Legal help for your school
ACSI's Legal Legislative Services acts as a first response team to state and federal legislation that affects Christian schools. Legal Legislative provides comprehensive support and speaks into relevant issues with clarity and recommended steps to strengthen your school.
With one full-time staff member in a Washington, D.C., office in addition to the Colorado-based team, Legal Legislative monitors legislation, contacts ACSI member schools in the event of potential impact, and provides direction to school leaders as they anticipate and navigate the ramifications of legislation.
Legal Legislative's input and advocacy take many forms:
- General consultation for schools concerning issues such as regional laws, HR law, school policies, and student discipline
- Participation as amicus curiae in various lawsuits around the country that could affect ACSI member schools
- Regional workshops and conferences led by educational and legal experts
- Legal Legislative Update, published three times annually to cover issues affecting non-profit religious education
- Legislative Tracking Map to inform schools of legislation in their states and what new laws mean for them
- Legal Defense Reimbursement Program for schools' attorney fees and litigation costs due to certain types of employee or student claims or lawsuits
- Educator Professional Liability Program to provide coverage to administrators and teachers for personal liability, defense costs, lost wages, and other lawsuit-related expenses
- Legislative Action Center with alerts, updates, and advocacy regarding national and international Christian school and religious liberty issues
- 2016 National Legal Conference, a pilot conference addressing the impact of the same-sex marriage ruling on Christian schools
Director Tom Cathey's role involves shepherding schools and equipping leaders through resources and counsel. He believes the most important step school leaders can take when facing new legal or moral issues is to proactively think through where their school stands and how to respond to specific situations.
"We can't know for certain what will happen in the future based on new legislation," he shares. "I'm trying to prevent our schools from being caught by surprise by helping them do what they can to prepare for what they might face later down the road."
This advice has proved to be valuable for schools as they begin to address the impact of the Supreme Court's Obergefell vs. Hodges decision. Many have reached out to Legal Legislative sharing similar questions:
- Do we need to change our statement of faith?
- What should our admissions policy be for the child of a same-sex couple?
- What does the law require for accommodation of transgender students, especially as pertains to athletics?
- Are we required to make the rental of our facilities available for same-sex weddings?
- Does this decision change our right to hire?
Legal Legislative's response to the same-sex marriage ruling is just one example of the front and back end support schools receive. Through alert emails, articles, creation of a video and presentation addressing eight areas of impact related to the ruling for ACSI regional directors to share at district meetings, and a school handbook produced in partnership with the Alliance for Defending Freedom, Legal Legislative has responded with proactive and practical guidance.
But in the case of such a complex issue, Legal Legislative determined these resources weren't enough. That's why Legal Legislative is offering a special one-day conference to further equip you and your fellow school leaders for the uncertainty of the future.
The conference will feature legal and religious freedom experts and breakouts for specific topics, such as those reflected in the questions above. You'll walk away with confidence about what your school needs to craft into your policies and gain a better understanding of how to balance conviction with compassion.
As schools consider how to respond to the morally nuanced waters our culture is navigating, Dr. Cathey believes our calling as believers ultimately remains the same: to make Jesus' love evident through our love for another (John 13:35). Whether it's in the classroom or the courtroom, his prayer is that schools will serve as beacons of humility and grace, even in the midst of the most divisive issues. And Legal Legislative Services will stand by your school with both practical and pastoral counsel to help you articulate your rights and beliefs.
Become better equipped to lead your school through today's legally and morally complex environment. Register now for ACSI's National Legal Conference in Fort Worth, Texas on February 24.