Description of the Legal Counsel’s Office
Under the direction of the Commissioner of Education, the Legal Counsel’s Office provides professional legal counsel to the Virgin Islands Department of Education and administers legal services to all Departmental programs, activity centers, and both the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix School Districts. The Legal Counsel’s Office prepares and renders legal opinions for the Commissioner, Insular Superintendents, and Leadership Team on education law, Virgin Islands laws, the Constitution and federal laws affecting public elementary and secondary students and Department employees. The Legal Counsel’s Office advises the Commissioner, Insular Superintendents and Department staff on student and employee related matters and investigates written complaints filed by employees or students; functions as the Department’s liaison with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights; and reviews complaints filed by parents or advocacy groups on behalf of students or individuals with disabilities.
The Legal Counsel is engaged in formulating and writing the Department’s Territorial policies and procedures and creating rules and regulations for promulgation by the Department of Education; studies and interprets laws, court decisions, ordinances and other legal authorities. The Legal Counsel drafts contracts, agreements, legal memorandums, and other legal documents including Memorandums of Agreements and Understanding between agencies of the Government, stipulations, releases, affidavits, responses to enforcement agencies notices of violations, etc. and serves as liaison to local and Federal agencies on legal, contractual, and procedural matters involving the Department of Education.
The Legal Counsel drafts legislation for matters affecting the Department through the Commissioner, keeps abreast of legislation, provides legal assistance in reviewing proposed legislation, and represents the Department of Education as an advocate before the Legislature of the Virgin Islands in such matters as directed by the Commissioner. The Legal Counsel’s Office represents the Department of Education at workshops and seminars relating to student matters and participates in in-service education programs with Department staff and conducts staff training sessions and workshops on various issues. The Legal Counsel’s Office provides overall legal support for the Department as it continues its mission – the commitment to the superior preparation and performance of every student for continuing education, rewarding employment, and responsible citizenship.