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School Leaders' Liability

The School Leaders’ Liability practice group of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin represents and defends school leaders, school boards and all educational institutions including; public and private schools, school districts, charter schools, cyber charter schools, colleges and universities in claims and suits brought against them.

Our attorneys handle a full complement of administrative, state and federal litigation matters, including, but not limited to:

  • Special Education Due Process (IEP, §504 including placement, tuition, compensatory education, attorneys' fees and Child Find)
  • Student Rights – including free speech, locker searches, etc.
  • Bullying and Anti-Bullying Policies
  • Employee Discrimination/Harassment/Retaliation – discipline, equal opportunity and equal pay (all federal, state laws and local ordinances prohibiting discrimination / harassment based upon protected classes)
  • Employee Grievances/Employer Investigation
  • Board Policies and Procedures
  • Educator Complaints
  • Educator Misconduct
  • Educator Due Process (termination or other discipline based upon performance)
  • Student Discipline
  • All manner of personal injury claims including those subject to the Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act
  • Sexual misconduct


We also offer comprehensive services for colleges and universities in a variety of litigation areas including, but not limited to:

  • All manner of Personal Injury claims, including those stemming from on-campus violence
  • Environmental disputes
  • Health, Safety and Security matters
  • Tenure disputes
  • Civil Rights issues
  • All manner of Employment Claims
  • Student Education and Privacy Rights
  • Student Discipline
  • Construction Litigation and Premises Liability
  • Intellectual Property and Technology Claims
  • Clery Act Violations
  • Sexual misconduct


A significant strength of our practice group lies in the diversity of our coverage areas throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Florida. Our attorneys appear regularly before administrative hearing officers, investigative agencies and federal and state court judges where they bring to bear the experience and knowledge of the local jurisdictions where they practice and the communities where our clients conduct the "business of education."

Our practice group appreciates the necessity of working together with our clients in a practical, result-oriented approach to achieve the most pragmatic, cost-efficient results that are satisfactory to our various school boards. We welcome the opportunity to handle your school leaders' matters. We gladly provide our clients with general education and employment matter consultations, training, seminars and presentations at mutually convenient locations for your staff.

May 11, 2017
Successfully defended a special education due process hearing officer in a civil rights action filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  ​The parent of a child with special needs initially filed a due process complaint against the local...
Dec 6, 2016
We successfully defended a special education due process hearing officer in a civil rights action filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  ​The parent of a child with special needs initially filed a due process complaint against their...
Aug 25, 2016
Obtained summary judgment in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of a private school that had allowed a coach to resign after he exchanged thousands of text messages with a student, some of which were alleged to be...
Apr 21, 2016
Successfully defended an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against our client, a local school district, which was alleged to have violated the rights of a qualified student with a disability under...
Jan 22, 2016
Marshall Dennehey won a Third Circuit victory over a former teacher who appealed a summary judgment ruling in favor of the teacher's Pennsylvania school district. The teacher was fired for performance reasons but claimed she was fired in...
Jun 8, 2015
Won a dismissal of a school board member on a 12(b)(6) motion. The board member was sued for defamatory comments made during a public school board meeting about a teacher who was terminated from her employment with the district. The board member was...
Feb 16, 2015
Successfully represented a Pennsylvania school district in a special education due process hearing. A high school student with Type 1 Diabetes, who was a member of the high school marching band, tried out to play bass drum in the percussion ensemble...
Feb 16, 2015
Obtained summary judgment in favor of a Pennsylvania school district and its administrators who terminated a high school teacher for blogging derogatory comments about her students.  The plaintiff argued that her blog entries were free speech...
Defense Digest Article March 1, 2017
Defense Digest, Vol. 23, No. 1, March 2017 by Christopher J. Conrad, Esquire Key Points Parents of children with special needs who allege educational harm must exhaust administrative remedies under the IDEA before filing suit in federal..., Defense Digest, Vol. 23, No. 1, March 2017. Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal...
Defense Digest Article September 1, 2013
by Joseph J. Santarone, Jr., Esq.* For many years, Marshall Dennehey has defended school districts, private and religious schools, charter schools, colleges and universities in pre-litigation, litigation, trial and appellate matters. As is our..., Defense Digest, Vol. 19, No. 3, September 2013 Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide...
Defense Digest Article September 1, 2013
By James A. Bosakowski, Esq.* Key Points: In Morrow v. Balaski, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 11246 (3d Cir. Jun. 5, 2013), under the circumstances alleged, children who are violently bullied in school were not..., Defense Digest, Vol. 19, No. 3, September 2013 Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide...
Seminar Jun 6, 2013
This live seminar is designed for teachers and administrators serving grades K-12, principals, vice-principals, superintendents, counselors, school psychologists, guidance counselors, social workers, school nurses and school support staff. School...
Seminar May 28, 2015
Claudia Costa will participate as a moderator and panelist at the PLUS Hartford Chapter seminar meeting on May 28 at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Claudia and a panel will discuss "Actions Against Schools for Bullying and Sexual...

Chair

Joseph J. Santarone Jr.
Chair, Public Entity & Civil Rights Practice Group
(215) 575-2626
jjsantarone@mdwcg.com

Co-Chair

Sharon M. O'Donnell
Shareholder
(717) 651-3503
smodonnell@mdwcg.com

Related Practice Areas

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