School safety, mental health discussed at McCarthy Institute

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Martha McCarthy delivers her keynote address, “Student Expression in the Digital Age,” during this year’s McCarthy Institute

School leaders, attorneys and researchers shared their expertise on relevant topics about education law at this year’s Martha McCarthy Education Law and Policy Institute

Now in its sixth year, the institute included breakout sessions and discussions from a range of issues, including child abuse and neglect, religion in schools, Title IX and a keynote by McCarthy on student expression in the digital age.

Janet Decker, Associate Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies, called the event a huge success.

“All day attendees raved about how practical and useful the information was,” she said. “For several years, we have met to examine the many pressing issues in education law and policy and to encourage increased legal literacy for school leaders, teachers, researchers, attorneys and others.”

Martha McCarthy, a faculty member at the School of Education from 1975 to 2011, is a nationally recognized as an expert in education law. Her research has covered a variety of education leadership and policy matters, including student engagement, equity in schools, teacher preparation, and religion in schools. According to Decker, shecreated an undergraduate school law course for preservice teachers at IU, a course that remains one of the only required school law courses in the country for undergraduates studying to become teachers.

What many people overlook is that teachers are on the front lines and must immediately respond to legal dilemmas.

Associate Professor Janet Decker
From left, Dr. Janet Decker, Dr. Suzanne Eckes, and Dr. Jennifer Rippner

“Not only do our students tell us how much they enjoy this course, but in the years after they graduate, they confirm how vital it was that they knew how to spot legal issues and to understand the legal rights of students and school employees. What many people overlook is that teachers are on the front lines and must immediately respond to legal dilemmas,” Decker said.

The Education Law program at the School of Education has since expanded to include several courses for undergraduate, M.S., Ed.D. and Ph.D. students, and also includes a fully online Education Law Certificate.

A complete list of speakers and topics from this year’s McCarthy Institute is available online.