Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, College of Education Offer Law and Education Institute at University Park
by Crystal Stryker (February 2009)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Lawyers, teachers, school board members, and administrators are invited for “summer enrichment” at the 2009 Law and Education Institute at Penn State. Sponsored jointly by Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law and the College of Education, the Institute runs June 21–27.
Topics include student rights, speech and religion, school district liability, and special education. Penn State law professor Lucy Johnston-Walsh will make a presentation on child custody issues, while Preston Green, who holds a joint appointment as a professor with the Law School and the College of Education, will address school desegregation, school choice, and accountability.
Distinguished presenters will include Robert Abraham, retired staff attorney for the Pennsylvania State Education Association; Sandra Azar, a Penn State professor of psychology who researches definitions of parental competence for custody evaluations; Thomas Hutton, senior staff attorney for the National School Boards Association; Kevin McKenna, general counsel for the Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools; and Julie Mead, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin–Madison whose research focuses on the legal issues surrounding students with special needs and school choice initiatives.
“The Institute provides a rare opportunity for school administrators and attorneys to come together to learn about educational law,” says Green, who is the conference organizer. “This interaction will enable each group to learn more about the issues that the other group faces.”
“Many attorneys have a difficult time keeping up with all of the changes in the law because of the demands of their day-to-day practices,” observes Green. “The Institute provides attorneys with a way to learn this information in an entertaining fashion.”
Green explains that attending the conference will help administrators and teachers improve their “legal literacy.”
“Eighty-five percent of teachers do not have any exposure to legal issues in their preparation programs,” explains Green, “This statistic is disturbing in light of the fact that many teachers refuse to take actions that they are know are educationally sound because of fear of litigation. The Institute will provide administrators and teachers with the tools to reduce this fear of litigation.”
The Institute is structured so that participants can select a three-credit class in education leadership (to earn Act 45 credits) or a shorter schedule to earn continuing legal education credits, Act 48 credits, or fewer credits pursuant to Act 45.
The Institute will be held in the new Lewis Katz Building at University Park, which features state-of-the-art instructional facilities, an auditorium, a café with terraced indoor/outdoor seating, and plenty of study space.
If you would like to take a “field trip” to State College this summer and register for the conference, visit the Institute Web site.