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.

PERB Holds that Employers Have a Duty to Negotiate in Good Faith Regarding the Effects of Mandatory Vaccination Policies Prior to Implementation

By:Sarah Kaatz, Brooke Bolton Tiutan -

August 2021Number 22On July 26, 2021, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) issued a decision finding that while the decision to adopt a mandatory influenza vaccination policy implemented by the Regents of the University of California (University) was outside the scope of representation, the University's failure to meet and confer in good faith over the effects of the policy, prior to implementation, constituted an unlawful unilateral change in violation of the Higher Education Employe...

New Law Allows School and Community College Districts to Adopt Trustee Areas Without Holding an Election for Voter Approval

By:Ryan Tung, Jonathan Berry-Smith -

August 2021Number 19Effective on January 1, 2022, a county committee on school district organization will be able to approve a school district or community college district’s adoption of a by-trustee area election method, without calling an election to seek voter approval.BackgroundMany school districts and community college districts’ governing board members are elected at-large, meaning that each board member is elected by voters of the entire district. Districts that hold elect...

School District Properly Placed Coach on Leave After He Refused to Cease Public Prayers Following Football Games

By:Sloan Simmons, Alyssa Bivins -

August 2021Number 20In Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (9th Cir. 2021) 991 F.3d 1004, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) upheld the Bremerton School District’s (District) placement of high school football coach Joseph Kennedy (Kennedy) on paid administrative leave when Kennedy refused to stop conducting public prayers and religious motivational speeches at the 50-yard line with students following football games. The Ninth Circuit reasoned that the District appropria...

Supreme Court Sets Aside Student's Cheer Team Suspension, but Confirms Schools' Authority to Regulate Off-Campus Expression

By:Sloan Simmons, Andrew Blan -

July 2021Number 16In its first student free speech case since 2007, Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a student whose off-campus and off-color social media (Snapchat) posts resulted in her suspension from the school’s junior varsity cheerleading team. The Supreme Court confirmed, however, that schools may still regulate student expression occurring off-campus on a case-by-case basis under the Tinker standard, albeit to a lesser degree...

"On the Basis of Sex" Interpreted: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protected Under Title IX

By:Stephanie White, Jonathan Berry-Smith -

July 2021Number 15On June 16, 2021, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Notice of Interpretation [1] explaining that discrimination “on the basis of sex” under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) encompasses both sexual orientation and gender identity. This interpretation clarifies how OCR will enforce Title IX moving forward, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County Georgia...

Online Public Meetings Still Allowed Until September 30

By:Harold Freiman, Jessica Ozalp -

June 2021Number 12On March 17, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order N-29-20. This order allowed local agencies to address emergent pandemic conditions by allowing local officials, and the public, to participate in public meetings via virtual platforms. Ordinarily, board attendance via teleconference is regulated by certain provisions of California’s open meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act). With recent announcements anticipating the end of certain COVID-19 related restr...

Face Coverings Still Required in Certain Circumstances under New Rules

By:Karen Rezendes, Joshua Whiteside -

June 2021Number 10The past two weeks have seen a flurry of changing guidance regarding the use of face masks at workplaces and schools. On June 17, 2021, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted revised COVID-19 workplace rules and the Governor signed Executive Order N-09-21 making these rules effective immediately. The same day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals to address changing rules on ...