COSA 2024 School Law Seminar

School attorneys from across the country gather in New Orleans April 4-6 for the annual COSA Spring School Law Seminar. Earn up to 12 hours of continuing legal education credit* while updating yourself on current law and litigation affecting public schools, discussing best practices, and networking with your colleagues. Hear from nationally-renown authorities on hot topics including quickly-evolving standards affecting student and staff rights.

*This COSA course is eligible for up to 12 hours of credit in most jurisdictions with mandatory CLE requirements. Restrictions may apply.


Keynote Speaker

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky 

Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor
University of California Berkely School of Law

Registration Fees

Registration Registration Deadline  State Association
Counsel Member State
Law Students  In House Counsel COSA Members  Non-Members
Early Bird  By Dec. 8, 2023   Complimentary  $95 $700  $775  $1,075 
Standard  After Dec. 8, 2023   Complimentary  $95 $775  $875   $1,075

Add-Ons (Separate Registration Required)

In House Counsel Work-Alike Meeting (COSA Member In-House Counsel & Government Attorneys Only) $75
State Association Counsel Work-Alike Meeting (NSBA State Association Staff & State Association Outside Counsel Only) $75

Interested in attending the NSBA 2024 Annual Conference, April 6-8? Register for the COSA School Law Seminar first and select NSBA 2024 Annual Conference to receive a discounted NSBA 2024 registration.

Schedule-at-a-Glance (as of Oct. 27, 2023)

9 a.m. – 1 p.m.  COSA Workalike Group Meetings and Lunch
  • In House Counsel
  • State Association Counsel

1:20 – 2:20 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions 
2:30 – 3:30 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions  
3:30 – 4 p.m.  Networking Break 
4:15 – 5:30 p.m.
Opening General Session 
5:45 – 6:45 p.m. Sponsored Reception 

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.  General Session 1
9:45 – 10:45 a.m. General Session 2  
11 a.m. – Noon  General Session 3 
Noon – 1:15 p.m.  Lunch On Your Own 
1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions
2:25 – 3:25 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions
3:30 – 4:45 p.m.  General Session 
5 – 6 p.m.  Reception 

8:30 – 9:30 a.m. General Session Keynote
9:45 – 10:45 a.m.  General Session
10:50 – 11:05 a.m. COSA Business Meeting & Annual Election
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  General Session: Ethics


  • Thursday, April 4

    1:20 – 3:30 p.m. | Concurrent Sessions


    Concurrent Session 1: School Law Bootcamp

    1:20 – 2:20 p.m.
    Back to the Schoolhouse Gate: Student Rights and Discipline

    Three practitioners who frequently advise school administrators on student civil rights and disciplinary issues share insights on advising clients on student speech rights, search and seizure, and the expulsion process. The presenters will cover the basics of federal legal standards in these areas, and provide checklists practitioners can use when approaching student matters.
    Speaker: Michael Miller, Spencer Lewis, and Callen Sterling, Oregon School Boards Association, Salem, OR

    2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
    Religion in Schools
    Chris Gilbert literally wrote the book on the First Amendment in public schools! Join a true authority on issues involving religion and public schools for an insightful look at the legal standards at play.

    Speaker: Chris Gilbert, Thompson Horton, Houston, TX

    Concurrent Session 2: Labor & Employment

    1:20 – 2:20 p.m. 
    Diversity, Equity and Inclusion after Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

    The speaker will explore how the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision invalidating Harvard and UNC’s use of race in admissions is affecting employer diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Join this informative session for a review of applicable caselaw from across the nation.

    Speaker: Howard Miller, Bond, Schoeneck & King, NY

    2:30 – 3:30 p.m. 
    Impasse and Strike: How to Advise School Districts
    Two veterans of employee strikes offer wisdom on advising school district clients in these challenging situations. The presentation will focus on legal and practical considerations and draw on many years of experience.

    Speakers: Tony Loizzi, Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn, IL; Nicholas J. Dominello, Valerio, Dominello & Hillman, MA

    4:15 – 5:30 p.m. | Opening General Session

    Calm in the Storm: How the Law Balances Public Interests and Individual Rights in School Board Meetings
    Four COSA members with decades of school board meetings under their collective belts discuss how First Amendment rights have been applied and balanced in the public school board meeting context. The panelists will review recent court rulings on public participation at board meetings, flavored with their own experiences, wit, and wisdom.

    Panelists: John Foster, Division Counsel, Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church, VA; Jim Walsh, Walsh Gallegos Treviño, Kyle & Robinson, Austin, TX; Kathy Dupuy-Bruno, School Board Attorney and General Counsel, School District of Lee County, FL;

    Moderator: Margaret-Ann Howie, Baltimore County Public Schools (MD)

    5:45 | Sponsored Reception (Offsite)

    A Toast to Education Excellence!
    Come kick off the seminar with the Phelps Education team! Food will be provided.

    Sponsored by: Phelps

  • Friday, April 5

    8:30 – 9:30 a.m. | General Session 1

    Student Gender Rights Update: How Courts, Legislatures, and Agencies are Addressing Fluidity, Athletics, Sex Discrimination, and More 
    Student gender rights have dominated Title IX and 14th Amendment legal analysis in the last decade and we're only heating up. With or without the revised Title IX regulations in effect, the legislature, courts, and OCR are considering the rights of gender creative students in a number of school contexts: use of facilities, participation in sports, counselor-student confidentiality, pronouns, field trips, and more. Jessica Heiser, a school attorney and certified DEIJ practitioner, and Kacey Ramsey support general counsel and in-house counsel across the country on the complicated legal landscape for the fastest growing group of students in K-12 schools.

    Speaker: Jessica Heiser and Kacey Ramsey, Imprint Legal Group, Noblesville, IN

    9:45 – 10:45 a.m. | General Session 2

    AI in the Workplace: Legal Concerns, Practical Approaches
    Employers have been using Artificial Intelligence tools for years, but we’re just starting to understand the legal risks they can create. In this session, we’ll review what AI is and how it’s used in the workplace, and discuss in detail recent guidance and decisions from the EEOC in this evolving area of law.

    Speaker: Gregory Goheen, McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, Kansas City, KS 

    11 a.m. – Noon | General Session 3

    School Districts and the State vs. Federal Tug-O-War: Where State and Federal Law Diverge on Education Law Issues
    School attorneys often are asked to advise on how federal and state law apply to a sticky issue – sex discrimination, drug testing, records privacy, for example. In this the speakers will review constitutional principles and practical considerations that will assist school attorneys’ analysis of these issues. We’ll also look ahead to anticipate topics on which federal and state law may conflict in the years to come. Don’t miss this substantive discussion!

    Speakers: Sloan Simmons and Carolyn Gemma, Lozano Smith, Sacramento, CA

    Concurrent 1 — Employment and Operations

    1:15 – 2:15 p.m. | Session 1
    What Happens When Transgender Students’ Rights and Teachers’ Religious Accommodation Claims Collide?
    In this session, experienced school law attorneys will discuss the lessons from recent caselaw on teacher constitutional claims when transgender students’ rights are implicated. Employee free speech and free exercise standards will be covered, as will discussion of how courts are applying those standards when teachers object to the use of students’ preferred names and pronouns.

    Speakers: Karla Schultz and Roxie De Santiago, Walsh Gallegos Kyle Robinson & Roalson

    2:25 – 3:25 p.m. | Session 2
    Schools on Blast: Governing, Leading and Navigating the Law in the Age of Social Media
    Are social media accounts the new public squares and sidewalks for purposes of free speech rights? Can a public official create a public forum simply by allowing comments on a Facebook page? Does the Garcetti framework still apply to public employee speech online? Join two seasoned attorneys for a discussion of the evolving law on social media speech and how to advise school district clients.

    Speakers: Michelle Cannon and Megan Macy, Lozano Smith, Sacramento, CA; Kerry Callahan, Superintendent, Western Placer USD, Lincoln, CA

    Concurrent 2 — Students and Litigation

    1:15 – 2:15 p.m. | Session 1
    New Frontiers in Section 1983 Litigation in Light of Cummings and Perez
    The Supreme Court decisions in Cummings and Perez have dramatically changed the landscape of civil rights litigation against schools including the availability of emotional distress damages and administrative exhaustion. This presentation examines the impact of the rulings and the trends and issues that have popped up in the aftermath. Participants will learn about the legal contours of the decisions, how the decisions may change evaluation of risk, as well as unresolved issues on the horizon.

    Speaker: Rebecca Sha and Stephanie Poucher, Phelps, New Orleans, LA

    2:25 – 3:25 p.m. | Session 2
    Tech Tools and School Safety: Evaluating Efficacy and Risk
    As shootings and other serious incidents make the importance of safety planning clear, school districts are considering a wide array of new tools. Facial recognition, weapons-detection, panic buttons, online monitoring, and the like may show promise as school safety tools in certain circumstances. But are the tools backed by data showing efficacy? Do they create safety and legal risk in some circumstances? A school safety expert who has testified in school safety litigation and a seasoned school law practitioner provide legal standards and practical considerations you can offer your clients considering the latest safety tools.

    Speakers: Kenneth Trump, Ohio, Stephanie Jones, Kriha Boucek, Illinois

    3:30 – 4:45 p.m. | General Session

    National School Law Update
    Ever-popular COSA speaker and past chair David Rubin teams up with the NSBA legal team for the annual update on key cases and trends in federal law affecting schools. In this can’t-miss session, you will learn how the Supreme Court is accepting and deciding cases in key areas like First Amendment and social media, employment claims, and IDEA, and what it means for your clients and your practice.

    Speakers: David Rubin, David B. Rubin, P.C. and Busch Law Group, Metuchen, NJ; Sonja Trainor, Managing Director, Legal Advocacy National School Boards Association

    5 – 6 p.m. | Seminar Reception

  • Saturday, April 6

    8:30 – 9:30 a.m. | General Session Keynote

    The First Amendment in the Roberts Court: How Recent Decisions Are Affecting Free Speech and Religious Exercise Rights in Public Schools
    Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, scholar, author, President of the Association of American Law Schools, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences shares his considerable insights on the current Supreme Court. He will explore how the Court is re-shaping our understanding of First Amendment Free Exercise and Speech rights, especially when those rights compete with other protected interests such as sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Speaker: Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor, University of California Berkely School of Law

    9:45 – 10:45 a.m. | General Session

    Race-Conscious Policies in K-12 Public Schools After SFFA v. Harvard and UNC
    On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court issued its rulings in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina and SFFA v. President & Fellows of Harvard College. The Supreme Court held that the colleges’ use of race as a decision factor in college admissions is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Going forward, schools that hope to achieve racial diversity will need to examine their policies utilized to achieve those goals. This program will address considerations for K-12 public schools in areas such as admissions, student programming, and contracting, what the Supreme Court Affirmative Action ruling means for immigrants and/or international students, and potential alternatives to achieve diversity in the absence of considering race.

    Speakers: Ashley HeilprinLaToya Merritt, and Brandon Davis, Phelps, New Orleans, LA

    11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. | General Session (Ethics)

    Legal Ethics: Artificial Intelligence and the Practice of Law
    The headlines say it all: “More Judges, Lawyers Confront the Pitfalls of Artificial Intelligence.” (Reuters, June 16, 2023). We’ll let a few lowlights of using AI in the practice of law highlight the ethical challenges to be considered for this new tool in our legal arsenal.

    Speakers: Jim Gessford, Perry Law Firm, Lincoln, Nebraska and David Kramer, Baird Holm, LLP, Omaha, NE


Seminar Information

  • Cancellations & Refunds

    Cancellations & Refunds for Registration will be accepted through Thursday, February 22, 2024 with a full refund less a $150 processing fee.

    Registration Cancellations received on or after Friday, February 23, 2024 will not be refunded.

    No-shows will not receive a refund. All cancellation requests must be submitted in writing via the COSA SLS Registration & Hotel Support Center or via Fax: (415) 216-2535. Refunds will be processed within one week of request. NSBA is not responsible for airfare, hotel, or other costs incurred by participants in the event of program or registration cancellation.


  • Hotel

    School Law Seminar Hotel: Omni Riverfront
    701 Convention Center Blvd
    New Orleans, LA 70130

    You must be registered for the seminar before you can reserve housing. All reservations should be made prior to March 22, 2024. Room availability and conference rates cannot be guaranteed after this date.
  • Travel & Getting Around

    Click here for information on taxicabs, ride sharing, and other transportation.
  • Safety Protocols & Requirements

    Proof of vaccination status or a negative test result is not required to attend NSBA events. Attendees who are not vaccinated are asked to take an at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen test before traveling to the event and should not attend if they test positive or have COVID-19 symptoms. NSBA does not require proof of these measures but encourages attendees to act responsibly and with consideration for the health and safety of others. Mask wearing is not required.