Through our long-standing partnerships with primary and secondary schools, as well as with colleges and universities, we at BHPK Law are committed to supporting and promoting respectful learning and working environments in our school communities. We stay up-to-date on the rapidly evolving developments in school law, Title IX, and employment law in order to provide our clients with expert, thoughtful, legal advice. Our attorneys have advised and represented school districts, served as school committee counsel, and worked as Title IX coordinators. Below, please find sections related to our K-12 practice as well as our higher education practice.
BHPK’s attorneys have specialized in representing school districts for decades, advising our clients on all types of labor, employment and policy-related issues. We have a winning record defending school districts in both state and federal court, and before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In addition, we are available to design trainings programs to help our clients understand the nuances of implementing policies relating to Title IX, the Education Reform Act, the Open Meeting Law, the Public Records Law, State Ethics laws, and collective bargaining agreements. We are also available to conduct investigations in both the Title VII and Title IX contexts.
Naomi Stonberg and Greg Pagnini bring a depth of experience to the K-12 school law practice, routinely advising clients on all aspects of workplace-related issues. They are experts in anti-discrimination, harassment and bullying laws, as well as in all matters related to school budget and finance, retirement, health insurance, employee suspension and/or discharge, and student discipline. They both have extensive experience negotiating and drafting employment agreements as well as student handbooks. Over the course of her forty-year career, Naomi has worked with many school systems, including as labor relations counsel to school committees throughout New England, as well as the chief negotiator and labor relations counsel of a large state university system. For over a decade, Greg has been providing sound legal advice and guidance to school districts in every facet of employment law, including collective bargaining, hiring, contract negotiations, and grievances. Both Naomi and Greg represent clients at the table throughout the collective bargaining process, using both traditional and interest-based bargaining. They are committed to working with clients to identify and strategize around issues that might arise in the school context and to prevent issues before they start.
Our attorneys also specialize in handling sexual harassment on behalf of school districts in the context of M.G.L. Chapter 214, Section 1C. Leading decisions in the law relative to this area include BHPK’s successful defense in Porto v. Tewksbury. 488 F.3d 67 (1st Cir. 2007) and a highly publicized victory by BHPK on behalf of the Somerville Schools in Mondol v. Somerville, 746 Fed.Appx. 35 (1st Cir. 2018) and its companion case, Lopez v. Somerville, 2018 WL 5634950 (D. Mass. 2018).
We at BHPK understand that legal issues related to colleges and universities present their own unique set of challenges. Our attorneys offer expert up-to-date legal advice on the rapidly evolving landscape of Title IX to ensure that complainants, respondents, witnesses, and campus communities can have confidence in the consistency and fairness of the process.
Our lawyers are former Title IX coordinators and prosecutors, and bring a wealth of experience to advising, investigating, and adjudicating Title IX complaints. At BHPK, we understand how critical it is for students and employees to not just know their rights and resources, but to truly understand them so that the Title IX process remains one that is supportive for all participants. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing colleges and universities, students, and employees in disciplinary actions related to allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Attorney Allison L. O’Connell, has worked at some of the nation’s premier public and private institutions and has direct experience using a live hearing model. In her previous role at University of Washington, she worked collaboratively with colleagues to ensure that live hearings were less legalistic and more accessible to the parties. She was also responsible for training faculty appeals officers and overseeing the appeals process. Erica L. Brody’s work as a prosecutor has not only provided an expertise in how to investigate allegations of misconduct, but also informs her empathetic approach to investigations and representing parties in Title IX hearings.
We also know that sometimes parallel processes might affect how students and employees may choose to engage in the Title IX process, and stand ready to advise clients on how actions taken in the higher education context might affect criminal and/or civil cases. Our lawyers are available to assist you in conducting investigations in both the Title VII and Title IX contexts and can help craft and deliver comprehensive, detailed and interactive training programs.
To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a lawyer at Brody, Hardoon, Perkins & Kesten, LLP, please call our Boston law office at (617) 880-7100 or complete our online contact form.