School Law Institute

Teachers College Columbia University

What are the topics?

Teachers College Columbia University


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Who should attend

The Institute serves policy makers, policy analysts, and researchers; school-board and charter-school-board members; current and aspiring teachers and administrators in traditional public schools and charter schools; district-, state-, and national-level administrators; special educators; bilingual/ESL staff; guidance counselors and psychologists; assessment staff; curriculum developers and teacher educators; journalists; union reps; education lawyers; and advocates.

About the course

The School Law Institute is an exciting, nationally recognized program that will take place in air-conditioned space at Columbia Law School. Now in its 30th year, originally at Harvard and now at Teachers College, this one-week course tackles pressing issues in law and education. The course has consistently received high praise from Teachers College students, practicing educators, policy analysts, researchers, advocates, charter-school staff, and other individuals concerned about legal issues in public K-12 education. It is also quite popular among Continuing Professional Studies students, taking a practical and innovative approach to professional development and learning.


Today’s complex, polarized debates about K-12 education make this an ideal time for a program like this. Every day brings important new developments on such critical issues as:

  • Critical changes in immigration law, policy, and practice (immigrants’ rights, DACA, etc.);
  • Important new developments in language policy and regulation;
  • Fiscal equity and the right to an adequate education;
  • Accelerating achievement using heterogeneous grouping; detracking;
  • Student and teacher free-speech rights;
  • The Internet, social media, and cyberbullying;
  • Special education (IDEA), Section 504, and Title II of the ADA;
  • High-stakes testing and accountability; ESSA;
  • Charter schools, voucher programs, and other forms of school choice;
  • Exploring the effects of racial attitudes in K-12 education: Implicit bias and the school-to-prison pipeline;
  • Affirmative action: The use of race, ethnicity, and SES in student assignment and admissions
  • Bullying/Harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion;
  • The schools’ authority to discipline students and staff for on- and off-campus misconduct;
  • Search and seizure, drug testing;
  • Child abuse reporting and prevention: The schools' responsibility;
  • Tort liability: The schools’ legal responsibility for injuries to students and staff;
  • Improving collaboration between educators, lawyers, researchers, and families; and
  • Practicing preventive law, keeping current on legal developments.

We’ll explore these issues through hypotheticals, small- and large-group discussions, simulations, and lectures, considering legal and non-legal (educational, administrative, ethnical, political, and financial) factors.


Gary Orfield

Gary Orfield is Distinguished Research Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests are in the study of civil rights, education policy, urban policy, and minority opportunity. He was co-founder and director...

Patricia Gandara

Patricia Gándara, Ph.D., is Research Professor and Co-Director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. She is also Director of Education for the University of California-Mexico Initiative. Gándara is an elected fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Academy ...

Michael Rebell

Michael A. Rebell is an experienced litigator, administrator, researcher, and scholar in the field of education law.He is the executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity and Professor of Law and Educational Practice at Teachers College, Columbia University. The Campaign seeks to pro...

Rhoda Schneider

Rhoda Schneider, J.D. (Institute Co-Chair), is General Counsel and Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. For over 35 years she has been chief legal counsel to the commissioner, state board, and department staff. She has advised seven ...

Dennis Parker

Dennis D. Parker, J.D., is the Director of the ACLU National Office's Racial Justice Program, where he coordinates the racial justice work done by the ACLU's national office and its affiliates. He has testified before the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues: Minorities and the Right to Educat...

Maree Sneed

Maree Sneed, J.D., Ph.D., is recognized in the education industry as a lawyer who helps school districts, independent schools, educational institutions, and educational companies solve their most complex problems. For three decades, clients have sought Maree's advice as a result of her experience...

John King

John B. King, Jr., Ed.D., J.D., is the President and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that aims to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. He served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 2016 through 2017. In tapping him ...

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School Law Institute at Teachers College Columbia University

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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Because of COVID-19, many providers are cancelling or postponing in-person programs or providing online participation options.

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