Society & Culture

College of Education associate dean emeritus Michael La Morte publishes 10th edition of School Law

Athens, Ga. – A 10th edition of a textbook on school law, first written 30 years ago by University of Georgia educational administration professor and associate dean emeritus Michael La Morte, recently was published.

The latest edition of School Law: Cases and Concepts is updated with the most current court decisions and school law topics of interest, including restrictions on celebratory religious music, Bible distribution, wearing the confederate flag, gay student harassment, student internet message regulation, homeschooling, cyber bullying, parental notification when students refuse to pledge the flag, body piercings, discipline and due process for special education students, drug testing for teachers, lesbian teacher discrimination, maternity leave discrimination, home-based charter school, online learning, and most recent school finance decisions.

The book, lauded for its case-based approach, introduces K-12 educators to a body of school law that teaches them to conduct themselves in a legally defensible manner. A balance of case law, statutory law, constitutional provisions and analytical commentary, the book covers a wide range of topics, including sources of law under which educators operate, legal restraints to state action in K-12 education, legal rights and restrictions applicable to students and teachers, law pertaining to persons with disabilities, and liability for damages as a result of official action or inaction.In addition, broad legal concepts, such as due process, equal protection, freedom of expression, the wall separating church and state, and reasonable search are analyzed to assist professional educators in gaining a better understanding of the legal landscape in which they operate.

The textbook has long been used at top universities throughout the United States and in several foreign countries, and has been translated into Chinese.

La Morte dedicated the book to his grandfather, Heinrich Schroeder, whom he says as a young boy he saw speaking out against the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s. Although he was not a Jew, his grandfather was sent to a concentration camp for standing up for his political briefs.

“His example instilled a lifelong respect in me for the importance of living under the rule of law. Instilling students with this notion should be every educator’s goal; therefore, it is my hope that the information contained in this book will assist educators in this pursuit,” he said.

La Morte, who retired from UGA in 1992, taught graduate courses in School Law, Economics of Education and Politics of Education. He served as associate dean for services in the College of Education from 1982 to 1988 and associate to the dean for policy from 1988 to 1992.

La Morte worked closely with those who have been involved with legal attacks on school financing in Georgia and other states. He has been a consultant to the Education Committees of the Georgia General Assembly, the Governor’s Office and the Georgia State Department of Education. His recommendations pertaining to equalizing Georgia’s method of financing education were enacted into law. He conducted the Georgia Educational Policy Seminar for the state’s highest policy makers.

La Morte joined the UGA faculty in 1969. He received his Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of California at Berkeley.

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