Public, Municipal, & Education Law

Attorneys Ready to Assist in All Areas of New York State Public Law, Municipal Law, and Education Law

Coughlin & Gerhart is proud to offer municipal clients in New York State a full range of legal services. In providing "Public Law", "Education Law", and "Municipal Law" services, we provide the full spectrum of legal services to our clients, both as general legal counsel and as special counsel.

We act as general legal counsel to your municipal boards: School Boards of Education, Fire District Boards of Commissioners, Town & Village Boards, Zoning & Planning Boards, and County executives and legislatures.

We also provide legal services for all of your special municipal needs: bonding, contract negotiations, competitive bidding and the new piggybacking bid process, litigation, real estate and land use law, reserve accounts, and employment/labor law including civil service law assistance and discipline, among your other needs. With our firm’s team of attorneys with diverse and extensive experience, we are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of municipalities throughout our region.

Our firm has seven offices across New York’s Southern Tier and Northern Pennsylvania to make access to our experienced lawyers and legal team as convenient as possible, regardless of your location.

A Broad Range of Services, Tailored to Each Client’s
Individual Needs

We regularly represent municipal entities and related entities (including but not limited to municipal governments, towns, villages, counties, zoning boards of appeals, planning boards/commissions, schools, fire districts, fire departments, emergency/ambulance companies and other boards and entities) both as general counsel and on a special counsel basis to address complex matters, including:

  • Personnel, union, labor & employment matters and disputes, including negotiations
  • Disciplinary matters, including:
    • Employees, teachers, and students
  • Resolutions, charter amendments, and local legislation, including:
    • Noise and road preservation local laws
  • Capital Projects, including:
    • Financing, competitive bidding, prevailing wage, and related disputes/litigation
  • Land Use & Zoning applications and disputes, including:
    • Variances, special use permits, site plans, subdivisions, and comprehensive plans
  • SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) analysis and procedures
  • Open Meetings Law complaints and questions
  • FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) complaints and questions
  • Ethics opinions
  • Planning for and responding to effects of industry development on a municipality’s
    infrastructure and resources
  • Oil and Natural Gas-related matters, including:
    • Drilling permits, pipelines, and compressor stations
  • Special Education needs, manifestation hearings, and impartial hearing requests
  • Commissioner of Education matters
  • Civil rights claims defense
  • Municipal-related litigation, including:
    • Personal Injury
    • Workers’ Compensation
    • Labor matters
    • Article 78 proceedings
  • Tax Assessment defense:
    • SCAR (Small Claims Assessment Review)
    • Article 7 matters and litigation
  • Franchise Agreements

NYS Supreme Court Affirms Coughlin & Gerhart Client’s Open Meeting Practices, Budgeting, and Employment Decisions

The New York State Supreme Court, Broome County issued a sweeping decision early last week affirming that a school district’s Board of Education properly conducted meetings, appropriately addressed budgetary concerns, and made rational employment decisions. This decision affirms numerous municipal practices, including discussion during meetings and executive sessions of employee issues, fund management, and hiring policies. Coughlin & Gerhart’s team of attorneys were led by Robert H. McKertich and Nathan D. VanWhy, who are based out of the firm’s Binghamton, New York office.

In the suit, Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP represented a Board of Education against a parent organization alleging violations of the New York State Open Meetings Law and Real Property Tax Law, and breach of fiduciary duty. The New York State Supreme Court held (1) that it was appropriate for a Board of Education to enter into executive session to discuss employee issues and to utilize a multi-year plan of spending to reduce budget surpluses, (2) the Court is without jurisdiction to remove Board of Education members, (3) there was no evidence of waste or illegal conduct by the Board or administration, and (4) there was no basis to conclude that the Board acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

The Court’s decision affirms numerous municipal practices by boards across New York State, and should act as a guidepost for all municipalities when considering best management practices, and a reminder that executive sessions must specifically state the reason for which they are entered, and discussions during them must remain focused solely on those topics. A copy of the decision in the case, School Transparency Organization for Parents v. Harpursville Central School District, is available here for review.

Coughlin & Gerhart has numerous attorneys experienced in municipal law and litigation, and stand ready to assist all municipal clients.

Contact Coughlin & Gerhart

Our Public Law Practice Group is composed of 13 of our firm’s highly experienced attorneys. To arrange a consultation with one of our firm’s attorneys, contact our firm via email or call our Binghamton headquarters at 607-821-2202, toll free 800-646-3420.