Attorney for Education Issues

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Daughter's sexual harrassment at school

June 2013

My daughter has recently been sexually harassed at school. (breasts grabbed, touched inappropriately) She reported the incident and the school did not respond. I am looking for a lawyer for this situation. I am hoping to find one that will work on contingency. Any advice/referrals will be appreciated. flustered mom

Michael Sorgen (510.919.3586 msorgen [at] handled the case (settled in 2012) of the Berkeley teen who was harassed by a counselor at Berkeley High in 2010.

Looking for a lawyer to review preschool contract

Oct 2010

Hi There, We moved to the area last year, signed a contract for a preschool and are finding ourselves very unhappy with the school so far this year. We've had only amazing experiences with preschools in the past, so I'm taken back by the lack of communication, and what seems like poor care etc at our current school. We signed a fairly stringent contract for the year but would like to get out of it. I'm unsure of my legal rights around this and am looking for a good lawyer in the Berkeley area to help us out. Thanks so much for your recommendations! (I'm not looking for advice about what to do with the school, adjustments etc... with three kids I've become somewhat of a ninja.. thanks!) freaked out mom

You didn't mention this, so I'll ask: Did you try talking to the director and ask to have the contract terminated? They may also feel that your family isn't a good fit for their school and have a waiting list to readily fill your spot. I once got out of a preschool contract by just asking. You might have to pay for an additional month but it would probably be less than a lawyer's fees. I'd ask before I ran to a lawyer. If they don't agree to terminate, you can mention your lawyer and then they may be very anxious to get rid of you. talk is cheaper than a lawyer

It's a good idea to have an attorney look over the contract so you understand exactly what you each agreed to, and what the remedies or consequences are for breaches of the contract. You may not need to hire an attorney to get out of the contract, depending on the circumstances. If you don't feel negotiating on your own to terminate the contract is going to be effective, this is a situation in which a mediator may be very useful. Mediators facilitate discussion during the negotiation, facilitate mutual understanding and problem-solving, and can help repair relationship rifts. They can also help both sides keep an eye on the strengths and weaknesses of their ''case'' and keep the focus on why it is advantageous to resolve the dispute rather than continue it. Mediators do not provide legal advice. Ilene

Wrongful expulsion lawyers?

Dec 2009

My teen-age daughter has been wrongfully expelled from a private high school in the East Bay. We are wondering if there are lawyers in the area who can represent us and our daughter in bringing a civil suit against the school. Outraged Parent

Try calling DREDF, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. Located in Berkeley, it is charged with protecting the civil rights of the disabled. Even though your daughter does not have a disability, they may be able to put you in touch with a civil rights lawyer who can help you. I worked with Ann McDonald-Cacho but I imagine any of the counselors would be able to help identify resources. Nancy

Attorney for dealing with gifted education

July 2004

Does anyone know an attorney who specializes in educational issues? We're looking for some legal opinions and help dealing with school officals ignoring requests for public information and non-compliance with the education code regarding gifted education. The archived information and previous questions deal specifically with special ed and the American Disabilities Act. Thanks! anonymous for this one

There are two good websites that have lots of info about special education, IDEA and ADA.
There is, for obvious reasons, more info about getting help for kids who are struggling but there is info about gifted education. Ellen

Need help advocating for Cal. state standards at private school

Sept 2003

Anybody out there able to recommend an attorney who deals with education issues? Is there such a genre of attorney? The situation is, roughly, wanting an attorney to help prevail on the board of a private school to impliment/consider changes regarding curriculum (trying to meet Cal. state standards as put forth by the Dept. of Edu., for one). The ideal attorney would also try to effect that an independent consultant come in and evaluate an existing teacher and class. We are trying to bring about change constructively in our school, so we would appreciate someone expert in matters regarding enforcing and evaluating education standards from a legalistic point of view. Thank you Optimist

I sent a message out to my association on your post and the following person was suggested: Jane Reid (in Sebastopol) and her associates Sherman & Ziegler (in S.F.) while engaged in a public school battle w/ our daughter's district. They specialize in education law and should be able to help. Jane's # is 707-874-9539 Sherman & Ziegler are @ 415-924-1300 Good luck. Juliette

I do not believe that private schools in CA are under any legal mandate to follow state academic guidelines. Many schools do, but to varying degrees and with modifications to suit their particular philosophies and approaches--hence the ''independence'' of independent schools. anon

I think if you want your school to closely follow California Standards, then you need to go to public school... I think the whole point of independent schools is that they DON'T have to follow California standards. I think getting a lawyer to try and get them implemented will only set up an adversarial relationship with the school, and not\\ lead to any change. Anon.