The School Law Institute
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

Skip to navigation menu

Skip to main content

Gary Orfield

Ph.D., is Distinguished Research Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning at UCLA.  His research focuses on the study of civil rights, education policy, urban policy, and minority opportunity. Co-founder and director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, he now serves as co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA. His central interest has been the development and implementation of social policy, with a central focus on the impact of policy on equal opportunity for success in American society. Recent works include eight co-authored or co-edited books since 2004 and numerous articles and reports. He has also been involved in the development of governmental policy and has served as an expert witness or special master in several dozen court cases related to his research, including the University of Michigan Supreme Court case, which upheld the policy of affirmative action in 2003.
Patricia gandara

Patricia Gandara

Ph.D., is Research Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA. She received her PhD in educational psychology from UCLA. She has been a bilingual school psychologist, a social scientist with the RAND Corporation, and a director of education research in the California State Legislature. Since 1990 she has been a professor of education in the University of California system. She also served as commissioner for postsecondary education for the State of California, associate director of the Linguistic Minority Research Institute, and the co-director of PACE (Policy Analysis for California Education). She is currently co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA and serves as a commissioner on President Obama's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.  She has written or edited seven books and more than 100 articles and reports on educational equity for racial and linguistic minority students, school reform, access to higher education, the education of Latino students, and language policy.

John B. King, Jr.

Ed.D., J.D., is the Senior Advisor Delegated Duties of Deputy Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education, a position he assumed in January 2015. In this role, he oversees a broad range of management, policy, and program functions. Previously Dr. King served as the Commissioner of Education for the State of New York. He was among the nation's youngest state education leaders and the first African-American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State education commissioner.  Earlier, King served as a Managing Director of Uncommon Schools, a non-profit charter management organization operating some of the highest performing urban public schools in New York and New Jersey. He was also a Co-Founder and Co-Director for Curriculum & Instruction of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School. Dr. King holds a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, an M.A. in the Teaching of Social Studies from Teachers College, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and an Ed.D. in Educational Administrative Practice from Teachers College.

Rhoda E. Schneider

J.D., General Counsel and Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Institute co-chair). For over 30 years, Rhoda Schneider has been chief legal counsel to the commissioner, state board, and department staff. She has advised six successive commissioners and served twice herself as acting commissioner. Besides providing legal guidance to the commissioner and the agency, she and her staff also publish advisories for school and district leaders, parents and students, and other constituents on the state and federal laws affecting public elementary and secondary schools. The issues of education law and policy that she addresses include standards-based education reform, civil rights, charter schools, school finance and governance, student assessment, special education, school and district accountability, student rights and responsibilities, and educator licensure. Rhoda is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the editor of the MCLE book, School Law in Massachusetts.

Maree Sneed

J.D., Ph.D., is a senior partner at the Washington, DC law firm Hogan Lovells and director of the firm’s nationally prominent education practice. She is on the Board of Directors for Magnet Schools of America. She has served on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and as a board member and secretary of the National School Boards Foundation. She advises school districts, educational associations, and private companies in the education sector on state and federal legal issues. Previously she worked as a teacher and administrator in the Montgomery County Public Schools.

Jay Lefkowitz

J.D., lead plaintiffs’ attorney in Wright v. State of New York, is a senior partner in the litigation practice of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He is also an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, where he teaches a seminar on Supreme Court advocacy. He has served as lead trial and appellate counsel in a wide variety of substantive areas, including shareholder disputes, antitrust, and product liability.  He currently serves on Advisory Boards for many organizations, including Columbia Law School, NYU Alexander Hamilton Center and Barnard College.  His public service career includes serving as a senior White House advisor to two presidents, and as United States Special Envoy on Human Rights in North Korea. He earned his J.D. in 1987 from Columbia Law School and his A.B. in History from Columbia College.  In its 2013 release of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America,” The National Law Journal described him as “a leading voice on school choice issues.”

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. Parker’s work with the ACLU has brought needed attention to the school-to-prison-pipeline, which tracks many young Black and Latino students from the principal’s office to the nation’s prisons. Previously, Parker was Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau under New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.  There he oversaw the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in housing, employment, voting, public accommodations and credit. He spent 14 years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he supervised the litigation of scores of cases throughout the country in matters involving K-12 education, affirmative action, and equal educational opportunity.  Parker is a graduate of Middlebury College and Harvard Law School.  He has numerous publications on housing discrimination, educational equity, affirmative action, and testing, and has served as an adjunct professor at New York Law School.

Michael A. Rebell

J.D., 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 promote equity and excellence in education and to overcome the gap in educational access and achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged students throughout the United States.  He is the author of five books and dozens of articles on issues involving law and education. Previously, Mr. Rebell was the co-founder, executive director and counsel for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. In CFE v. State of New York, the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, declared that all children are entitled under the state Constitution to the "opportunity for a sound basic education" and it ordered the State of New York to reform its education finance system to meet these constitutional requirements. Mr. Rebell also serves as a consultant to attorneys, advocates and policymakers involved in education reform and education litigation throughout the country, and he is currently counsel for the plaintiffs in New Yorkers for Students Educational Rights v. State of New York.

Perry A. Zirkel

J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., is University Professor of Education and Law at Lehigh University, where he has held the Iacocca Chair in Education and has served as Dean of the College of Education. He has more than 1,400 publications on various aspects of school law, with an emphasis on legal issues in special education. He writes a regular column for Principal magazine and did so previously for both Phi Delta Kappan and Teaching Exceptional Children. Past president of the Education Law Association and co-chair of the Pennsylvania special education appeals panel from 1990 to 2007, in 2013 he received the Research into Practice Award from the American Educational Research Association and the Excellence in Research Award from AERA’s Division A, and in 2014 he received the University Council of Educational Administration's Edwin Bridges award for significant contributions to the preparation and development of school leaders.

Richard Casagrande

J.D., is general counsel to the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), a position he has held since 2010. He represents NYSUT as a defendant in Wright v. State of New York. Previously, as a member of Hinman Straub P.C., he represented individual employees and several public and private sector unions. He also served for many years as general counsel to the New York State Public Employees Federation, a union representing over 50,000 professional State employees. Mr. Casagrande has litigated many employee rights' cases involving tenure and due process, and has argued numerous cases before the State Court of Appeals, New York's highest court. Mr. Casagrande received his B.A. from Colgate University and his J.D. from Albany Law School where, from 1998 through 2005, he was a member of the adjunct faculty. He is a member of the Labor sections of the ABA and NYSBA, and has been a frequent CLE presenter on a variety of labor and employment issues.

Jay P. Heubert

Institute Faculty Chair, is a Professor of Law and Education at Teachers College and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. For thirty years at Columbia and Harvard, he has taught courses on education law, policy, and practice for students in education, law, and related fields.  His research focuses on civil rights issues, including desegregation, charter schools’ obligations to serve students with disabilities, and high-stakes testing. He has also served as chief counsel to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education, a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, a specialist on desegregation and gender equity in Philadelphia, and a high-school English teacher in rural North Carolina. He also served as study director to a National Research Council committee conducting a Congressionally-mandated study of high-stakes testing published as High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation. A Carnegie Scholar, in June 2001 he received the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s annual Alumni Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education.


School Safety Issues

  • The schools’ authority to make and enforce rules governing the conduct of students and staff, on campus and off

  • Search and seizure, including drug testing

  • The schools' role in addressing child abuse


Equity Issues

  • Issues of race and poverty in education

  • Race-conscious policies after the Supreme Court's 2007 desegregation decision

  • Harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity

  • Immigrants and English Learners: Language Policy and Regulation


Charter Schools

  • Issues of law, policy, and practice 


Special Education

  • Requirements under the I.D.E.A., Section 504, and the A.D.A.

  • Recent court decisions; current policy and implementation issues 


Standards and Accountability

  • Federal Education Policy in Flux: NCLB and Race to the Top

  • Testing for tracking, promotion, and graduation 


Fiscal Equity and the Right to an Adequate Education


Free-Speech Issues, including the Internet

  • Student free speech

  • Teacher free speech

  • Internet use, cyber-bullying, and other technology issues


Educators and the Law

  • Improving educator-lawyer collaboration

  • Practicing preventive law

  • Keeping current on legal developments

“This is one of the best, most useful classes I have taken at TC.”

-M.A. Candidate, Politics & Education

“Excellent, relevant topics. Useful and interesting readings.”

-Higher Ed. Administrator

“As a new administrator this overall institute has been incredibly enlightening and has given me a sense of renewal.”

-Ed.D Candidate, Urban Educational Leaders Program

“The School Law Institute opened my eyes to a history of challenges and a future of possibility in the fields of both education and law. The unbelievable guest speakers, experts in law and education, provide School Law Institute students a once in a lifetime learning opportunity.”

 – Graduate student in higher education, 2012

“Truly a greatest hits selection of law issues and potentially life/career changing for me.”

–Education advocate, 2012

“I have been in the field of education for 33 years, and I learned something new every day! The week was the hall of fame for the world of education.”

- Middle school principal, 2012

“All speakers were highly engaging- [I] loved small group discussions of case studies and opportunities for everyone to comment throughout.”

- K-8 Curriculum Coordinator and Instructional Coach, 2012

“Despite being a foreign student unfamiliar with American laws, the course provided me a framework for thinking about the relationship between the law and education, the rights of the school, teacher, and students. The skills I learned will certainly be applicable to my local context. Further, where laws, statues and regulations don’t exist, I am inspired to advocate for them. Specifically relevant were the topics of harassment and bullying, free speech, school authority, English language learners, and diversity.”

– Graduate student from Singapore 2012.