Risk management and human resources practices often go hand-in-hand at our schools. Eighty-one percent of business officers are responsible for overseeing a comprehensive risk management program, according to a 2016 study by NAIS and United Educators (UE). A similar study conducted by NBOA and UE just a few years earlier found that employee discrimination and wrongful employment practices topped the list of the most frequent and costly educator legal liability claims. While business officers and human resources professionals are focused on these issues, they continue to be complex and often counterintuitive. A well-intended individual’s natural instincts may run counter to the best course of action from a legal and compliance perspective.
For these reasons, five years ago, NBOA invested in a full-time staff position to help schools mitigate these challenges and hired Grace H. Lee to serve as NBOA’s vice president, legal affairs. This summer, no one was more disappointed than me when Grace decided to depart NBOA and return to her legal roots as a partner with Venable, LLP, a longtime NBOA supporter. Many NBOA members personally shared with me how valuable her many contributions have been to NBOA member schools and human resources professionals, and how much she would be missed as a go-to resource.
For all these reasons, I’m so pleased to announce that Grace has been retained as NBOA legal counsel. In this role, she will once again serve as general legal support to NBOA staff, speak at NBOA signature events including the NBOA Annual Meeting and Business Officer Institute, and serve as faculty for NBOA HR online courses. I’m very pleased to be working with Grace in this unique role that only she can fill.
I find myself in front of audiences of independent school leaders who routinely hire, manage and may even have to separate an employee from staff, but surprisingly few have ever received the training to do so in a way that is in legal compliance and protects both the school and its employees.
One does not always need to consult a lawyer, however. Many compliance issues can be managed through proper training. I find myself in front of audiences of independent school leaders who routinely hire, manage and may even have to separate an employee from staff, but surprisingly few have ever received the training to do so in a way that is in legal compliance and protects both the school and its employees. One of Grace’s most significant contributions during her tenure was the development of three on-demand courses, developed in partnership with One Schoolhouse, that independent school staff can access on their own timetable and learn the necessary “rules of the road” when it comes navigating sometimes turbulent performance management. These courses include:
Interviewing and Hiring: This on-demand program provides crucial training for supervisors, administrators and any employee involved in the interviewing and hiring process at your school. Participants will learn to engage in meaningful interviews while avoiding legal claims and pitfalls in the hiring process.
Employee Leave and Accommodations: This on-demand program provides school supervisors with the knowledge needed to spot potential issues around leave and accommodation requests and work with human resources to manage employees effectively while mitigating legal risks.
Performance Management and Separations: This on-demand program provides supervisors with training on how to coach, evaluate and provide honest feedback to employees and considerations in a separation process.
I’d be remiss if I did not also mention our active search for a brand new NBOA staff position, director, human resources programs. While Grace will continue to provide NBOA members her employment law insight, this newly created, full-time staff role will serve as a liaison to the professional community of independent school human resources staff, develop and deliver programs to meet their needs, and serve as the primary point of contact with business partners, law firms and service providers that support best-in-class human resources practices at our schools.
It has been exciting to see the HR community thrive and grow within NBOA over the past several years. As you can see, we continue to be committed to this vibrant part of NBOA now and in the future, because it’s the right thing to do for our member schools and the faculty and staff that we serve every day.
Follow President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.
From Net Assets NOW, September 10, 2019. Read past issues of CEO Notebook.