Schools are Communities – Conflicts are Natural

Like all communities, public and private K-12 schools will naturally experience conflicts arising from competing interests, limited resources, and inherent imbalances in power, authority, and responsibility. Students, teachers, administrators, and parents are all essential to the community, each depending on and supporting themselves and each other in fundamental ways. 

This interdependence can lead to deeply fulfilling experiences and connections that enrich everyone’s lives and transform groups into communities. But it can also lead to feelings of vulnerability, frustration and even anger that pit individuals and groups against each other and erode the trust that holds the school community together. 

We help public and private K-12 school communities navigate conflicts, solve problems, rebuild relationships, and restore trust. Here are some examples of common conflicts we can help you resolve:

Student Matters

  • Suspension/Expulsion/Discipline
  • On- and Off-Campus Student Speech
  • Student Use/Misuse of Technology
  • Bullying/Cyberbullying/Harassment
  • Racial/Sexual/Religious Discrimination/ Hostile Environment under Title IX, Title VII, Section 1983
  • Tort Claims
  • Privacy Disputes
  • Records (FERPA)
  • Truancy
  • Catchment and Transportation

Personnel Matters

  • Hiring/Firing/Retention/Promotion and Discipline of Faculty and Staff
  • Tenure Disputes
  • Racial/Sexual/Age/Religious Discrimination/ Hostile Workplace under state and federal law
  • Accommodations for Disabilities (ADA)
  • Contract Negotiation and Collective Bargaining

Institutional Decision-Making and Policy Matters

  • Disputes Between School Board/Directors and Parents/Taxpayers Concerning Board Policies and Budget
  • Contract Disputes with Vendors and Contractors
  • Intragovernmental disputes (e.g., Zoning)
  • Collective Bargaining Negotiations
  • Development of District and School Policies
  • CoVID-19 Safety Plans and School Closure Decisions

It Takes One to Know One

My mediation and dispute resolution practice focuses exclusively on conflicts arising in public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. I chose this focus because I am a product of public and private school education, and because I have dedicated my entire professional career to education and education law. 

My empathy and efficacy in educational conflict resolution comes from my professional and personal experience and expertise as:

A Public and Private School Student

A Private School Apprentice Teacher

A Public Elementary School Classroom Teacher and Union Representative

An Attorney for Students and Parents

An Attorney for Colleges and Universities

A Public and Private School Parent

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Many people today agree that we need to reduce violence in our society. If we are truly serious about this, we must deal with the roots of violence, particularly those that exist within each of us. We need to embrace ‘inner disarmament,’ reducing our own emotions of suspicion, hatred and hostility toward our brothers and sisters.”

Dalai Lama XIV

The most tragic cause of social disharmony is when the speed with which people find mistakes of others outweighs their simple belief that they too are infallible!

Israelmore Ayivor

Each conflict is self conflict.

Raphael Zernoff

The worst battle you’ll have to fight is between what you know and how you feel.

Turcois Ominek

During the flames of controversy, opinions, mass disputes, conflict, and world news, sometimes the most precious, refreshing, peaceful words to hear amidst all the chaos are simply and humbly ‘I don’t know.

Criss Jami

Asking why you should retaliate often solves the problem better than retaliation itself.

Innocent Mwatsikesimbe

We usually learn from debates that we seldom learn from debates.

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

The world is an arena where things represent things. It is a stage where the same thing is seen from different lenses as a different thing.

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

Before reacting to any conflicting situation in life. Ask yourself a simple question: ‘You want to be happy or you want to be right?

Aditya Ajmera

Conflict occurs everywhere except in the cemetery. Everyone experiences conflict except the dead. Thankful for being alive…

Assegid Habtewold

History is littered with the wars everybody knew could never happen.

Enoch Powell

We seldom learn much from someone with whom we agree.

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

We fight because we fail to understand why really we fight.

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

Conflict is not necessarily bad. If you can avoid taking conflict personally, it is actually a way to get better decisions and better results.

Sonali Sinha

You can teach people everything except how to get along.

Marty Rubin

Real conflicts between two people, those which do not serve to cover up or to project, but which are experienced on the deep level of inner reality to which they belong, are not destructive. They lead to clarification, they produce a catharsis from which both persons emerge with more knowledge and more strength.

Erich Fromm

Half of the conflicts in your head get resolved when you seek to understand instead of seeking to be understood.

Nitya Prakash

They began to fight, ’cause they didn’t know each other’s stories.

Jaco Strydom

You can observe a lot by just watching.

Yogi Berra

The source of all the conflicts in the world is in trying to convince everyone that you’re always correct.

Mwanandeke Kindembo

People may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

Discord is harder to end then to begin.

Edmund Spenser

Ten per cent of conflict is due to difference of opinion. Ninety per cent is due to wrong tone of voice.

Ritu Ghatourey

It is a fact that the bitterest contradictions and the deadliest conflicts of the world are carried on in every individual breast capable of feeling and passion.

Joseph Conrad

In some ways, we will always be different. In other ways, we will always be the same. There is always room to disagree and blame, just as there is always room to take a new perspective and empathize. Understanding is a choice

Vironika Tugaleva

Perhaps one day, all these conflicts will end, and it won’t be because of great statesmen or churches or organizations like this one. It’ll be because people have changed.

Kazuo Ishiguro

What would you have? Your gentleness shall force More than your force move us to gentleness.

William Shakespeare

Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.

Horace Mann