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Contracts - Who Needs Them?

Employment Contracts - Who Needs Them And What Needs To Be In Them?
Suzanne Bogdan, Fisher & Phillips LLP
(Education Update, No. 1, January 2013)

As indicated in the companion article written by Candice Pinares-Baez,  January begins the hiring season for most schools. Job fairs, conferences, and recruiting are in full force. It is also the time to take a look at your employment contracts to ensure that when you find the perfect employee, you are issuing to them an employment contract that works for you and not against you.

Who Needs An Employment Contract?

Convenience Fee Interpretation - Florida

Fisher & Phillips Legal Interpretation of Convenience Fee Legality in Florida 

We asked Suzanne Bogdan, Chair of the Education Practice Group at Fisher & Phillips to offer a legal opinion as to legality of Florida schools charging convenience fees for parents paying tuition with credit cards. (See enclosed PDF for entire opinion from Fisher & Phillips.) This is part of Ms. Bogdan’s opinion:

Convenience Fees

CEO of Diamond Mind Comments on Convenience Fees

We asked Katherine Novikov, CEO of Diamond Mind Inc., to weigh in on the subject of convenience fees. Currently Diamond Mind work with over 300 independent schools across the country in helping them uses credit cards in various schools transactions, including tuition collection.

Hi Bill,

Convenience Fees in California

CEO of Diamond Mind Comments on Convenience Fees

We asked Katherine Novikov, CEO of Diamond Mind Inc., to weigh in on the subject of convenience fees. Currently Diamond Mind work with over 300 independent schools across the country in helping them uses credit cards in various schools transactions, including tuition collection.

Hi Bill,

Corrective Action Form


Counting Employees for Federal Regulatons

Counting Employees for EEO-1, FMLA, and COBRA

Credit Checks by Employers

Credit Checks by Employers  - Are They Becoming a Thing of the Past?

Checking job applicants' credit as part of the screening process is a common practice, but it is declining.  In 2009, when only two states prohibited such inquiries, a survey by the Society of Human Resource Management reported that 60 percent of employers checked the credit of at least some prospective hires.  Only a year later, that rate dropped to 47 percent.  We expect that rate will continue to fall.  Simultaneously, employers are realizing that screening everyone is generally a poor idea.  For example, in 2010, only 13 percent of employers conducted credit checks on all prospective hires.

Credit Checks in California

Credit Checks in California Now Tougher Than Ever
(Fisher & Phillips LLP Labor Alert) 

Credit Checks In California Now Tougher Than Ever (Fisher & Phillips Labor Alert). Effective January 1, 2012, California employers will have to avoid yet another potential legal hazard that haunts businesses with the threat of costly penalties: the unauthorized use of consumer credit reports regarding job applicants and current employees.

Criminal Background Checks

EEOC Issues New Guidance on Using Criminal Background Check

In April 25, 2012, the EEOC voted 4-1 to adopt new guidance regarding employer use of criminal background checks to screen applicants and current employees. This guidance will affect nearly every employer in the country.

Based on a recent SHRM survey, over 90% of employers use criminal background checks for some applicants or employees and more than 70% of employers screen all their applicants or employees.

Criminal Background Sample Procedures

Sample Procedures for Criminal Background Review

Schools that review applicants' criminal background records must establish procedures that permit a systematic and thoughtful review of the information received.  In addition, the procedures must protect the confidentiality of the applicant and ensure that the agency does not become a repository of criminal records.  Praesidium, Inc. recommends the procedures outlined below. 

Criminal Records

Criminal Records

You have conducted background checks on new staff members at your school, and a criminal history is returned. What do you do?  The answer is: it depends. If you plan to hire the applicant, then you don’t have to do anything. However, if the criminal history may affect the hiring of the applicant, and if the source of the information is a consumer reporting agency, then you must do a number of things.

Crisis Management Planning

Crisis Management Planning

Independent schools continue to be faced with the potential of multiple crises.  It is essential that they coordinate their crisis management planning. The following checklist was summarized from “Practical Information on Crisis Planning” a publication of the U.S. Department of Education. 

Crisis Management Planning Checklist

Checklist for Crisis Managment Planning

following checklist was presented at the 2012 SAIS/MISBO conference as part of the presentation, "School Violence:  Schools Are Not Exempt"

Presenters were:
Bill Rollings, President,School Office Services
Suzanne Bogdan, Education Chair, Fisher&Phillips,LLP
Bill Keslar, President, Building Solutions

Custodian of Records - California

Custodian of Records

Pursuant to Penal Code section 11102.2(b); beginning January 1, 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) shall implement a confirmation program to process fingerprint-based criminal offender record information background responses on individuals designated by applicant agencies to serve as Custodian of Records. Effective July 1, 2011, no person shall serve as an agency Custodian of Records unless they have been confirmed by the DOJ. Every agency must designate at least one Custodian of Records. Criminal justice agency personnel who have undergone a state and federal criminal record background check are exempt from these requirements.

Cyberbullying: A Continuing Concern for Schools

Cyberbullying:  A Continuing Concern for Schools
By J. Freedley Hunsicker, Fisher & Phillips LLP (Philadelphia)

Data Surveys for Independent Schools

The Role of Data Surveys for Independent Schools
Interview with Jim Pugh – Vice President of Statistics, SOS

Deducting Absences from Teachers Wage

 Can You Deduct Partial-Day Absences from Teachers' Salaries?

Here is the article on deducting teacher pay for partial day absences. This is general advice and may not comply with state law. Make sure you consult your employment attorney to confirm your deductions are correct for teachers.

Deferred Compensation IRS

IRS Says New 409A Rule Will Not Affect Teacher Salaries in Upcoming School Year

On August 7, 2007, the Internal Revenue Service reassured teachers and other school employees that new deferred-compensation rules under Section 409A (discussed in the July/August 2007 issue of the Fisher & Phillips’ Education Labor Letter entitled “Are Teachers’ Salaries Deferred Compensation?”) will not affect the way their pay is taxed during the upcoming school year.

Deferred Payroll Election


(Sample payroll schedule election to comply with Internal Revenue Code 409A)

Dental and Vision Plan Subject to Reform

Are Dental and Vision Plans Subject to Health Care Reform?

“Excepted benefits” under the HIPAA portability rules, such as dental-only plans, vision-only plans and most medical flexible spending accounts are not subject to Health Care Reform.

Depart. of Education Mandates on Sexual Assault on Campuses

Dear Colleague . . . "

By Burton Dodd, Fisher & Phillips LLP

(Education Update, No.4, October 2012)


With that disarming salutation, a little over a year ago Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced new Department of Education mandates, issued under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, to eliminate sexual assault on American campuses. Simply worded, but vastly complex as well as controversial in application, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in public and private K-12 schools and universities that receive any federal financial assistance.

Disaster Coverage


Business managers of schools that have sustained major damage from hurricanes report that, to their surprise, their insurance policies excluded payment of some damages incurred. They had not carefully reviewed the actual insurance document before the emergency. We recommend that you sit down with your agent and walk through various emergencies to see what coverage you may or may not have.

Disaster Impact on Workforce

Disaster Impact on the Workplace

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Gustav and Hannah, and with Ike bearing down on the U.S., the attorneys at Fisher & Phillips LLP have updated a list of frequently asked questions regarding how employers should react to such disasters. We first published a similar FAQ article in 2005 in response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Discrimination Due to an Evacuation

Texas State Statute Prohibits Discrimination Because of an Evacuation

Texas Employers and Texas Workers should be aware of the requirements of Chapter 22 of the Texas Labor Code regarding employment discrimination for participation in an emergency evacuation.

Dispensing Medications in Pennsylvania

Dispensing Medications in Pennsylvania Schools

Here is a question from a PAISBOA school: 

We understand new regulations require private schools in Pennsylvania to have a licensed nurse administer all medications given to students. Is this true? What about field trips? We have a trip this summer to Russia. Do we need to send a nurse?

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