People: Mary Kay Klimesh, Partner

Photo of Mary Kay Klimesh, Partner

Mary Kay Klimesh

Partner

Chicago
Direct: (312) 460-5985
Fax: (312) 460-7985
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Mary Kay Klimesh is a partner in Seyfarth Shaw’s Chicago office.  She provides advice and counsel to schools, colleges and universities in the varied aspects of school law which challenge institutions on a day-to-day basis.  She is an accomplished, experienced, and highly skilled attorney who represents educational institutions addressing matters related to board governance and policy development; faculty contract and employment decisions; employee discipline, evaluation and training; investigation of employee misconduct; employee and student civil rights and discrimination issues, including representation of educational entities in response to the investigation of complaints by the DOE Office for Civil Rights; student discipline and affairs; student special education procedural and substantive compliance under IDEA; Title IX compliance; ADA and Section 504 accommodation and accessibility; student data privacy and FERPA compliance; due process issues in the academic setting; third party contracts for goods and services; intergovernmental, affiliation and inter-institutional agreements; and obligations under applicable open meetings and freedom of information laws.

Ms. Klimesh is also an experienced and skilled advocate who has successfully represented schools in both state and federal courts and administrative agencies, including representation of school districts in special education due process administrative proceedings.  She carefully evaluates the risks of litigation to educational institutions through its various stages and has successfully led efforts to reach resolution of multiple matters through mediation and settlement.  In furtherance of her efforts to help schools manage risk, Ms. Klimesh has trained client teams and advised on proactive measures to further legally compliant implementation of institutional policy and procedure.

Ms. Klimesh is the past Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law (2012–2013) and a past Chair of the Education Law Section Council of the Illinois State Bar Association (2008–2009).  She presently serves on the Executive Committee for the Illinois Council of School Attorneys.

Mary Kay Klimesh is a partner in Seyfarth Shaw’s Chicago office.  She provides advice and counsel to schools, colleges and universities in the varied aspects of school law which challenge institutions on a day-to-day basis.  She is an accomplished, experienced, and highly skilled attorney who represents educational institutions addressing matters related to board governance and policy development; faculty contract and employment decisions; employee discipline, evaluation and training; investigation of employee misconduct; employee and student civil rights and discrimination issues, including representation of educational entities in response to the investigation of complaints by the DOE Office for Civil Rights; student discipline and affairs; student special education procedural and substantive compliance under IDEA; Title IX compliance; ADA and Section 504 accommodation and accessibility; student data privacy and FERPA compliance; due process issues in the academic setting; third party contracts for goods and services; intergovernmental, affiliation and inter-institutional agreements; and obligations under applicable open meetings and freedom of information laws.

Ms. Klimesh is also an experienced and skilled advocate who has successfully represented schools in both state and federal courts and administrative agencies, including representation of school districts in special education due process administrative proceedings.  She carefully evaluates the risks of litigation to educational institutions through its various stages and has successfully led efforts to reach resolution of multiple matters through mediation and settlement.  In furtherance of her efforts to help schools manage risk, Ms. Klimesh has trained client teams and advised on proactive measures to further legally compliant implementation of institutional policy and procedure.

Ms. Klimesh is the past Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law (2012–2013) and a past Chair of the Education Law Section Council of the Illinois State Bar Association (2008–2009).  She presently serves on the Executive Committee for the Illinois Council of School Attorneys.

Education

  • J.D., University of Iowa College of Law (1986)
    Recipient of Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyer’s Prize for Excellence in Advocacy
  • B.A., Trinity University (1977)

Admissions

  • Illinois
  • Colorado
  • Texas

Courts

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Seventh Circuits
  • U.S. District Court for the Central and Northern Districts of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • National Council of School Attorneys
  • Illinois Council of School Attorneys

Presentations

  • "Preparing For A New School Year: Managing Special Education Legal Compliance," Webinar, presented by Seyfarth Shaw LLP (August 9, 2018)
  • “Understanding Laws Applicable to Accommodating the Rights of Disabled Students, Employees, and Others,”  Council for Christian Colleges & Universities International Forum (February 2, 2017)
  • “Student Privacy, Technology, and the FERPA Framework,” 2017 School Law Practice Seminar,  moderated Q&A with Kathleen M. Styles, Chief Privacy Office at the U.S. Department of Education (October 21, 2017)
  • Co-Presenter, “Transition Planning:  A Legal Review and Practical Guidance,”  2017 Fall Conference of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education (September 28, 2017)
  • “Website Accessibility,” 2017 School Law Seminar, presented by the National Council of School Attorneys (March 24, 2017)
  • Co-Presenter, "Public Sector and the FLSA: New Compensation Regulations and Implications," Webinar, presented by Seyfarth Shaw LLP (September 28, 2016)
  • Co-Panelist, “Bullying in School:  Issues and Strategies,”  American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law Webinar (October 26, 2016)
  • Co-Panelist, “Legal Issues in Higher Education:  Annual Review of Court and Administrative Developments,” 43rd Annual Conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions (April 5, 2016)
  • Co-Presenter, “When Good Kids (or Bad Kids) Do Bad Things: Understanding the Student Discipline Process in Public Schools,” Chicago Bar Association Administrative Law Committee (May 15, 2015)
  • Co-Presenter, “Cyberbullying - Understanding Constitutional Obligations and Assessing Responsiveness and Disciplinary Measures” and “Bullying - What Is It and What Is the District’s Required Response,” Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and Northeastern Illinois University’s Cyberbullying/Bullying Network and Conference (April 20, 2015)
  • Co-Panelist, “Current Legal Issues in Special Education Panel,” Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education Sixteenth Annual Winter Conference (February 2015)
  • Co-Panelist, “Your Institution’s DNA:  Does My Institution Satisfy the Requirements of the Religious Exemptions? Or What Do You Mean I Am Not Exempt?,” Council for Christian Colleges & Universities Attorneys Conference (October 2014)
  • Key-Note Speaker, “Legal Aspects for Evaluation of Staff in a Student Growth World,” 12th Annual Leadership Institute of the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (July 28, 2013)
  • Co-Panelist, “Navigating a Charter School’s Legal Obligations When Disciplining Special Education Students,” Illinois Network of Charter Schools 2013 Statewide Charter School Conference (December 3, 2013)
  • Co-Presenter, “Job Descriptions -- So Many Reasons to Love Them,” Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards/Illinois Association of School Administrators/Illinois Association of School Business Officials (November 17, 2012)
  • “Are You Entitled to Immunity?” Annual Conference of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys (November 16, 2012)
  • Factoring Growth Models Into Administrator and Teacher Performance Evaluations,” Henderson/Mercer/Warren Counties Regional Office of Education (January 13, 2012), North Cook Regional Office of Education (January 30, 2012), Illinois Association of School Administrators (September 18, 2012)
  • Co-Presenter, “Overview of Special Education Laws and Obligations,” Illinois Network of Charter Schools (June 18, 2012)
  • “A Primer on Special Education Law,”  Education Law Section of the Illinois State Bar Association (May 14, 2012)
  • Co-Presenter, “How to Ensure Smooth Sailing For Students With Disabilities In Your Charter School,” Illinois Network of Charter Schools Conference (April 11, 2011)
  • “The Illinois Freedom of Information Act and the Illinois Open Meetings Act,” Illinois Network of Charter Schools (March 2011)
  • “Understanding the New ADA Title II Regulations,” Joint Conference-Illinois Association of School Boards/Illinois Association of School Administrators/Illinois Association of School Business Officials (November 19, 2010)
  • “Transition Planning --  A Legal Review,” Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education (September 2010)
  • Co-Presenter, “The Path to Litigation Success in Student Related matters:  How to Navigate the Trap of Discovery,”  National Council of School Attorneys (April 2010)
  • “Stepping into a New Era of Open Records in Illinois:  Put Your Best Foot Forward,” Illinois Public Employers Labor Relations Association (February 2010)
  • “Employment Law Update,” Illinois State Bar Association (February 2010)
  • “The Impact of Workplace Class Action Litigation Trends on the Higher Education Section,” Education Law Association (November 2008)
  • “Investigating and Addressing Complaints of Employee Misconduct,” Illinois Association of School Personnel Administrators (October 2008)
  • “Title II:  Americans With Disabilities Act,” Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (October 2007)
  • “Blogs, MySpace and Facebook:  A New ERA in Information Technology,” Illinois Association of School, College and University Staffing (January 2007)
  • “What If…?  The Basics of Emergency Contingency Planning,” Illinois Association of School Boards/Illinois Association of School Administrators/Illinois Association of School Business Officials Annual Conference (November 2005)
  • “The Limitation of Faculty Tenure, Including Discipline and Dismissal,” National Association of Schools of Theatre National Conference, Louisville, KY (April 2005)
  • “Public Education: Process & Practice for Providing Successful Counsel,” Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (October 2004)
  • “Special Education Law Update,” Illinois State Bar Association’s School Law Update (February 2004)
  • “Advising School Clients on New and Ongoing Compliance Issues,” Panelist for the Illinois Council of School Attorneys’ Update on School Law (November 2003)
  • “Prayer - Complying with the U.S. Department of Education’s Guidance,” Illinois Association of School Boards - Illinois Association of School Administrators - Illinois Association of School Business Officials’ 71st Joint Annual Conference (November 2003)

Publications