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Districts Encouraged to Consult Counsel to Ensure Compliance with New Best Practice

November 4, 2014

As described in a previous Clark Hill E-Alert, the 2014-15 State School Aid Act, 2014 Public Act 196, continues "Best Practice" revenues for fiscal year 2015. Districts must now meet seven of nine criteria to qualify to receive a portion of this year's allotment of Best Practice funding. Three of the nine Best Practice criteria are new this year, one of which states:

(g) The district's collective bargaining agreements, including, but not limited to, appendices, addenda, letters of agreement, or any other documents reflecting agreements with collective bargaining representatives, do not contain any provisions pertaining to, relating to, or that are otherwise contrary to the prohibited subjects of bargaining enumerated in section 15(3) of 1947 PA 336, MCL 423.215.

Although this Best Practice does not explicitly state that a school district must delete contractual language pertaining to prohibited subjects, that action is implied to satisfy the criterion. As such, if a collective bargaining agreement or other contract entered into between a district and a union representing the district's employees contains prohibited subjects, the district must remove those provisions to satisfy the Best Practice contained in MCL 388.1622f(g). As with the Best Practice regarding merit pay, the Michigan Department of Education's guidance on the prohibited subjects Best Practice simply paraphrases Section 22(f)'s statutory language, then directs districts to consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with this requirement. 

In addition to qualifying for Best Practice funding, districts should ensure their contracts comply with the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) to avoid lawsuits that have recently been brought against districts by employees and third parties. Clark Hill attorneys are willing and able to review your union contracts for the presence of prohibited subjects. We can also advise you on how to work with your local union representatives to ensure any offending language is removed from your contracts. If you would like assistance in these matters, please contact Eric Griggs at (616) 608-1147 / or your Clark Hill Education Practice Group attorney.

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