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This paper by David Ford considers how schools and teachers can respond to the growing number of young people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex and what reasonable steps should be taken to fulfil their duty of care to them. The paper covers such issues as bullying and harassment, how Australian and NSW legislation about unlawful discrimination affects a school’s way of dealing with these students, and a brief word about privacy.
Whenever conflicts arise, schools need to attempt to resolve them whether the parents have a genuine grievance or not. However, even before any conflict arises, schools should seek ways to avoid and minimise potential conflicts.
This paper by Nathan Croot outlines ways in which a school can attempt to avoid conflicts with parents and what to do when these conflicts arise.
Can a school be vicariously liable for the criminal conduct of one of its employees?
This paper looks at a South Australian case (A, DC v Prince Alfred College Inc) where the Court of Appeal found the College was liable for sexual abuse perpetrated by a boarding housemaster.
Unlawful Discrimination and Grooming
A CONTROVERSIAL RELATIONSHIP - 2016
A decision by a Victorian school to terminate the employment of a teacher proved costly - Pearson v Martin  VSC 696. The dismissal took place after it came to the school’s attention that the teacher had begun a sexual relationship with a former student of the school.
But on what grounds had the teacher's employment been terminated? For grooming a student or having sex with an adult former student?
This paper explores the case in detail, giving schools several points to help them navigate these issues and looks at how "grooming" is defined by several organisations.
Paper by David Ford which considers the relationship between the principal and the board from beginning to end, particularly from an employment perspective - and the inevitable governance issues which arise.
David's thesis is that the principal’s employment contract plays a significant part in providing a solid framework for the board/principal relationship to develop and thrive. He focusses on the elements of a best practice contract. The law dictates some of these elements; good governance suggests others.
From one of our readers: "Fantastic read!! Thank you. Some very valuable information for those of us involved in Sport in schools. It is great to have the 'facts' from a legal professional".
Paper by David Ford which examines the law’s response to a variety of practical situations involving school sport, drawing upon legal precedent not only from Australia but also from England and the United States. David considers the school’s duty of care as well as that of coaches, referees, players, parents and volunteers. He considers the current issues surrounding skiing, concussion, privacy, racial discrimination, and drug testing.
by David Ford & Nathan Croot
To what extent are conversations and other communications between school counsellors and their clients (who are, in the main, their students) "confidential"? Students need to feel absolutely relaxed and confident that they can express themselves freely - in anger, in tears and in guilt without inhibition - unconcerned that their frankness will later be used in an attempt to judge or discipline them.
This paper considers the counsellor's duty of confidentiality, the relationship of that duty to privacy law, and the situations in which confidential information may be disclosed and to whom. For example, when must the counsellor disclose to the school principal? Finally, the related issue of admissibility of a counsellor’s notes and knowledge into evidence in court proceedings.
School Discipline - 2014
by David Ford
School discipline, or student management as some schools refer to it, generally is aimed at providing a safe, caring and happy school environment in which students can learn and grow. In this paper, David discusses the need for school rules and discipline policies and the extent to which schools should afford students procedural fairness, particularly when contemplating suspension and expulsion. David also examines the ability of schools to discipline students for misconduct occurring “beyond the school gate” or outside normal school hours and when school leaders should contact the police.
by John Murn
This paper provides advice and options for dealing with that increasingly common phenomenon at New South Wales schools, the very difficult customer. She or, probably more commonly, he typically takes up a disproportionate amount of the principal’s time and the school’s resources more generally.
by Nathan Croot
On 12 March 2014, a series of amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 will take effect. The
Privacy Act is one of many Acts which govern privacy in Australia. One of the key
components of the Privacy Act is that it requires certain entities to comply with privacy
principles. This paper by Nathan Croot presents an overview of the changes as they relate to schools.
by Warwick van Ede
Sometimes it is good to revisit the basics – some of our recent experiences (together with reading the experiences of others in the reports of recent Court decisions) are a good reminder about the need to protect your school’s position when entering into, performing, and terminating various agreements and contracts.
In this article Warwick discusses:
School Building Funds - 2013
by David Ford
A recent Sun-Herald headline exclaimed Elite schools spend $20 million a year on upgrades. While some capital expenditure by independent schools comes from governments, the larger proportion comes from parents. Much of the parent contribution comes in the form of tax deductible donations to the school building fund. What is the basis for schools being able to offer donors the incentive of tax deductibility?
by Luke Scandrett
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) was officially opened on 3 December 2012. There have been many discussions since that time in respect of its scope and powers as the “one-stop-shop regulator” for the not-for-profit sector. So what does it mean for your school?
By Garry Pritchard
We all commence construction projects hoping that everything will go smoothly with just the occasional hiccup. So how do you prepare for the unexpected difficulties that you may encounter? Be prepared for the unexpected with this paper by Garry Pritchard.
Safety Law Essentials for Schools - 2012
by Warwick van Ede
1 January 2012 saw the beginning of some of the most significant changes to take place in Australian Workplace Safety Laws. This date marked the start of a process to “harmonise” Australia’s Work Health & Safety (WH&S) systems. This process is set to be almost completed on 1 January 2013.
In this brief overview of the new regime, focus is on the key areas of change and the implications of those changes for schools.
Paper by Nathan Croot dealing with Schools' legal obligations regarding what they may or may not do in collecting and using information. It is vital that school administrators and teachers are aware of their school’s obligations and take the necessary steps to ensure that the school meets its obligations.
Paper by David Ford dealing with risks involved in off-campus activities and how these risks must be managed.
Paper by Rod Best, Acting Executive Director Accountability & Review, Community Services, prepared for the Legalwise School Law Seminar. Covers such issues as:
A paper by David Ford discussing issues such as:
What if they mislead the school?
Do they have a duty of care to their children?
Can they take discipline of other children into their own hands?
Are they free to sound off about teachers?
Can they come and go as they please?
The true cost of bullying - (paper written for "Teacher - The National Education Magazine") 2009
Paper by Nathan Croot dealing with issues raised by the case of Gregory v State of New South Wales  NSWSC 559.
Paper by David Ford dealing with several issues that often arise in the course of investigations of allegations of reportable conduct against employees in schools; for example, rules of evidence, hearsay, memories, and previous misconduct.
The Enrolment Contract - 2009
Paper by David Ford delivered to the University of New South Wales' School Law Alert Seminar. It contains practical advice about avoiding misleading and deceptive conduct in school marketing, about the best process for entering the enrolment contract, about the terms to include, about how to avoid disability discrimination and family law problems and about fee collection issues.
David Ford’s paper was published in Independent School Business. The paper deals with risk allocation, releases and indemnities, authority to sign contracts and personal liability.
Michael Winram spoke at the 2008 ANZELA conference in Christchurch New Zealand. This paper examines what can be done about defamatory and other material that appears on websites not controlled by Schools.
Paper by David Ford delivered to the University of New South Wales' School Law Alert Seminar. It contains valuable guidance for non-government schools writing discipline policies based on the principles of procedural fairness, which are essential for re-registration with the Board of Studies.
Cyber Bullying - 2007.
Paper by David Ford delivered to the University of New South Wales' School Law Alert Seminar. This paper covers issues such as basis for Tort Liability, duty of care, breach of duty, bullying out of school, liability, cyberbullying, Commonwealth Criminal Code, Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), what teachers must do when faced with criminal conduct, reporting obligations of teachers, and remedies for victims of cyber bullying.
Paper by David Ford presented at the University of New South Wales School Law Alert Seminar. How do Schools fulfil their duty of care to their students and their employees when allegations of child abuse are made against a current employee? This paper covers topics including the legal background to Risk Management, should the School take precautions against a risk of harm?, employment screening, family law, the risk management process, and the Ombudsman's views.
Paper by Michael Winram on privacy issues such as protecting students from unauthorised photographers and withholding students' personal information from parents, students and teachers.
How flat is your playground? - 2006
Paper by Elisabeth Ford discusses the potential for liability arising from uneven playgrounds. June 2006 edition of Teacher magazine.
Caroline Simpson and Prashanth Colombage's article was published in CCH's Schools Alert.
Legal Issues Facing Schools - 2004