Skip to main content

Why Leaders in K-12 Schools Should Understand Education Law and Policy

Education has always been used as a political tool, but recently, it seems the laws and policies surrounding K-12 education — particularly in public schools — have changed more than ever. Many school districts have developed new policies to improve some of the archaic structures in place.

Responsibilities of educational leaders vary, but they must all have an understanding of laws that govern education as well as knowledge to address and impact current and future laws for the betterment of education. As the School Superintendents Association (AASA) Statement of Ethics for Educational Leaders notes, among other responsibilities, the educational leader must implement local, state and national laws and pursue “measures to correct those laws, policies, and regulations that are not consistent with sound educational goals or that are not in the best interest of children.”

Informed knowledge of education law is critical for the success of schools as it enables educational leaders to create policies, manage resources and develop programs that align with legal requirements. Indeed notes that roles such as teachers, professors, deans, curriculum leaders and principals all use education law to some extent, making educational law crucial to all school leaders.

Addressing Gaps in Communication

There is often a miscommunication among principals, supervisors and school boards regarding policymaking. Implementing new laws falls on the shoulders of educational leaders, who scrutinize the laws and enforce them as much as possible.

Programs such as Northwest Missouri State University’s Education Specialist (Ed.S.) – in Educational Leadership K-12 online program focus on understanding state and national policies, laws and standards. The School Law course, specifically, provides education professionals insights into student rights, attendance law and ethics considerations.

Relevant Educational Laws Administrators Must Know

There are several laws and policies that K-12 educational leaders should be aware of, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title IX. ESEA is a successor to the No Child Left Behind policy, which “shined a light on where students were making progress and where they needed additional support, regardless of race, income, zip code, disability, home language, or background.” It provides financial assistance to states and school districts to improve academic achievement among disadvantaged students.

IDEA is a law that “makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.” Title IX is one of the laws under the umbrella of Civil Rights, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational program or activity receiving federal funding.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted new trends and laws that impact education. Many other federal laws and regulations are accessible on the U.S. Department of Education website. Due to the 10th Amendment, however, most laws concerning education are decided at a state level. For example, each state has its own laws and guidelines for teacher certification, graduation requirements, school accountability, safety and resource allocation.

Weathering Other Changes

Of course, the reality is more challenging than the theory. Aside from base laws, education professionals have to deal with a myriad of changes every school year. As Derrick Meador observes in his ThoughtCo. article, “In recent years schools, administrators, and educators have been bombarded with well-intended legislation. […] With so many changes, it has been almost impossible to do any one thing well. Legislation at any level must be rolled out in a balanced approach. Trying to implement a plethora of legislative mandates makes it almost impossible to give any measure a chance to be successful.”

Despite these challenges, it’s still possible for educational leaders to focus on the children and create safe, equitable and engaging learning environments for all students. Graduates of Northwest’s online Ed.S. – Educational Leadership K-12 program can pursue roles like principal, public school administrator, assistant principal and education program coordinator and lead schools with foundational knowledge in educational policy and law.

Learn more about Northwest’s online Ed.S. – Educational Leadership K-12 program.

Request Information

Submit this form, and one of our enrollment specialists will contact you to answer any questions and guide you through the process, from start to finish.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 844-890-9304

Ready to get started?

Start your application today!

Or call 844-890-9304 844-890-9304

for help with any questions you may have.