitutional "takings lawsuit" under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 directly in federal court, and before exhausting other related state law remedies. The Supreme Court's opinion overruled a 34-year old precedent requiring plaintiffs to first seek just compensation under state law in state court. Th...

New Law Clarifies Anti-Discrimination Laws Include Hair Discrimination

By:Gabriela Flowers, Joshua Whiteside -

August 2019Number 38The California Legislature recently passed Senate Bill (SB) 188, known as the CROWN Act, which amends the definition of "race" contained in state anti-discrimination laws under both the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Education Code to include "hair texture and protective hairstyles." The new law does not mean that public agencies have to change their dress codes unless specific hair texture and hairstyles are specified in their policy. Rather, the new law clarifie...

“She Said, He Said”: Appellate Court Weighs In On Fairness Requirements In Student Sexual Assault Discipline Case

By:Michael Smith, Gayle Ketchie -

July 2019Number 33On April 23, 2019, a California appellate court ruled against a private college for failing to properly provide an accused student with a fair hearing in a sexual assault case that led to the student being suspended from college for two years.Doe v. Westmont College involved an alleged rape of a female college student (Victim) by a male college student (Accused) and demonstrates the necessity of fairness for all parties involved in contested student sexual assault discipline...

PERB Decision Provides Guidance Addressing “Public Hearing” Requirement

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen, Meera Bhatt -

March 2019Number 17 In a recent decision, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) addressed the public hearing requirement an agency must satisfy before implementing its last, best, and final offer (LBFO), after completing applicable impasse procedures. In City of Yuba City (2018) PERB Dec. No. 2603-M, PERB upheld an administrative law judge decision dismissing an unfair practice charge brought against the City of Yuba City (City) by Public Employees Union Local 1 (Local 1) alleging viol...

Brown Act’s “Committee Exception” Does Not Apply To Special Meetings

By:William Curley III, Matthew Lear -

March 2019Number 18A California appellate court has focused on the distinction between a regular meeting and a special meeting of the local legislative body when considering an exception to public comment under the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act). In Preven v. City of Los Angeles (Preven), the Second District Court of Appeal found that the City of Los Angeles had improperly relied on the Brown Act's "committee exception" to stop public comment during a special meeting regarding a topic that ha...

Court Clarifies Interplay Between Education Code Discipline And The Brown Act’s 24-Hour Notice Requirement

By:Mark Waterman, Marisa Montenegro -

February 2019Number 14In Ricasa v. Office of Administrative Hearings, certified for publication on January 14, 2019, the California Court of Appeal attempted to harmonize an apparent dissonance between the Ralph M. Brown Act's personnel exception, and the disciplinary procedures of the Education Code. The opinion constitutes the first time an appellate court has ruled on the Brown Act's personnel exception in the context of community college districts, and the opinion's implications reach to ...

Records Owned And Held By A Third Party Are Not Public Records Even If A Public Agency Has A Right To Access Such Records

By:Harold Freiman, Jessica Mejorado -

March 2019Number 16A recent California appellate court ruling has clarified the reach of the California Public Records Act (CPRA). InAnderson-Barker v. City of Los Angeles, the Second District Court of Appeal held that records in the possession of a third party contractor under a contract with the City of Los Angeles were not subject to the CPRA where the city had access to but did not actually possess or control the records.BackgroundIn Anderson-Barker, the plaintiff sought to compel the cit...