AASPA 2021
Pre-Conference Workshop Descriptions:

AM Pre-Conference Workshops: 9 am - 12 pm

1. Creating a Connection Through Employee Experience: Recruiting & Hiring

Emily Douglas-McNab, Kate Heynoski, Taylor Tamang, Experience Management Institute, 

Delaware, OH

The experience a candidate has during the candidate journey directly impacts your

recruiting and hiring success. The employee experience starts from the moment an

applicant considers your school district as an employer. Providing an exceptional

experience creates an emotional connection with candidates that increases the likelihood that they accept an employment offer and want to stay with your organization.

During this session, we will explore key components of the employee experience during the recruiting and hiring phase. We will provide real-world examples and tools, along with fun and engaging activities, to help you map the candidate journey and positively impact employee experience in your district.

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2. Diversity in All of Us  Dr. Ron Lewis & Dr. Rodney Lewis, Founders of The Lewis Influence,

Saint Charles, MO

Today has opened our eyes to many concerns regarding diversity in America. Many of us want to learn more and take action, but don't know where to start. Founders of The Lewis Influence, Dr. Ron and Dr. Rodney Lewis, invite you to this keynote address, which will open your mind and heart

to the spirit of diversity and help you to consider "diversity" as more than what we see, but instead, as who we are. Dr. Ron Lewis and Dr. Rodney Lewis, keynote presentation, Diversity in All of Us will encourage participants to learn from each other while developing a holistic perspective and respect for each other and the role diversity has on our future generation.


During this interactive presentation, participants will discuss, engage and collaborate in various small group activities to cultivate teamwork, understanding and authentic connection. The presentation will highlight the four cornerstones of diversity, the diversity connection, address implicit bias and practical steps to implement the spirit of diversity in our respective schools. At the duration of the keynote presentation, attendees will depart feeling inspired and equipped with tools to take action and create a diverse focus organization.

3. But Johnny, You Have to Go to School. Cause You’re the Principal!

Leslie R. Stellman, Attorney, Leslie R. Stellman ADR Services, LLC,  Lutherville, MD

After over a year of virtual learning, schools have finally reopened, but with a very different landscape.  

There are a variety of obstacles and legal pitfalls facing school districts attempting to return to some sort

of normality, ranging from reluctant teachers, hostile labor unions insisting that unreasonable conditions

be met, to ADA and  Section 504 accommodation demands, and even workers compensation and FMLA issues that school HR professionals have never faced before.  Student failure has increased alarmingly during the lockdowns, creating a crisis situation leading to pressure not just to reopen, but to offer full summer sessions and to provide massive compensatory educational programming which no school budget ever contemplated.


This session will address the many legal, practical, legislative, and collective bargaining strategies, challenges, and pitfalls in the post-COVID world we are facing.

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4. Hot Topics In School HR

Edmund O'Meally, Attorney, Pessin Katz Law, P.A., Towson, MD

In this presentation, we will discuss a variety of “hot topics” including the extension of FFCRA through at least September 30, 2021 and perhaps longer either through federal or state legislation, collective bargaining, or Board policy; the application of ADA/504 accommodations to school employees with medical conditions preventing their return to in-person learning and, conversely, the denial of accommodations to employees who are either not “disabled” or who cannot meet the essential functions of the job; vaccination mandates and exceptions; universal mask mandates and exceptions; collective bargaining over COVID-related working conditions; the impact of COVID upon the staffing needs of school systems that were already facing a pre-COVID hiring shortages; and the impact of federal court decisions regarding the rights of transgender students on the First Amendment rights of school employees who refuse to recognize student preferred names or pronouns.

5. FMLA, ADA and Workers’ Compensation:  Untangling the Spider Web, Legal Update and Best Practices in Leave Administration

Scott Macdonald, Esq., SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Managing Director, Macdonald & Associates, Middletown, CT

The complexity of the FMLA has been tripping up HR for over 25 years.  Adding to the difficulty is the interplay  of the FMLA with Americans with Disability Act and State Workers’ Compensation requirements. 


This session reviews the latest legal landscape and provides attendees with useful, practical tips and tools to navigate and manage FMLA and ADA accommodation leaves, including how to handle excessive absenteeism, how to train administrators and supervisors about the do’s and don’ts relating to FMLA leaves, how to avoid costly claims of FMLA violations and what to expect going forward from the U.S. Department of Labor.

PM Pre-Conference Workshops: 1 pm - 4 pm


6. Creating a Connection Through Employee Experience: Engagement & Retention

Brian White, Auburn-Washburn USD 437, Topeka, KS


Employee experience continues after a new hire’s first day on the job. The onboarding experience sets the stage for an employee’s successful start with your school district. The employee experience then continues all the way through their departure from the school district. Providing an exceptional experience for your employees directly impacts employee engagement and retention.

During this session we will explore key components of the employee experience including onboarding, employee engagement, performance management, training & development, and departure. We will provide real-world examples and tools, along with fun and engaging activities, to help you map the employee journey and positively impact employee experience in your district.

7. A Human Resource Response to Suicide

Dr. Marlene DeVilbiss, Raytown C-2 School District, Raytown, MO


Suicide is the second leading cause of death in persons 10 to 34 years old and the fourth leading cause of

death in those 35 to 54.  As educators, we are highly affected by these statistics.  This presentation will provide recent media coverage of this nation-wide problem, a history of suicide legislation, requirements in addressing  student suicide, and guidelines to help HR professionals deal with employees expressing suicidal tendencies. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences with this topic and participate in small group discussions.

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8.  Collective Bargaining

Edmund O'Meally, Attorney, Pessin Katz Law, P.A., Towson, MD

In this presentation, we will discuss mandatory, permissive, and illegal subjects of public sector collective bargaining related to COVID’s impact upon management rights and working conditions including school openings/closings and remote, hybrid, and in-person instruction; alterations and extensions to school system calendars; vaccination mandates and exceptions; universal mask mandates and exceptions; the ability to maintain classroom control of employee speech displayed on masks and in virtual backgrounds; the negotiation of extra-duty compensation for student alternative education opportunities and to address the need for compensatory education services outside the negotiated duty day or duty year; and the move in Maryland away from traditional pay scales to career pathways based upon Maryland’s “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” reforms.     

9.  Investigations, Discipline & Harassment Law

Robert T Schindler, Attorney, Miller Johnson, Detroit, MI


Discrimination and harassment complaints can create turmoil within your organization, but can truly wreak havoc (and lawsuits) if not investigated and dealt with properly.  During this session attorney Bob Schindler will discuss how to recognize complaints of harassment and discrimination, as well as how to effectively investigate the claims.  The focus will be on practical advice in dealing with difficult scenarios.  The presentation will go into depth on what discrimination and harassment are (and are not), what to do about reluctant complainants and defiant respondents, important steps in the investigative process, how to handle post-investigation discipline, what to do when one party wants more information than you are willing to give them, the importance of Board Policy, and more.  

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10.  The Solution is Right in Front of You: How school districts throughout the country are inspiring HS    students to become teachers.

Joshua P. Starr, Ed.D., Albert Chen, Lisa Rollins, PDK International, Arlington, VA

In this session, Dr. Joshua P. Starr, CEO of PDK International, and his Educators Rising colleagues, will engage you in planning your approach to Growing

Your Own educators. Educators Rising is the premier national High  School CTE program that inspires young people to become teachers in their own communities. Educators Rising is not only helping students get on the path to becoming highly accomplished teachers, it’s actively diversifying the profession, with 52% of its members being students of color. Participants will learn how to begin planning their own approach by using the PDK/Educators Rising “Growing the Profession” Playbook. They’ll leave the pre-conference knowing how to activate local partners such as employee associations, institutes of higher education, state agencies and legislators, as well as philanthropists. Participants will also learn about the Educators Rising curriculum, micro credentials, tutoring solutions, conferences and competitions, all of which can be used to start a GYO program.