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Public Schools

Buelow Vetter is privileged to serve a wide variety of public schools and higher education institutions – in large cities, expanding suburbs and smaller communities – throughout the state of Wisconsin. We understand that the teachers, staff and employees that comprise the public education system are public servants, answering the exceptionally important calling to educate the workforce of the future.

 

To assist you in meeting the needs of your students, we provide sound advice in the areas of educating and disciplining students, evaluating and compensating teachers and staff, developing administrator contracts and more.

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Students

We understand that students are at the heart of every action and decision made by school leaders. At Buelow Vetter, we are here to help you meet the needs of each and every student, by advising you in the areas of student discipline, privacy, mental health needs, educating students with special needs and fulfilling requests for student records.

Disciplining students is an unfortunate part of managing an educational institution. However, when issues arise, Buelow Vetter is committed to helping you to resolve these issues appropriately, efficiently and as discretely as possible, so you can remain focused on delivering a quality education to your students.

 

Our attorneys provide sound advice that ranges from drafting policies and student handbooks, to disciplining students for conduct occurring off school grounds. Additionally, we represent school boards or administrators during expulsion proceedings, including defending expulsion orders when appealed to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), or in state or federal court proceedings.

One of the most complicated issues facing virtually every school board and superintendent is understanding and complying with state and federal laws regulating the educational needs and rights of students with disabilities. That’s why Buelow Vetter attorneys regularly consult with administrators and student services staff on this complex area of the law. And, in the event your district faces federal or state court actions over the rights of students to a free and appropriate public education, we stand ready to defend and protect your interests.

With an increasing dependence on computer technology, the security of student records has become a more frequent and complex issue for school administrators. Buelow Vetter attorneys have extensive experience in advising districts on a variety of topics including parental rights to student records, the use of technology to maintain a safe school environment, access to student records by the media or law enforcement agencies, and even what constitutes a “student record” in the digital and social age. Finally, we also assist public schools in harmonizing any applicable public records requirements.

At Buelow Vetter, we regularly consult with school administrators on the legal rights and responsibilities of students. Common issues that we advise districts on include free speech, religion, search and seizure, harassment, bullying and drug and alcohol testing. While our role varies from district to district, you can count on our team to deliver sound day-to-day advice, diligence in reviewing and updating your policies and handbooks, and passionately defending your school board in the event of litigation.

We understand that a student handbook or code of conduct is an essential tool for every school and district, as clear and meaningful handbooks and policies are the keys to avoiding misunderstandings, liability and litigation. And while the needs of every school are different, it’s important to realize that a policy that works for one district may not be as effective in another. If you need help fine-tuning your district’s handbook or codes of conduct to align with evolving trends, technological advances and other elements driving change in education, the attorneys at Buelow Vetter are here to help.

Like you, we believe that all students deserve equal access to educational resources like robust academic and extracurricular programs, excellence in teaching, technologically-advanced facilities and high-quality instructional materials, regardless of race, color or place of origin. We can help you develop forms and procedures to protect your district from challenges and provide appropriate guidelines in a nondiscriminatory environment. Additionally, we can assist you in developing conforming facilities use and extra-curricular sponsorship guidelines.

Buelow Vetter attorneys frequently assist school districts in drafting and reviewing their open enrollment policies and procedures. In addition, we provide guidance regarding how to calculate your open enrollment space, process open enrollment applications and even terminate open enrollment. We are also ready to facilitate in mitigating and managing issues related to open enrolled students in your school.

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Teachers/Staff

We truly respect the teachers, staff and employees of school districts for the exceptionally valuable work you do, often at great personal sacrifice. That’s why Buelow Vetter is dedicated to assisting your district with all aspects of reviewing and developing teacher contracts, evaluating teacher compensation and more. Additionally, when employment issues arise with teachers and staff within your district, Buelow Vetter is here to help you resolve the issue while protecting taxpayer resources and the educator effectiveness model.

In an effort to protect teachers, the Wisconsin Legislature has created special laws on discrimination, discipline, contract renewal and nonrenewal, discharge and even performance evaluations for teachers. The attorneys at Buelow Vetter are well-versed in practices and procedures for assisting districts and schools in successfully correcting performance deficiencies of teachers, and in representing your organization in the event of teacher nonrenewal or termination proceedings.

 

Additionally, we can assist in developing policies to enhance the relationship between student achievement, instructional effectiveness and the evaluation process.

Buelow Vetter’s team of attorneys understands that individual teacher and administrator contracts are a matter of critical importance within every educational institution. Whether you need assistance in reviewing and updating existing contracts, or developing new documents that reflect the latest laws, we have the expertise you need.

 

Since the adoption of Act 10, we have been developing contract components that reinforce school board policy and handbook provisions. These changes assist districts in improving recruitment and retention of outstanding professional staff.

When it comes to evaluating the performance of your teachers and ensuring that their compensation is commensurate, Buelow Vetter can help you evaluate and update your current program to ensure that your school is attracting and retaining the highest quality educators.

 

Act 10 has opened the door to innovation in pay for performance and merit pay programs, yet revenue controls have limited this new found flexibility. Buelow Vetter can help you develop sustainable compensation programs which integrate both salary and benefits, while taking into account current budgetary realities.

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Administration

Compliance with a myriad of laws impacting employers is a vital part of every school’s strategy to reduce risk and unnecessary cost. We’re constantly scanning the evolving employment law landscape to alert you to any changes that impact how you educate students and offer your teachers and staff opportunities for enrichment. Additionally, we are prepared to develop strategies to protect your interests, including checklists, warning signs and best practices.

Our attorneys regularly conduct training and seminars for administrators, teachers and staff on a variety of school-related topics. In fact, we often create customized training sessions for both newly-hired and experienced teachers and administrators that incorporate your policies and best practices. To facilitate this, we thoroughly review important topics that professional educators need to know to perform their job duties and prevent or minimize legal issues for your district.

Since Buelow Vetter has the privilege of serving as general counsel for many of our educational clients, we provide a comprehensive set of business services, ranging from contract review to human resources and personnel insight. Whatever you may need, we are here to help.

 

Contracts

Before you enter into an agreement or sign a contract with a teacher, a contractor or a service provider, let Buelow Vetter review these important documents to ensure that your interests are protected. We can assist you in protecting the public interest while recognizing the business requirement of school district operations. From privacy to remedies to protecting from liability, we can assist in the review and drafting of contracts.

 

HR/Personnel

Before you enter into an agreement or sign a contract with a teacher, a contractor or a service provider, let Buelow Vetter review these important documents to ensure that your interests are protected. We can assist you in protecting the public interest while recognizing the business requirement of school district operations. From privacy to remedies to protecting from liability, we can assist in the review and drafting of contracts.

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Board

We salute members who serve on boards of education for their commitment and ownership of the important tasks associated with educating the children in every community. At Buelow Vetter, we understand that the challenges facing school boards today are broad and ever-changing. That is why we serve as a valued resource, source of support and strategic counsel to help you meet the issues that you encounter in your service to your community.

Each school district faces unique issues in recruiting and retaining the best administrators to their district. Buelow Vetter attorneys can assist you in drafting policies, preparing administrator contracts and establishing salary and benefit levels for administrators, to optimally position you for success.

With more and more information being requested by stakeholders, students, parents and the media, open meetings have become increasingly important and stressful for boards of education. Buelow Vetter has decades of experience successfully preparing board members for all types of open meetings, and is standing by to help you effectively navigate any pitfalls and allowing your focus to take center stage.

 

Carefully drafting meeting notices, closed session descriptions and meeting minutes is critical to avoiding statutory violations and potential liability. We will assist you in not having these types of issues distract you from the business of education.

We understand that public records requests are not only time consuming, but they often blur the lines of what information is truly public versus that which should remain private. Trust Buelow Vetter to take public records requests off of your very full plates, freeing you up to focus on your core competencies.

 

Our attorneys will make recommendations on the appropriate level of redaction and disclosure consistent with your policies and sound public policy.

Public School employees and elected officials are subject to conflict of interest and ethics statutes. School boards effectively avoid damaging situations by promulgating policies and handbook provisions which set clear boundaries. Buelow Vetter has worked with districts to develop policies and notices, as well as issued written guidelines so as to prevent and remedy violations.

School board policies constitute the “statute book” which governs all aspects of district operations. The well-drafted policy book includes policies ranging from accommodations to zero tolerance. We can help you to evaluate, update and draft policies, crafted to meet your individual district’s needs.

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Charter Schools

At Buelow Vetter, we guide public schools and other entities through the process of establishing a charter school, including virtual charter schools. In addition to assisting you with the myriad of issues and laws relating to your employees and students, we can support you through drafting and reviewing charter school contracts and determining which statutes and regulations apply to your particular school. Additionally, we can provide guidance regarding your legal obligations to serving children with disabilities.

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