Education is an inherently moral matter and, as such, raises deep questions of purpose, values and responsibility. It is moral because it involves the relationship between one generation and another, a relationship that helps to determine the direction and quality of human life. At the same time, morality is a highly contested issue, which tends to foster intense disagreement around simple questions such as “what is the right thing to do in a given situation?” Decisions are seldom calculated by administrative technique and politics alone; they must be informed by a larger sense of purpose and guided by informed ethical considerations.
This intent of the course is two-fold. First, aspiring leaders must have the legal capacity to deal effectively with a variety of legal issues amid imperfect conditions. Leaders must respond to educational, administrative, political, ethical, and financial questions and consider ways of using law creatively to prevent litigation and to advance important educational objectives. Second, it is incumbent upon aspiring leaders to be mindful to the scope of their influence. Leaders must realize they operate in complex organizations and political environments wherein competing values and beliefs must be moderated toward wise and just ends.
In the course, students are required to demonstrate mastery of legal knowledge through the keeping of a legal reflections journal, individual case briefs, and group presentations covering timely and relevant legal topics (e.g., student speech). Legal themes addressed in the course will include free speech, freedom of religion, viewpoint discrimination, assessment and tracking, the schools’ authority to regulate student and staff conduct, on campus and off, equity, equality, and equal protection, and bullying, harassment, and verbal abuse.