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Municipal & School

Many of the legal issues encountered by municipalities and school districts are often quite different than those in  business or industry.

BOOKMARK SHARE

Many of the legal issues encountered by municipalities and school districts are often quite different than those in business or industry. When representing public sector clients, it is critical to be familiar with these issues, how they affect the entity, and their elected and appointed officials and staff who answer to the public.

We work with many municipalities, school districts and authorities as their solicitors, providing the broad range of legal services our clients need. We find strategic solutions to help our clients solve the issues they face.

Attorneys who serve as solicitors act as the “general counsel” for municipalities, school districts, and other public entities. We attend the open meetings held by the organization, and we counsel and assist with the varied issues that arise in operating a local government or school district. These include:

We also serve as special counsel on construction, labor, tax, student activities, and general governance issues for school districts, municipalities and other public boards such as zoning hearing boards and civil service commissions. 

We believe that the best legal advice is that which keeps clients out of litigation, and we work with our clients so that all issues can be fully considered before a final decision is made.

Tucker Arensberg, P.C., also serves as panel defense counsel for various insurers that cover school district and municipal claims.

Our attorneys are involved in the following professional associations and organizations:

  • Pennsylvania School Board Solicitors Association
  • National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • Allegheny County Bar Association – Municipal and School Solicitor Section
  • Local Government Academy 
  • Allegheny League of Municipalities 

Members of the firm are regularly invited to present to municipal and school officials, employees and attorneys on topics of interest to these individuals. Our clients receive updates and training on legal trends and issues affecting them. Also, in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh Tri-State Area School Study Council, the firm publishes the Education Law Report, a periodical summarizing recent legal developments affecting school districts and their administration. Click here to view the latest version of the Education Law Report.

Municipal & School Representative Experience:

  • Representation of large, suburban school district against contractor in claim for breach of energy performance contract resulting in seven figure settlement for district.
  • Provide on-going counsel to municipalities and school districts on issues that arise under the PA Sunshine Act, Ethics Act, Borough Code, Second Class Township Code, Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), Uniform Construction Code (UCC), Right to Know Law, and Public-School Code of 1949.
  • Representation of a second-class township in the prosecution of property maintenance and zoning code enforcement actions from magisterial district courts through appeals to Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court.
  • On-going representation of school districts and individuals in tax assessment appeals for residential and commercial properties before the Board of Property Assessments Appeals and Review (BPAAR) and Court of Common Pleas, Board of Viewers (BOV).
  • Represented municipalities and state and local officials against all nature of 1983 claims.
  • Action before the Pennsylvania Board of Education to prohibit creation of unnecessary replication of services.
  • Litigation to uphold stormwater fees against challenge that the implementation of fees was improper.
  • Represents public school districts, municipalities, and other public entities in contesting claims for construction delay and acceleration damages and extra work claims.
  • Obtained defense verdicts in numerous employment discrimination and civil rights actions on behalf of municipal and federal governments and their employees.
  • Successfully defended a municipal police department in a jury trial where the department was sued for damages allegedly arising from a traffic stop.
  • Successfully represented a municipality in multiple appeals before the Commonwealth Court.
  • Assisted client in achieving tax exempt status as an institution of purely public charity, and for school district clients negotiated settlements with entities claiming such status.
  • Guided clients on clearance requirements under the Child Protective Services Law.
  • After an insurance company declined to defend or cover flooding claims made by a resident against a municipality, our attorneys drafted a letter to the insurance company that convinced the company to reverse its position and provide complete coverage and defense of the resident’s claims. This saved the municipality hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential damages and attorney’s fees.
  • Litigated First Amendment lawsuit against local municipality on behalf of pro bono clients.
  • Reviewed, interpreted, and applied constitutional, statutory, and regulatory matters affecting school entities, staff, and students.
  • Drafted of school district operating policies and contracts.
  • Assisted with special education compliance and disputes.
  • Advised on student disciplinary matters.
  • Advised on personnel and employment matters, including Americans with Disabilities Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Federal discrimination law, hiring, demotion, furlough, discipline, and termination issues.
  • Served as chief negotiator for various professional and non-professional collective bargaining agreements, representing schools throughout the entire Act 88 process including mediation, fact-finding, non-binding arbitration, and court injunctions.
  • Consulted on and litigated a broad range of school personnel issues including labor grievances, unfair labor practice charges, demotion, and discharge proceedings.
  • Act 111 police and fire negotiations and arbitration.
  • Attends public meetings in capacity as solicitor and legal counsel.
  • Prepared responses to requests for public records under the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law.
  • Oversaw the work of appointed insurance counsel defending public sector clients against casualty claims.
  • Worked with public officials to ensure compliance with public sector laws and regulations.
  • Drafted effective and legally compliant ordinances to help shape communities in the Pittsburgh area.
  • Oversaw a delinquent garbage collection program that resulted in the collection of over $160,000.00 during a six-month period for a municipal client.
  • Represented delinquent tax clients by attending magisterial court hearings and taking properties with delinquent real estate taxes through the sheriff sale process from start to finish. Counseling clients on general municipal and school law issues ranging from policy development to statutory and regulatory interpretation to advice on administrative and operational matters.
  • Negotiated collective bargaining agreements, prosecution for, and defense of clients in employee discipline matters and arbitrations.
  • Development of zoning and other land use ordinances, and counseling municipalities on zoning approvals.
  • Development of tax assessment and tax collection programs to ensure proper revenue for municipal/school operations.
  • Drafted contracts and advising on employee benefits and intergovernmental cooperation issues.
  • Advised clients on and litigating disputes over special education (IDEA and Section 504) matters.

THE TEAM

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Irving S. Firman

Serving our clients successfully since 1900

The same attributes that have anchored over a century of success are still our guiding principles today.

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