The ability to receive an education or participate in the benefits and programs of our educational institutions are great privileges in our nation.
Indeed, an education not only prepares a person for his or her social interactions throughout life but it also provides the tools to pursue a meaningful calling. Fundamentally, a person has a right to receive an education and benefit from academic institutions and programs and free from unlawful influences, including discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. A person should also have the comfort of knowing his or her school is acting not only in the way the law requires but also in the way the school itself has promised it will act, including through its own policies, procedures, and contractual obligations.
Unfortunately, discrimination still exists today, whether overt or subtle, and it has the ability to affect a person’s education and life permanently. In many cases, discrimination and accompanying harassment, whether by faculty or other students, can have a devastating impact on a person. We make it our mission to ensure that schools, colleges, and universities are in compliance with their legal obligations and providing a legal and safe environment. When an educational institution fails to meet, is indifferent to, or simply refuses to meet its obligations, whether legal, contractual, or otherwise, then our objective is to step in and protect the rights of those students affected.
A school’s obligations to students and others arise under various federal laws, including but not limited to:
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the bases of race, color, and national origin
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based upon sex, including during admissions, grading, sexual assault and harassment investigations, misconduct hearings, and other disciplinary proceedings
- Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibit discrimination based upon disability at, respectively, public and private schools and institutions and also guarantee reasonable accommodations in education
- The Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which prohibits age discrimination, and
- The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees students and others due process of law.
Of course, this list of legal obligations on an educational institution is not exhaustive. Depending upon the circumstances, a person may also have other freedoms and protections, such as a freedom of speech under the First Amendment or to be free from bullying or other forms of conduct in violation of Virginia laws. Ensuring representation by an attorney who is well-versed in the highly-specialized and nuanced area of education law is a first and critical step to safeguarding rights in academia.
Simopoulos Law has more than fifteen years of state and federal experience and has handled complex and high-profile cases and matters involving discrimination, harassment, hazing, and bullying at educational institutions. It knows that such discrimination and harassment can occur at any time in an educational experience, from the date of a first application for admission all the way to graduation day itself. Having been in the trenches with schools, colleges, and institutions for many years, Simopoulos Law possesses the insight necessary to address educational issues that arise.
And, because Simopoulos Law is keenly-versed in litigation, the firm also has an experienced insight on what can go right and wrong at an academic situation even before litigation arises. Simopoulos Law regularly works with students in difficult situations in order to avoid protracted litigation, whenever possible, and achieve the best possible outcome as promptly as possible for its clients. In doing so, Simopoulos Law regularly provides advice, counseling, and representation in other academic and education contexts, including in:
- Tuition Disputes
- Grade Disputes and Appeals
- IEPs, Due Process Hearings, and Special Education
- Grievances and Hearings, and
Simopoulos Law focuses a significant part of its practice on education law in order to help students, who represent the future of this country. If you think you may be experiencing unlawful conduct by another at school, a college, or a university, and it is affecting your ability to receive your education, then please contact us right away for a consultation.