PRIVATE K-12 SCHOOLS AND THE FMLA
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides in pertinent part that public as well as private elementary and secondary schools are covered employers without regard to the number of employees employed. (29 C.F.R. § 825.104) But that is not the end of the inquiry. The regulations also provide that even though educational institutions, including public and private K-12 institutions, are covered by FMLA without regard to number of employees, the usual requirements for employees to be eligible do apply, including employment at a worksite where at least 50 employees are employed within 75 miles. 29 C.F.R. § 825.600
The Department of Labor provides the following illustration: For example, employees of a rural school would not be eligible for FMLA leave if the school has fewer than 50 employees and there are no other schools under the jurisdiction of the same employer (usually, a school board) within 75 miles. (29 C.F.R. § 825.600)
Rather than applying the 50 employee requirement to determine whether the educational institution is covered, the analysis will hinge on whether the employee qualifies. Why is this somewhat esoteric point important to private K-12 schools? Because it will impact the way private schools draft their policies and/or employee handbooks and how they administer the policies. Leave policies are one of the most frequently referenced policies of any employer, including schools. Appreciating this point will be valuable when drafting and administering the leave policy and/or employee handbook.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information. It is neither legal advice nor is it an advertisement for legal services. Please consult your legal counsel for legal advice regarding the FMLA.
Thanks for reading! – Debra
It’s Smart Business to Establish a Contract Process in Schools
Implement a contract process? Yeah, right! Contracts are boring and time consuming and schools are understaffed as it is. “We’ll just keep squeaking by as we have been and hope that the contractor performs, we don’t get sued and no one gets hurt.” Sound familiar?
Why does your public or private school need a contract process? Whether you are a public school system, a charter school or a private non-profit school, chances are that you are audited annually. Having a good contract process in place will go a long way in assisting your staff to respond to auditor requests and may help your organization avoid audit findings. Not to mention, a good contract process will help you monitor expenditures and will protect the school from liability when necessary.
What are some areas that are typically addressed in a contract process?
- Identifying the person in your organization who is primarily responsible for shepherding the contract through the process at all stages. This establishes a sense of “ownership” in the contractual relationship that is sometimes lacking in organizations.
- Monitoring any public bidding requirements.
- Identifying with specificity the contractor, including all contact information.
- Clearly establishing the purpose of the contract.
- Establishing the cost of the contract.
- Obtaining any state required attachments or approvals.
- Determining whether the contractor requires a criminal background check because they will be working with children.
- Creating templates that can be used often.
- Legal review will be provided for.
- Ascertaining how much contract administration/oversight is needed for the contract. Will this contract be performed in a very short time or will the contract have a longer term that will require oversight from your organization’s identified contract administrator?
- If the contract requires oversight, milestones, responsibilities and deliverables will be clearly mapped out as well as key dates and meetings will be scheduled with the contractor as needed.
- Your organization’s key responsibilities under the contract will be clearly identified.
- Invoicing procedures will be addressed and monitored.
- Contract closeout procedures will be addressed.
- Last but not least, a record retention process for all of the school’s contracts will be established, whether there is a centralized location for retention or a decentralized method (if dealing with a multi-site system or school).
Educators don’t typically like to deal with contracts, and sometimes a significant culture change within the organization and much education is required. However, an investment in establishing a good contract process on the front end could save an organization a great deal of trouble later on.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information. It is neither legal advice nor is it an advertisement for legal services. Please consult your legal counsel for legal advice regarding contracts.
Ready, Set — Eat Healthy! Is your school ready to implement the HHFKA?
Is your school ready to implement the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA)? Any public or private school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the School Breakfast Program (SBP) must adhere to the new competitive food and beverage regulations of the USDA’s Interim Final Rule implementing the HHFKA. The competitive food and beverage portion of the USDA Interim Final Rule becomes effective on July 1, 2014.
Prior to the enactment of the HHFKA, the Secretary of Agriculture was limited to regulating only those competitive foods and beverages sold in the food service area of the school during meal periods. The HHFKA allows the Secretary of Agriculture to regulate the nutritional standards for ALL foods and beverages sold outside the school meal programs (i.e., NSLP & SBP), on the school campus, at any time during the school day. “School day” is defined as the period from the midnight before to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day.
The USDA’s rules are required to be consistent with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans but the Secretary of Agriculture was also free to consider other authoritative scientific recommendations for nutrition standards in implementing the Interim Final Rule. The rules provide specific limitations on sugar, fat and sodium content as well as caloric restrictions and other content restrictions. Nutrition directors and school nurses at the local school level are encouraged to become familiar with the Interim Final Rule and perform a review of the competitive foods and beverages that are available during the school day to determine their compliance with the new rule.
Does this only apply to food the school sells or to food anyone sells on the school campus? The rule applies to all competitive foods and beverages sold by any person or entity on the school campus during the school day. What about bake sales and other food fundraisers? The HHFKA and the Interim Final Rule provide a special exemption for foods and beverages that do not meet the requirements of the rule if they are sold for the purpose of conducting infrequent school-sponsored fundraisers. The key word here is “infrequent.” The Interim Final Rule leaves it up to state educational agencies to define “infrequent,” so look for an amendment to your state rules on this point. The law makes it clear that vending machines, school stores, snack bars and à la carte sales are not considered “infrequent fundraisers” and must adhere to the Interim Final Rule. Many schools have moved from candy or food fundraisers to gift wrap, t-shirts or other non-food items, which may be a wise decision under the new rule.
The HHFKA and the Interim Final Rule contain additional information and requirements. The purpose of this blog is to provide information. It is neither legal advice nor is it an advertisement for legal services. Please consult your legal counsel for legal advice regarding the HHFKA and the Interim Final Rule.