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 advice and litigation
  • 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.

District Court Rules College Policy Prohibiting "Inappropriate or Offensive" Student Postings May Violate Students' Free Speech Rights

By:Trevin Sims, Jaspreet Lochab -

March 2023Number 12The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction preventing a community college from enforcing a policy that prohibited student posted material that was “inappropriate” or “offensive.” (Flores v. Bennett (E.D. Cal., October 14, 2022, No. 1:22-cv-01003) __ F.3d __.)BackgroundIn November 2021, Alejandro Flores, a student at Clovis Community College (College) and founder of the local chapter of the ...

Ninth Circuit Upholds Student Discipline for Social Media Posts

By:Sloan Simmons, Joshua Whiteside, Michele Ellson -

March 2023Number 10In Chen v. Albany Unified School District (9th Cir. 2022) 56 F.4th 708, a panel of Ninth Circuit judges agreed with a lower court ruling that the school district’s decision to discipline students who created and commented on racist social media posts attacking classmates and school staff did not violate those students’ free speech rights when those off-campus posts circulated among other students at the school, disrupting classes and causing academic issues and ...

The End of the COVID-19 State of Emergency Impacts Remote Board Meetings under AB 361

By:Anne Collins, Ryan Tung, Angela Okamura -

February 2023Number 8Effective March 1, 2023, local agencies will no longer have the option to rely on the COVID-19 proclaimed state of emergency to conduct fully remote legislative body meetings pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 361.BackgroundOn March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in California due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also signed various executive orders temporarily allowing legislative bodies of local agencies to conduct meetings virtually, relaxing the tradit...

The California Public Records Act Has All New Statutory Citations Starting January 1, 2023

By:Manuel Martinez, Sophia Cohn -

January 2023Number 7Local government agencies regularly issue correspondence regarding the California Public Records Act (CPRA) which lists the statutes concerning the disclosure of public records.  Starting on January 1, 2023, the CPRA’s statutory citations have changed.  The California Legislature has moved all sections of the CPRA to a different section of the Government Code.  This means referenced statutes contained in outdated letters may no longer be valid.The CPRA...

Important Changes Regarding Liability to CalSTRS for Benefit Overpayment

By:Thomas Manniello, Emma Sol -

January 2023Number 1Governor Newsom has signed Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1667, overhauling key parts of the CalSTRS benefit overpayment recovery process. AB 1667 stipulates that the party responsible for the error that caused a benefit overpayment must pay CalSTRS the full amount of the overpayment. AB 1667 also establishes a safe harbor for school district employers, where they can request an advisory letter from CalSTRS when reporting compensation. The full text of AB 1667 is located...

Legislation Roundup: Pre-Hearing Adverse Actions Against Classified Employees, and Recovery of Wage Overpayments

By:Gabriela Flowers -

January 2023Number 3New Limitations on Pre-Hearing Disciplinary Action Against Classified EmployeesOn September 30, 2022, Governor Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) AB 2413, limiting the ability of school districts and community college districts to immediately impose adverse actions against classified employees who request a hearing on their pending discipline.Effective January 1, 2023, Education Code sections 45113 and 88013 will prohibit a school or community college district from ...

New EEOC Poster to be Posted by Employers

By:Manuel Martinez, Sarah Fama -

January 2023Number 5On October 20, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released the “Know Your Rights:  Workplace Discrimination is Illegal” poster, which must be posted by all covered employers.  This newly released poster replaces the “EEO is the Law” poster.BackgroundCovered employers include all state and local government employers, educational institutions, unions, and staffing agencies as well as private employers with 15 or mo...