Legally-Defensible Investigations: A Step-by-Step Approach to Conducting Student and Employment Investigations Designed to Prevent Liability

Event ID:72022

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On-Demand (OD)     $299.00
Duration: Scheduled for 90 minutes including question and answer session.
Presenter(s): Erin D. Gilsbach, Esq., attorney at law, Steckel and Stopp
Price: $299.00 On-Demand. Each option may be viewed by an unlimited number of attendees in one room. On-Demand includes full audio presentation, question and answer session, and presentation slides.
CE Credits: This program has been approved for 1.5 general recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR, and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute. This program is valid for 1.5 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP.
Who Should Attend? Faculty, administrators, university counsel, human resources
Best For: K-12 and Higher Education


Whether dealing with employee termination cases, unlawful harassment complaints, bullying allegations, or a variety of other employee or student-related litigation, from a legal-defensibility perspective, one factor has established itself time and again as the central focal point of a case: the investigation procedure. A sloppy, cursory, or non-existent investigation will almost certainly result in an unfavorable legal result, which may include being forced to re-appoint an incompetent employee or one that engaged in significant misconduct or being blocked from expelling or otherwise disciplining a disruptive or potentially dangerous student. From the timeline to the scope of the investigation, a carefully-crafted process is key.

Please join Atty. Erin D. Gilsbach as she goes step-by-step through a model investigation process, explaining the legal benefits of specific practices, pointing out common errors and pitfalls, and identifying areas where the process could or should be tailored to suit the specific needs of the school. She explores the process from the initial complaint through the collection and review of evidence to the interviewing of witnesses. She will discuss varying models and practices and will point out areas where different models may have different results. Erin Gilsbach will guide attendees through the process of collecting evidence and selecting and interviewing witnesses. She will also provide detailed suggestions regarding how to properly and defensibly document an investigation and will give helpful tips regarding the maintenance of investigation records. She will discuss notification rights regarding the complainant and the subject of the investigation as well as employee due process rights that may be implicated in the procedure. Finally, she will provide model suggestions for establishing an appeals process within the school.


Just a sampling of what this webinar will cover:

  • A general overview of the importance of well-established, legally-defensible investigation practices
  • Timelines and the importance of creating and implementing uniform, detailed, written procedures
  • Interviewing a complainant and/or dealing with anonymous complaints
  • Gathering evidence and notifying and interviewing witnesses
  • Documenting the investigation process
  • Drafting and documenting findings
  • Notifying/informing the complainant and the subject of the investigation as to the investigation results
  • Establishing a practical, efficient, and legally-defensible appeals process within the school
  • Ensuring satisfaction of any/all due process rights



Your conference leader for “Legally-Defensible Investigations: A Step-by-Step Approach to Conducting Student and Employment Investigations Designed to Prevent Liability” is Erin Gilsbach. Ms. Gilsbach is a practicing school law attorney with the PA-based law firm of Steckel and Stopp. She is an experienced speaker at the state and national levels on matters regarding school law and a frequent author on education law topics. She currently serves as the president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) Solicitor’s Association and is a member of the board of directors of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys (COSA). Ms. Gilsbach provides a wide variety of training programs, as well as legal consulting services, to school districts, charter schools, non-public schools, and education-related organizations. She specializes in school policy and procedure legal defensibility audits as well as professional development in areas of special education, school technology, nursing and school health services, truancy prevention, child abuse prevention and mandated reporting, educator evaluation and discipline, and many other trending school law topics. Prior to attending law school, she taught high school English. Prior to entering private practice, she served for over two years at the PA Dept. of Education’s Office of Chief Counsel. Ms. Gilsbach was voted by her peers as a SuperLawyers “Rising Star Attorney” for 5 consecutive years and is an active member of and frequent presenter and author for NSBA, COSA, the national Education Law Association (ELA), PSBA, the LRP Institute, the National Business Institute (NBI), the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI), and a number of other legal and educational organizations. She is currently writing a book for LRP publications on school health services that is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2019. QUALITY COMMITMENT

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