Education Law Association

The Education Law Association (ELA), founded in 1954 as the National Organization on Legal Problems of Education (NOLPE), provides an unbiased forum for the dissemination of information on current issues in education law. Originally located in Topeka, Kansas, NOLPE changed its name to the Education Law Association and moved to the campus of the University of Dayton, in Ohio, in 1997.

Membership, which is open to anyone interested in education law, currently numbers 1,200 members, with approximately 40 members from non-U.S. countries. According to the mission statement on its Web site, the ELA, as a nonprofit, nonadvocacy organization, “brings together educational and legal scholars and practitioners to inform and advance educational policy and practice through knowledge of the law.” Together with its professional community, ELA “anticipates trends in educational law and supports scholarly research through the highest value print and electronic publications, conferences, and professional forums.”

Encompassing attorneys, administrators, and educators, ELA’s inclusive membership policy allows for a broad range of perspective in all areas of education law. It provides an opportunity for people who have a stake in education law to connect with people in different careers who share the same interest.

In February 1954, several individuals, with Ed Bolmeier serving as leader, met to discuss school law at a roundtable discussion at the American Educational Research Association annual banquet. Their discussion report stated the following:

Intense interest appears to be offsetting former resistance to recognition of school law. This trend would be facilitated if channels of communication were strengthened between school law specialists and their colleagues. To this end, a unified or cooperative plan may be feasible; a national conference on school law might become a continuous project, eventually attaining organizational status.

It is no coincidence that 1954 saw the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka bringing education law issues to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. It was clear that education law was a field in and of itself.

In June 1954, Bolmeier convinced the Council of Professors of Educational Administration (CPEA) and Duke University to jointly sponsor a school law conference. Of those attending, several met to discuss their interest in forming a school law organization that stood alone, neither seeking nor accepting connections with any other organization, educational or legal. Each member of this original group, 57 people in total, contributed $1 each to cover organizational expenses. These individuals came from Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. NOLPE was born.

An official constitution was adopted in September 1954, and in January 1955, the following officers were installed: Madaline Kinter Remmlein, president; Lee O. Garber, secretary-treasurer; E. C. Bolmeier, executive committee member to represent schools of education and teacher training institutions; Robert R. Hamilton, executive committee member to represent law school faculties; Nolan D. Pulliam, executive committee member to represent professional staffs of elementary or secondary school systems; and Edgar Fuller, executive committee member to represent those otherwise engaged in educational activities of an official or advisory nature. The four executive committee members were to represent categories of the membership: faculty members of schools of education and teacher training institutions, law school faculty members, professional staffs of elementary and secondary school systems, and those otherwise engaged in educational activities of an official or advisory nature.

Today, ELA’s board of directors consists of an equal number of attorneys, school administrators, and professors. ELA is governed by nine directors, an additional executive committee consisting of four members (president, president-elect, vice president, and immediate past president), and an executive director. Elections are held at the business meeting during ELA’s annual conference. Each year, one-third of the board (three directors and one executive committee member) is elected to fill retiring positions. Regular directors serve 3-year terms, and executive committee members serve 4-year terms, having already served in a regular director capacity prior to being eligible for executive committee service. The executive director is appointed by the board.

ELA keeps its members abreast of the most current education law information via several avenues. ELA Notes is a quarterly publication that provides case notes and commentaries on legal issues and informs members about ELA’s activities, new publications, and upcoming seminars and conferences. School Law Reporter, published monthly, offers citations and case digests for new education-related decisions from state and federal courts and analyzes selected cases.

Each year, the ELA publishes three to four books, including The Yearbook of Education Law, which provides a summary of education-related state appellate and federal court decisions; it includes a detailed subject index, table of cases, and a listing of cases by jurisdiction.

ELA also hosts an annual conference, where experts in education law—whether they are attorneys, professors, or practitioners—discuss current education law issues. Group sessions for professionals in different roles are also included. The site moves each year so that all ELA members have an opportunity to attend.

ELA’s Web site (http://www.educationlaw.org) allows members to access education law information, School Law Reporter, ELA Notes, ELAbooks and other publications, constituency group listservs, and more. Links to other education law sites give ELA members the opportunity to receive information and services from other education law organizations as well.

Mandy Schrank

Legal Citations