KingSpry | Policy Mandates Challenge Schools To Keep Pace

Legislation By Policy: Policy Mandates Challenge Schools to Keep PACE

Posted on June 22nd, 2021
by John E. Freund, III

Increasingly over the last few years, both State and Federal legislators have written laws directed at some broad public policy purpose, but without the legal or practical wherewithal to actually implement them on the local level.

Notwithstanding, the newfound popularity in legislation policies remain the low man on the legal totem pole. 

A policy may be required by law, but it doesn’t have the Power of the Law. 

Webster defines “policy” as a “prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs or alternatively, as a course or method of action or a guide to determine a future course of action.”

Black’s Law Dictionary defines Policy as “The general principles by which a government is guided in its management of public affairs….” The absence of written policies can cause all manner of havoc from audit citations to financial penalty.  Perhaps more significant is the liability written policies can either avoid or foment.

In a pair of 1998 Supreme Court cases, the existence of written policies prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace were deemed to provide an affirmative defense of employer liability when the policy was properly constructed and distributed to employees. Faragher v City of Boca Raton and Burlington Industries, Inc v Ellerth (1998)

On the other hand, polices that do not confirm with law  and can be linked to some harm or violation of rights can result in the government body being found vicariously liable for acts of its agents. Monell v. Dept of Social Services of NYC (1978)

Below is a list of some of the polices that schools are required to have as a matter of Federal and State law. Check your policies against this list.

Policies Required by Federal Laws

  • Age Discrimination Act
  • Grievance Proceedings
  • Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response
  • Asbestos Management Plans
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
  • Programs Section of Child Nutrition Act
  • Professional Standards for State and Local School Nutrition
  • Children’s Internet Protection Act
  • ESSA Internet Safety Policy
  • Copyright Act
  • Drug-Free Workplace Act 
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Minimum Wage Employer Notice Requirements
  • Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • Public Health Services Act
  • Individuals with Disabilities Act
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
  • Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (Map-21)
  • Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment
  • Parental Access to Instructional Material
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994


Policies Required by PA State Law

  • Use of Tobacco in Schools
  • ESOL
  • School District Policies and Rules
  • Discrimination
  • Special Education Plans
  • Child Find
  • Positive Behavior Support
  • Facilities
  • School Administrator’s Handbook
  • Building Use by Other Agencies and Groups
  • Suspensions
  • Confidentiality of Information
  • Interstate Commission of Education Opportunity for Military Children
  • Early Warning System
  • Postsecondary Institution Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Policy and Online Reporting System
  • Collective Bargaining, Matters of Managerial Policy
  • Safe Schools
  • Pupils and Attendance
  • Duties and Powers of School Boards
  • School District Financial Recovery
  • Authority of Teachers, Vice Principals, Principals Over Pupils
  • School Safety and Security – Assessment Criteria
  • School Safety and Security – Possession of Weapons Prohibited
  • School Safety and Security – Compulsory Education 
  • School Health Services – Asthma Inhalers and Epinephrine Auto-Injectors
  • Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention
  • Dating Violence Education
  • Open Campus Cooperative Agreement
  • Interscholastic Athletics Accountability

For a detailed chart of school laws, please click here.

Bottom Line for Schools

Some policies are important as a matter of good management. Others are required by Law. Schools are advised to check their policies against those mandated policies listed here or have their legal counsel review their policies for compliance. As policy requirements constantly change, schools should regularly review their polices together with legal counsel to ensure they have the most correct policies appropriate for their specific needs. 

If you have a question, please contact your legal counsel or one of the Education attorneys at KingSpry.


School Law Bullets are a publication of KingSpry’s Education Law Practice Group. John E. Freund, III, is our editor. This article is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.