Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.
School Law
School Law

Skilled Attorneys Assist School Districts in Chicago and the Surrounding Areas

Our firm has represented educational institutions and districts in Illinois since 1935

Our attorneys possess the requisite experience to serve as general counsel to numerous school districts in Illinois and provide assistance to additional districts that offer a wide variety of specialized services. The clients of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. range from large suburban unit districts and high school districts to elementary districts. We are a full-service local government firm and do not “farm out” litigation, nor do we seek outside counsel for specialized services and projects.

A wide range of experience in matters associated with education law

Because our attorneys possess 15 to 25 years of experience on average, the firm is able to provide our school district clients with a host of services involving education law:

  • School finance. We can advise on temporary and long-term financing, contract bidding, service contracts, vendor contracts, bid preparation and more.
  • Special education. Our attorneys have represented schools at every level of the special education system, including IEP meetings, mediations, due process hearings, and federal and state litigation involving special education disputes.
  • Student issues. We have handled hundreds of expulsion matters involving a wide range of issues of student misconduct, including cheating, theft, assaults, gangs, drug possession and abuse.
  • Freedom of Information Act and Open Meeting Act. Our attorneys help clients comply with laws regarding transparency and dissemination of public information.
  • Board practice and procedures. We advise administrators and boards on general school law matters.
  • Labor and employment law. If you need assistance complying with legal requirements related to labor and employment law, such as personnel policies and handbooks, the hiring, retention, discipline and removal of employees, or issues or claims related to compliance with state and federal laws, we can help.
  • Election law. Our attorneys assist municipalities with meeting Illinois Election Code and related statutory requirements.
  • Litigation. Our attorneys have experience in all areas of federal and state litigation involving municipalities, school districts and other units of local government.
  • Property issues. We counsel school districts regarding the purchase, sale and/or lease of school sites, with and without buildings, granting and obtaining easements for various purposes, and preparing purchase and sale agreements. Our property issues attorneys advise school districts as to the benefits and costs of proposed developments or annexations.
  • Property tax litigation. We advise districts about tax exemptions involving school property and the handling of tax objections against school property.
  • Construction law. Our attorneys have successfully handled construction litigation and have assisted clients by ensuring timely completion of projects within the agreed upon budget.

Partners and Associates with Expertise in School Law

For questions regarding Environmental Law, please contact Erin K. Walsh, John Allen Wall, George Wagner, Scott F. Uhler, Kathleen Terese, Gregory T. Smith, Donald E. Renner, Scott E. Nemanich, Mallory Milluzzi, Thomas M. Melody, Michael A. Marrs, Jacob Karaca, Howard C. Jablecki, Carmen P. Forte Jr., Gerard E. Dempsey, James P. Bartley or Terrence M. Barnicle



Call a Chicago education law firm with substantial experience

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has represented municipal clients in Chicago since 1935. We are a full-service firm, handling litigation and transactional matters. Call our attorneys at our downtown office at 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule a consultation.

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School Finance

Chicago, Illinois Education Law Attorneys Assisting with School Finance Issues"

Our firm provides comprehensive financial and business legal advice

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., our attorneys provide valuable advice to school districts about financial and business affairs. We possess extensive experience in assisting educational institutions with advantageous solutions to financial issues and creating beneficial contracts.

Attorneys advise clients during contract formation

From negotiations to execution to enforcement, our educational law attorneys provide assistance to districts at every level of creating a contract. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd.’s attorneys regularly prepare and review bid specifications and notices for clients. In addition, our attorneys provide an analysis of the lowest bidder and highlight any red flags, such as patent errors or irregularities.

Improving vendor relations and creating procedures to comply with statutes

As to vendors, our attorneys assist in the formation of contracts with bus company vendors and special service contracts. We recognize the instances in which a district has the ability to delegate certain duties and the mandatory statutory constraints that must be included or considered when forming a contract. Examples of such statutory contract provisions and processes include:

  • Equal employment opportunities
  • Minimum and prevailing wage requirements
  • Preparation of the required annual notice and resolution

Contact Chicago education attorneys who assist in contract formation

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. represents an extensive number of school districts in Chicago and the surrounding areas. We help our clients create contracts with advantageous provisions congruent with statutory requirements to fulfill their objectives. Contact our attorneys at our downtown office at 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule a consultation.

Special Education

Chicago, IL Special Education Law Firm Protecting Educational Institutions’ Best Interests

When it matters most, our attorneys provide outstanding legal representation

Since 1935, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has represented school districts throughout the Chicago area and all of Illinois. Our clients range from large suburban unit districts and high school districts to elementary districts. We serve as general counsel to numerous school districts in Illinois, but also serve and support many additional school districts with a wide variety of specialized services or projects. We have extensive experience handling special education matters and are fully equipped to assist you.

Guidance for schools seeking to offer comprehensive special education services

We can help educational institutions with all special education law issues, including:

  • Individualized education plan (IEP) matters. A child who attends public school and receives special education services must have an IEP. The law requires an IEP to include certain information about the child and the educational program designed to meet the child’s special needs. We have extensive experience handling IEP issues.
  • Due process proceedings. Due process hearings are used to resolve disagreements between parents and schools regarding children with special needs. Our trial attorneys have handled numerous due process hearings. It is important for schools to have proper legal representation at these proceedings.
  • Federal court proceedings. Parents may seek action in federal court under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal statutes. We are proficient in arguing these types of claims on behalf of schools.
  • Disability and discrimination issues. Federal law prohibits discrimination against a student based solely on that person's disability. We are well versed in handling claims of discrimination.
  • Mediation and settlements. We work with parents and their advocates in a professional manner, understanding the continuing working relationship the school district administrators and staff must have with these families. Our approach to dispute resolution includes consideration of the most efficient and effective use of school resources for the student as opposed to fees devoted to expensive and time-consuming hearings.

It is vital that educational institutions protect their rights and best interests in all of the above matters and proceedings. Our firm can be your advocate. In addition to resolving special education law matters, we can address disputes related to student issues.

Schedule a consultation with a special education lawyer focused on helping schools

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has an office in downtown Chicago near Lyric Opera and another location in Orland Park to serve our clients in the suburbs. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule a consultation.

Student Issues

A Chicago, Illinois Law Firm That Provides Attorneys for School Issues

Experienced and skilled education law attorneys provide seasoned representation in school discipline matters

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins Ltd. has provided representation to school districts in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois since 1935. We serve school districts from Boone County to LaSalle County and numerous school districts in Will, Kane, DuPage and Cook counties. We offer seasoned representation by skilled attorneys with a broad background in dealing with student issues and school discipline matters.

Handling school discipline and other student issues

Our attorneys handle student discipline, special education and other student matters, including expulsions, suspensions, reviews and related litigation. We assist school districts dealing with discipline issues and other matters, including:

  • Assaults and physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse and sexual harassment
  • Stealing
  • Accusations of cheating
  • Use of lie detector tests
  • Student residency issues
  • Academic issues related to student grades
  • Accusatory statement verifications
  • Verification of drug and alcohol use
  • Possession and distribution of drugs and alcohol
  • Customized exams for students

Student suspension and expulsion is a common issue facing Illinois school boards. The Illinois Criminal Justice Authority states that suspension rates in Illinois public schools increased by 56 percent between 1997 and 2007. Expulsion rates also increased, more than doubling during the same time period. By 2007, both suspension and expulsion rates reached a 16-year high.

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins Ltd., our experienced school district attorneys have handled hundreds of expulsion and suspension matters, including a wide range of student misconduct issues:

  • Cheating
  • Theft
  • Assaults
  • Gang-related matters
  • Drug possession and abuse

Our attorneys provide skilled legal services for student issues by serving as legal counsel to Illinois boards of education in these matters. Our experienced attorneys have also served as hearing officers in various student discipline cases and as representatives of school administrations in the prosecution of student discipline matters.

Consult with experienced Chicago education lawyers for guidance in dealing with student issues

With our broad background in assisting with student discipline matters and other student issues, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins Ltd. offers you guidance based on the three “E’s” on which our firm was founded: experience, expertise and efficiency. Our offices are conveniently located in downtown Chicago, near Lyric Opera and easily accessible by public transportation, and Orland Park. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or our Orland Park office at 312.984.6400, or use our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation.

Freedom of Information Open Meeting Act

Chicago, Illinois Law Firm Assists with Freedom of Information Act Matters

Our firm protects municipalities and educational institutions

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., we have extensive experience assisting governing bodies and educational institutions with matters related to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA). There are certain matters that are sensitive and should be duly protected. The solicitation of information under these acts should be properly supervised, and any discrepancies that arise must be accurately handled. We provide the advice and guidance you need to ensure that you are in compliance with the law.

A straightforward translation of the Freedom of Information Act

In addition to the federal FOIA, Illinois has enacted the Illinois FOIA. The goal of both FOIA statutes is to allow citizens to obtain information about their government. Anyone has the right to make a FOIA request. In Illinois, a public body has five business days after receiving the FOIA request to respond to it, but that timeframe can be extended under certain circumstances. Additionally, certain information is exempt from FOIA requests, including:

  • Matters that must be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy
  • Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency
  • Private information, such as Social Security numbers, addresses, personal financial information and other unique identifiers
  • Law enforcement records that would disclose a confidential source or otherwise impair an ongoing investigation
  • Information that if disclosed could endanger or impair an individual’s life
  • Business trade secrets
  • Requests that are “unduly burdensome”

There are other exclusions that may apply as well. We can help you interpret the exclusions and how they apply to your municipality or educational institution and the request being made.

Our firm translates and applies the Open Meetings Act

The Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) was created to prohibit secret discussions and action on matters significantly affecting the public that should be discussed in a public forum. Providing advance notice to citizens of actions to be taken is part of the policy of the OMA. All meetings are subject to the OMA, unless specifically exempted. The OMA specifically applies to municipalities and school districts. There are numerous exemptions, which are strictly construed, that our attorneys can help you understand and determine if they apply to your meeting. We provide important advice regarding your municipality or educational institution’s compliance with the act.

Obtain the guidance you need in FOIA and OMA matters

When a municipality or educational institution has a question regarding FOIA or OMA issues, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has the answers. Contact us at our Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or at the Orland Park office at 312.984.6400. We can also be reached via our website.

Board Practices

Providing Guidance in Board Practices and Procedures in Chicago, Illinois

Our attorneys help clients comply with the law

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has provided legal services to municipalities and educational institutions since 1935. We have extensive experience assisting a wide variety of boards with their practices and procedures. We can ensure your compliance with the law and establish effective and efficient tools to make your board more productive.

Creating proper board practices and procedures

While each type of board is unique, its effectiveness is usually directly related to the use of certain prescribed board practices and procedures. In an effort to promote efficiency and compliance with the law, we provide the following services:

  • Board manuals
  • Selection criteria for board members
  • Evolving board practices and procedures
  • Agendas for board meetings
  • Written policies regarding attendance
  • Board self-evaluations

Adhering to the Open Meetings Act

Municipal law and the Open Meetings Act require the majority of government meetings to be open to the public. There are exceptions to this general rule, but these exemptions are strictly construed. Meetings that are allowed to be closed to the public include:

  • The employment, compensation, discipline or dismissal of specific employees of the municipal body or educational institution
  • The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body
  • Student disciplinary cases
  • Other matters related to individual students, such as placement in special education programs

There are numerous other exemptions that may apply to your meetings. It is important to confer with attorneys to determine how the OMA applies to you and your meetings.

Defining the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides citizens the right to know the actions of the governing bodies within their district. A FOIA request allows a person or entity to obtain certain documents and other pieces of information regarding the actions of the government. Complying with FOIA requests can be overwhelming. A municipality or school has the duty to provide permissible information, but also must claim exemptions for protected information. We can assist with all matters related to FOIA and ensure that you are complying with your legal obligations in responding to FOIA requests.

Schedule an initial consultation to discuss board practices and procedures

Our attorneys continue to execute our firm’s tradition of experience, expertise and efficiency. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has an office location in downtown Chicago near Lyric Opera and another location in Orland Park to serve our clients in the suburbs. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule a consultation.

Labor & Employment Law

Chicago, IL Employment Law Attorneys Serving the Public Sector

Providing quality employment legal advice and litigation services

Employment law violations and lawsuits can lead to costly liability for cities, town and local agencies. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. handles every aspect of employment law for our public sector clients throughout the Chicago area. From providing comprehensive legal advice regarding compliance with state and federal employment laws to defending individual and class action lawsuits, we deliver outstanding results.

Delivering knowledgeable employment law advice

The area of employment law is continually changing. Our lawyers actively monitor judicial decisions and changes in federal, state and municipal laws so that our clients’ employment practices and policies can be modified as needed. We counsel our clients regarding how to minimize risk when dealing with sensitive employment issues such as:

  • Contract negotiation
  • Employee discipline
  • Reduction in force
  • Anti-harassment policies and training

As part of our work, we also review and update personnel policy manuals for our clients to ensure compliance with federal and state laws. By establishing and enforcing sound policies and procedures, many employers can avoid lawsuits down the road.

Providing seasoned employment law litigation services

The number of employment-related lawsuits filed by both employers and employees has grown dramatically in recent years. In addition to private suits, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission set a record for monetary recovery from employers through its administrative process in 2012. The most frequently filed charges were retaliation (37,836), race discrimination (33,512) and gender discrimination (30,356).

Our Chicago employment attorneys are dedicated to protecting our clients from these costly and disruptive suits. We routinely defend both private and public sector clients against individual and class actions. These may be brought in federal and state courts and involve many different aspects of employment law. Matters we handle include:

  • Race, gender, religion or national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
  • Age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Accommodation of disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Faculty and tenure disputes, disciplinary actions and other issues involving education law 
  • Unpaid wages or overtime under the Fair Labor Standard Act
  • Employee leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Violations of employment contracts, such as covenants not to compete and nondisclosure agreements
  • Termination disputes involving wrongful discharge or dismissal of employees covered by policy manuals

We also handle labor issues, including collective bargaining negotiations, grievance arbitrations and mediation, and unfair labor practice matters arising under the National Labor Relations Act and state labor relations statutes.

Contact a proven Chicago law firm for your employment law needs

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has served the Chicago area since 1935. Our experienced team of attorneys provides legal representation in all areas of employment law. Contact our firm’s office in downtown Chicago at 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 312.984.6400 or online to arrange an initial consultation.

Litigation

Chicago, IL Litigation Lawyers Fighting for Your Best Interests

Providing strong advocacy in the courtroom

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has experience in all areas of federal and state litigation involving municipalities, school districts, other units of local government, corporations and individuals from the simplest cases to the most complex. Our litigators also have experience in administrative proceedings and alternative dispute forums, including mediation and arbitration. We have applied this experience and unique skill to the benefit of private sector clients, insurance companies, self-insured groups and pools.

Offering comprehensive litigation services

We have been successful advocates for corporate and individual clients in a broad range of areas such as:

  • Personal injury, wrongful death and torts
  • Labor and employment law matters
  • Student discipline and residency hearings
  • Special education issues
  • Constitutional and civil rights
  • Administrative review actions
  • Zoning, real estate, development and land use
  • Condemnation and eminent domain disputes
  • Construction law disputes
  • Demolition of unsafe structures and lien foreclosures
  • Business disputes
  • Injunctions and other equitable remedies
  • Environmental issues
  • Insurance disputes
  • Contract disputes and fraud
  • Finance
  • Engineering and architectural matters
  • Tax exemption issues
  • Probate, trusts and estate matters
  • Election, voting and campaign disputes

We handle cases at the post-trial and appellate stages in all levels of the state and federal court systems. We not only handle post-trial proceedings in cases already assigned to us, but we also help to formulate and pursue post-trial strategies in cases tried by other firms. Indeed, our appellate attorneys have served as judicial clerks to Illinois Supreme Court and appellate court justices and have argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Illinois Supreme Court and all five districts of the Illinois Appellate Court.

Proficient in handling administrative litigation

Our attorneys also serve as local prosecutors in the circuit court and administrative adjudication systems for several municipalities. We also represent intergovernmental risk management programs as special litigation counsel for the:

  • Illinois Risk Management Agency (IRMA)
  • Suburban Library System
  • Park District Risk Management Agency
  • Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Pool

We have obtained several landmark rulings to the benefit of our clients, and we have also obtained countless final judgment rulings in our clients’ favor via dispositive motion practice and trial. In all of our litigation matters, including education law issues, we strive to achieve results in the most cost-efficient manner possible while maintaining a standard of excellence.

Contact skilled Illinois litigators for an initial consultation

For your convenience, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has two locations. We have an office in downtown Chicago near Lyric Opera, which is accessible by mass transit, and another location in Orland Park to serve our clients in the suburbs. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule a consultation.

Property Issues

Helping Chicago-Area Municipalities Make Sensible Real Property Policy

Orland Park attorneys active in school financing since 1935

Responsible development is a key to any city’s growth, as the tax base must expand to keep pace with the population base. As downtown areas begin to attract new residents and suburban areas continue to grow, an adequate infrastructure is more important than ever. Schools and related facilities cannot be built without precious real estate. How can your city secure the rights to the real property it needs to serve its citizens?

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., our attorneys are experienced in all types of property issues affecting schools. We can provide both innovative and traditional solutions to ensure that your community is able to achieve and maintain sustainable growth.

Our attorneys provide assistance via a Naperville ordinance

A Naperville ordinance may be the ideal vehicle for your municipality to secure the land it needs at a reasonable cost. Some areas grow so fast that by the time parks, school and other public places are needed the land has been subdivided and is too expensive to acquire. Other cities experience uneven growth; one area of the city expands while other areas contract.

A Naperville ordinance can cure both these maladies. In 1972, Naperville, Illinois passed a city ordinance that all builders must donate either land or cash to the city to be used for schools and parks, either 5.5 acres or $15,000 per acre. The attorneys at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. possess specific knowledge in this area and can help you draft an ordinance with an excellent chance of withstanding any legal challenge.

Guidance in purchase and lease issues

In some cases, it can be more cost-effective to acquire and renovate existing structures or existing vacant lots and convert these spaces to parks or schools or any other needed facility. Such activity must conform to special laws in Illinois, including the Public Construction Contract Act. All activities on the site, from accepting bids to negotiating the contract terms to construction and renovation to the final cleanup, must be in strict compliance with these laws.

Adept in handling financing issues

The attorneys at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. can assist with many forms of municipal bond campaigns to raise capital for needed improvements:

  • Types of bonds. Most municipal construction bonds are general obligation bonds, meaning that repayment is guaranteed by the issuing taxing authority. Revenue bonds are linked to a revenue stream, such as user fees or tolls.
  • Bond issuance. The majority of bonds are issued after a referendum giving the taxpayers the chance to vote on whether to approve the measure. Non-referendum bonds are directly tied to existing tax revenue.

Other construction and finance issues may be involved in a bond campaign as well.

Call attorneys providing experience, expertise and efficiency to clients in Chicago and all of Illinois

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., we use our experience to craft cost-effective solutions to your financing and election needs. Contact Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule your confidential consultation at either our downtown or suburban office.