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Law and Education Institute Announced for Summer 2008

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Legality in the educational system is a serious concern among teachers in the U.S. today. According to Harvard Education Review, 82 percent of teachers claim that schools are motivated by a desire to avoid legal liability, with 63 percent reporting that the potential for legal liability impairs their ability to do their job. To address concerns like this, Penn State's College of Education and the Dickinson School of Law will present a five-day institute this June. Titled "The Pennsylvania State University Law and Education Institute," the event will take place June 23 to 27 at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus.    

Prominent professors and attorneys will conduct workshops on educational law to administrators and teachers. Topics include religion, student rights, charter schools, technology, special education, accountability and employee rights.  Gerald Zahorchak, Pennsylvania's secretary of education, will give the keynote address.     

Organizers wish to educate participants about the legal issues that may arise in the classroom or school, empowering them to create educational environments that optimize learning.

"Administrators are worried about school safety, student speech and special education," said Preston Green, Penn State associate professor. Particularly in the wake of school shootings in the U.S., explained Green, schools are struggling to provide security to students without violating their constitutional rights. Changing laws related to special education and policies "have given rise to a great deal of litigation."   

Green, who will speak at the Institute, holds a dual appointment in both Penn State's College of Education and the Dickinson School of Law. "If administrators and teachers become more comfortable with legal issues," he said, "then they will be able to focus more on educating students."

Information on program content and registration is available by calling (814) 863-5100.