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DashBoard, Dec. 2, 2015

Issues regarding civil rights, Title IX and transgender students continue to pick up steam, both in Michigan and around the country. On Nov. 2, 2015, an Illinois school district was found to be in violation of Title IX by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for prohibiting a transgender student access to the girls’ locker room.

Over the last few weeks, members of the U.S. Congress have been working toward a bipartisan rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as No Child Left Behind). The draft bill has received support from many groups, including the National School Boards Association, MASB’s parent organization, as it reduces federal oversight and institutes more local control.

The Michigan House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on House Bill 4298, a bill that will lead to the elimination of electric choice for schools across Michigan.

Every year, thousands of dollars are spent on repairing preventable winter weather destruction of school property. With the unpredictable nature of Michigan winters adding even more concern for possible damage, it’s imperative that school administrators take steps to prevent freeze damage that results in devastating and costly claims.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

DashBoard, Dec. 9, 2015

The House and Senate are currently working on a legislation package that would exempt data centers from sales and use taxes, as well as the personal property tax. Senate Bills 616-618 and House Bills 5074-5076 would pave the way for Nevada-based data storage center, Switch, to move into the former Steelcase Inc. pyramid building in Kent County. However, as with any tax exemption bill, there is a cost to schools and local governments.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today with every indication it will be passed and sent to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law before the end of the year.

Submitted by Judy Wright, Consulting Partner, Plante Moran

Cybercrime has touched organizations of every size and in every industry, and school districts are no exception. An attack on a district’s information technology system can compromise its ability to teach. If personally identifiable information is exposed, districts may be subject to penalties under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, including loss of federal funding. Civil lawsuits may ensue. Districts may also find they aren’t covered for damages under their traditional business interruption insurance policies. One thing is clear: K-12 institutions need to have a strategy for minimizing the likelihood of a breach as well as a plan to deal with the fallout after one takes place.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

How Christmas is celebrated, or not celebrated, seems to be seasonal fodder for cable news almost every year. That recurring, sometimes heated, national dialogue is often reflected in what happens in our local communities, particularly in schools. At the same time, students and teachers are excited about the upcoming holidays (and the concurrent break), and that excitement and anticipation flows into the school building. Administrators, then, sometimes feel like they are walking a tightrope trying to ensure that the holiday decorations, concerts, parties and other celebrations do not violate the First Amendment.

DashBoard, Dec. 16, 2015

In the Dec. 2 DashBoard, we wrote about the evolving situation concerning a transgender student in Illinois and how the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights had determined that prohibiting that student (a biological male who identifies as female) from full access to the female locker room was a Title IX civil rights violation. Since that OCR finding, which occurred on Nov. 2, 2015, a settlement between the district (Palatine-Schaumburg) and OCR was reached.

In response to a request for suggestions on how to make Michigan a Top 10 state for education within the next 10 years, the Michigan Department of Education and State Board of Education received input from numerous stakeholders groups, including MASB, education partners and individual citizens. This valuable information was provided via formal presentations to the SBE, written submissions, one-on-one and group meetings with the State Superintendent, and more than 750 responses collected through a dedicated website.