School Law and General Public Finance
For over 25 years, the attorneys of O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo have diligently served school districts and educational institutions throughout Texas. Our attorneys are among the best qualified in all aspects of general school law and the related areas of practice including construction law (link to Construction Litigation page), personnel administration, investigations, providing Special Counsel to the Board of Trustees, and Special Education and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Our firm provides innovative preventive protection with regard to compliance issues, as well as representation in matters requiring litigation.
In-Service Training/Compliance Issues
We believe that preventive In-Service Training is an important function of providing legal services to school districts. Our In-Service training keeps legal costs lower when potential problems are recognized in advance. We aim to provide advice and solutions to our clients before violations occur, through education regarding the various areas compliance with the laws and regulations that our clients routinely encounter.
In an effort to better serve our clients regarding compliance issues, we provide representation, training and litigation services to school districts across the state concerning the following issues:
- Parental Rights
- Municipal Planning and Environmental Ordinances
- Student Records
- Student Discipline
- State and Federal Regulations;Local Planning, Zoning and Environmental
- Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance
- University Interscholastic League (UIL)
- Juvenile Justice Issues
- Freedom of Religion and First Amendment Issues
- Federal Civil Rights Law
Special Education and Section 504
Section 504 is that section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which applies to persons with disabilities. Mr. O’Hanlon served for five years as a Special Education Hearing Officer for the Texas Education Agency in contested Special Education cases. Our firm routinely advises our school district clients on Special Education and Section 504 issues as we feel strongly that we “add value” in this area by understanding the risk of the stakeholders in these controversies and resolving them without resort to costly judicial or quasi-judicial procedures.
School and General Public Finance
Perhaps nothing in public education is more complicated or more critical to the operation of a public school district than a thorough understanding of school finance. This is one of Mr. O’Hanlon’s primary areas of expertise. For more than twenty five years, he has worked closely with state leaders at the highest levels to help create school finance solutions. Consequently, the firm can assist in leveraging maximum state aid for each dollar of local tax collections. We are also experienced with the practices of the Comptroller’s Property Tax Division and current interpretation of tax rollback provisions.
School Personnel Administration &Personnel Litigation
O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo has over 75 years cumulative experience in the area of personnel litigation and we have represented numerous public employers on personnel matters, including multiple matters of employee non-criminal misconduct in both administrative and judicial forums. Our attorneys practice employment law on a daily basis for a wide range of clients including school districts, state agencies, teacher organizations, private employers, and individual clients. In conjunction with a district’s staff and as part of our preventive In-Service training activities, we have developed and implemented streamlined processes to effectively resolve personnel issues without unnecessary Board meetings or protracted due process hearings.
We have extensive experience asserting and litigating the immunities of public officials and employees, so that school district officials and employees can continue to exercise their discretion without fear of personal liability. Our firm has a long history of representing governmental entities as we are considered experts on state and federal law and the various immunities of governmental entities. Our firm is often consulted by other attorneys and firms concerning these issues.
We have successfully conducted numerous investigations for public entities regarding alleged acts or omissions by employees. In addition to conducting the investigations of alleged conduct in violation of Chapter 21, Texas Labor Code, and Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, the ADEA, and the ADA, we have prepared multiple responses to administrative charges of discrimination filed with the Texas Workforce Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Our investigations encompass alleged misconduct by school district employees to avoid further litigation on claims of retaliation in cases of alleged sexual harassment and whistle-blowing on First Amendment Retaliation.
Special Counsel to the Board of Trustees &Board Policies and Procedures
Mr. O’Hanlon, in his capacity as General Counsel for the Texas Education Agency, often provided training sessions to school district trustees, and has advised boards of trustees in many contested personnel matters and desegregation matters. Our firm has numerous years of experience in preparing formal legal opinions for school district clients providing specific guidance upon which a district may legally rely in resolving the questions addressed.
Our firm maintains a continuing liaison with the Secretary of State allowing our attorneys to remain current on all of the latest developments as to trustee elections and potential election administration controversies. Our attorneys have over 75 years collective experience in the area of Open Meetings compliance allowing us to efficiently review meeting agendas for compliance without having to do costly research. We provide periodic updates on board policy and local administrative practices to align District policy and procedure with current legal requirements imposed by changes in state and federal statutes, administrative regulatory changes, new court precedents, Attorney General’s Opinions, and interpretations by the Texas Education Agency.
O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo has successfully represented many public clients in the legislative arena and we routinely track education legislation during legislative years. We monitor developments in the Texas Legislature and we monitor and review changes in Texas public school law recommended by the South Texas Schools Association and/or the Texas Association of School Boards General Assembly of Delegates.