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Education Education
Practices & Industries Served

Education

Head of the class.

Bernstein Shur’s education law team has great depth and a breadth of experience representing higher education/private secondary schools throughout northern New England.

Working with a diverse array of schools has given our education law team truly unique collective and cross-institutional knowledge. We routinely leverage our group’s insight and expertise to help clients tackle labor disputes, faculty tenure and personnel matters, collective bargaining, interest and grievance arbitration, student misconduct and academic issues, FERPA issues, governance, and pension and health care plans, among other challenges.

We’re not just legal advisors; we’re partners.

As your legal team, we see ourselves primarily as your partners in problem-solving. Accordingly, we’re accessible, responsive, and collaborative—and we take the time to get to know you and understand your school, college, or university’s culture, so we can provide practical solutions to the specific challenges you face. We know from experience that the best long-term strategy for your school may involve more than traditional “legal” counsel. To lessen the likelihood of repeat or future problems, we routinely help craft policies targeted to each school’s individual culture and environment, and provide training seminars to administrators, faculty, and staff.

But we’re ready to go to court if you need us.

Because we provide pragmatic solutions, we’re often able to help clients stay out of the courtroom. However, if going to court is in your best interest, we’ll be right there with you. Our education lawyers are highly experienced, seasoned litigators who are more than ready to represent your needs before any court, arbitrator, or administrative agency.

We know every facet of education law.

We pride ourselves on being prepared for anything. We understand that schools are not unlike small cities and provide a wide range of services to a diverse community of groups and individuals. We also understand that schools have to serve their educational missions while balancing the cost and challenge of compliance with ever increasing government regulation. We’ll help you meet the challenge. We have vast experience dealing with every type of legal issue that schools confront, from unionization, collective bargaining, campus workforce reductions and reorganizations, faculty tenure and employment issues, employee and student disability issues, and discrimination, harassment, and violence on campus. Our broader team also has deep expertise in intellectual property, real estate, tax, benefits, trusts and estates, corporate, and construction law. Moreover, we are very strong in helping clients navigate the constantly changing complexity of Title IX compliance , a growing area of concern for colleges and universities. Whether they’re trying to remain compliant with Title IX, draft compliant policies, or investigate an allegation of misconduct, our clients benefit from our dedicated Title IX team’s specialized counsel; our ability to handle large, complex investigations; and our sensitivity to the media and public relations ramifications these kinds of cases can have.

Plus, we work on our clients’ terms, even when it comes to how we bill.

Because of our experience and expertise, we’re able to work very efficiently and provide predictable, budget-friendly pricing. Additionally, we are willing work out alternative billing arrangements that meet our client’s needs. Our goal is to do what’s best for the client.

A few of our clients
  • University of Maine System
  • University of New England
  • College of the Atlantic
  • Maine College of Art
  • Thornton Academy
  • Fryeburg Academy
  • Carabassett Valley Academy
  • Hebron Academy
  • Maine Central Institute
  • Waynflete School
  • Bridgton Academy
  • Falmouth Academy
  • L’Ecole Francaise du Maine
  • Franklin Pierce University
  • Mill Falls Charter School

Our practice includes:

Workplace & campus investigations

Bernstein Shur’s investigations team has the training and expertise to conduct prompt, thorough, and neutral investigations. When hired as your outside investigator, we help your organization or educational institution in making sound, informed, and legally defensible decisions based on clear investigatory findings.

We frequently serve as neutral outside investigators for colleges, universities, and secondary schools and follow the current laws and guidance on sexual and dating violence from Title IX, the Office of Civil Rights, VAWA, the Campus SaVE Act, and the White House. We understand how to navigate the unique challenges and legal issues presented by these types of complaints, including how to conduct a trauma-informed interview, respect student privacy rights, and ensure an equitable investigation for both complainants and respondents.

We regularly conduct investigations related to:

  • Discrimination (age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, national origin, ethnicity)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Title IX and VAWA (sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, intimate partner violence, and stalking)
  • Failure to accommodate
  • Retaliation/whistleblower
  • Employee or student misconduct
  • Wage and hour violations
  • Violence
  • Bullying
  • Embezzlement/fraud

About our team

After years of representing colleges, universities and secondary schools, Kai McGintee launched a workplace and Title IX investigation practice, and now serves as an independent investigator for employers and schools throughout New England. Kai is an approved investigator by United Educators and has received certifications from the Association of Workplace Investigators, Title IX ASAP Training, and ATIXA (Level Two Civil Rights Investigator). Kai also regularly provides consulting services and training on sexual misconduct issues to school administrators. Kai is a frequent speaker and commentator on the topic of student sexual misconduct. She was on a panel of Title IX experts at the Sports Lawyers Association Annual Conference in Los Angeles and has been quoted in the Washington Post and ESPN.

Sara Hellstedt has fought for schools, institutions, students and families and has extensive knowledge of employment and student rights and the education system. Sara has represented public and private sector education clients on a variety of matters, and has handled complaints before the Maine Human Rights Commission and the federal Office for Civil Rights. Sara has received training to conduct sexual misconduct investigations by United Educators, and the National Center for Campus Public Safety (developed by the White House Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault.) Sara is a former labor relations manager from the University of Maine System and has extensive experience counseling schools on risk management and consulting on employment, student affairs, and Title IX/Clery Act compliance.

For more information about our investigation services, please contact Kai McGintee at kmcgintee@bernsteinshur.com or 207 228-7116 and Sara Hellstedt at shellstedt@bernsteinshur.com or 207 228-7124.