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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sharan E Brown
LAW A 584
Seattle Campus

American Public School Law

Constitutional, statutory, and common law principles common to all public education systems within the United States. Applicable law in a variety of substantive legal areas such as torts, property, contracts, administrative law, and fundamental rights. Offered: Sp.

Class description

The goal of this course is to give you the knowledge and skills necessary to identify the legal issues effecting the operation and management of public schools within the United States and the legal standards to apply in resolving disputes concerning public education. Washington State school law is not the focus of the course; however, you will have the opportunity to explore state education law in completion of one course requirement.

The specific objectives of the course are that you will gain:

1. An understanding of the historical development of the American public education system and an appreciation of the legal implications in current educational debates.

2. A thorough knowledge of the constitutional and federal statutory law relevant to public schools.

3. An ability to research Washington State specific school law on a topic of interest as demonstrated by completion of a paper summarizing the law.

4. An ability to demonstrate a working knowledge of the course materials through successful completion of a final examination.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The course material is presented primarily through case discussion. THere are several guest speakers throughout the quarter.

You will be evaluated on class preparation and participation as well as performance on the written assignment/class presentation and the final exam.

Recommended preparation

American Public School Law is heavy on constitutional issues, so any background you have in that area will be helpful.

Class assignments and grading

You will complete a written assignment as described below and then at the end of the course, give students an oral summary of your research on that issue. There is also a final, closed book exam.

Written Assignment: Your written assignment is to identify an issue in school law that interests you, narrow it if necessary, and write a summary of the law relevant in Washington State (or another state if you plan to practice in a different jurisdiction and want to investigate that education law.) This means that you will probably need to research both state and federal law. As an example—let’s say you are particularly interested in 4th amendment issues in schools, particularly privacy rights of students who participate in extracurricular activities in high school. Your specific question might be “Do Washington state students participating in extracurricular activities in high school have constitutional rights to be free from random urine tests?” Your research should be presented in a modified brief format, as a memorandum, or a letter to client. Students in the past have used all those styles and researched such topics as inequities in public school financing, the least restrictive mandate in special education, teacher dismissal for sexual misconduct with students, and constitutional limitations on charter schools in Washington.

Grading: The grade is based on the following: 1) class preparation and participation [20%], 2) the exam [40%] and 3) the written assignment/presentation [40%].


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sharan E Brown
Date: 07/12/2005