Sara Hardner Leon

Sara H. Leon

Rated by Super Lawyers

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Phone: 512-637-4298
Location: Austin
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Sara Hardner Leon is a highly regarded education law attorney with 29 years of experience representing clients in all areas of public education law. Sara has extensive experience representing public entities, their administrators, and elected officials in administrative hearings as well as before state and federal courts.

Sara has successfully represented educators and public school districts, college districts, and other educational entities before administrative bodies including the Texas Workforce Commission, the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States Board of Patent and Trademark Office, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas State Board of Educator Certification, the University Interscholastic League, and the Texas Board of Nursing Examiners in investigatory and contested case proceedings.

Sara has successfully litigated landmark cases involving civil rights, education and public law issues before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Supreme Court of Texas, and the United States Supreme Court. She has won significant victories for her clients, defending against claims arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code, and Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code.

Sara has assisted many public school districts with Economic Development Act agreements that have enhanced the tax bases of her school clients and have brought tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue to the client school districts. Sara has served as counsel to dozens of public school districts in regards to election law, local elections, Voting Rights Act matters and redistricting.

PRACTICE AREAS

  • Education Law
  • Litigation (including state and federal court, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings)
  • Special Education and 504 Due Process Hearings and Appeals
  • Grievances involving civil rights and discrimination, due process issues, contacts and terminations
  • Economic Development Act, Ch. 313 negotiations
  • Texas Open Meetings/Public Information Acts
  • Public Finance
  • Elections and Redistricting

EDUCATION

J.D., University of Texas School of Law School, Austin, Texas 1990
A.B., Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 1985

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS & MEMBERSHIPS

School Law Section, State Bar of Texas
Employment Law Section, State Bar of Texas
Texas Council of School Attorneys
National Education Law Association
National Association of Bond Lawyers

SEMINARS AND PRESENTATIONS

  • “Ethical Issues in Litigating Special Education Matters”, LRP’s Special Education School Attorneys Conference, 2018
  • “Ethics for the Governmental Lawyer”, State Bar of Texas 29th Annual Advanced Government Law Boot Camp, 2017
  • “Balancing Constitutional Freedoms Inside the Schoolhouse Gate” American Board of Trial Advocates Teachers’ Law School, 2015
  • “Conducting Legally Defensible Employee Investigations: Common-Sense Guidance for The Campus Administrator”, Texas Association of Secondary School Principals- Legal Digest 26th Annual Conference, 2013
  • “Strategies for Addressing Fiscal Shortfalls”, 26th Annual School Law Conference, State Bar of Texas, School Law Section, 2011
  • “Confidentiality and Student Information”, National Educators Law Institute, 2008
  • The Establishment Clause- An Update from the Courts”, National Education Law Association Annual Conference, 2004
  • “Establishment Clause Update”, State Bar of Texas, Suing & Defending Governmental Entities, 2004
  • “What You Need to Know About the Establishment Clause: A Primer for Governmental Officials and their Counsel””, State Bar of Texas, Suing & Defending Governmental Entities, 2003
  • “What Every Principal MUST Know About Student Privacy Rights”, Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Summer Conference, 2002
  • “When Things Fall Apart–Governance Challenges for School Board Members”, Texas Association of School Boards/Texas Association of School Administrators Joint Annual Convention, 2002
  • “Employment Law Issues for Community College Business Officials”, Texas Association of Community College Business Officials Summer Conference, 2000

ARTICLES AND PUBLICATIONS

  • “Preserving the Opportunity for Education: Texas’ Alternative Education Programs for Disruptive Youth,”, Journal of Law & Education, Vol. 26, No. 4 (co-author), 1997
  • “Sovereign Immunity Update”, Public Sector Law Update, Council on Education in Management, 2003

REPRESENTATIVE CLIENTS

  • Texas Association of Community Schools
  • Texas Schools for Economic Development

REPORTED CASES

  • Schindley v. Northeast Texas Community College, et al., 13 S.W. 3d 62 (Tex. App.— Texarkana 2000, pet. denied).
  • Hejny v. Grand Saline Indep. Sch. Dist., 420 Fed. Appx. 473 (5th Cir. 2011)
  • Sons v. Sanger Independent School District; Ft. Worth Court of Appeals.
  • C.M. for C.C. v. Warren Indep. Sch. Dist, In the United States District Court for the Eastern District, Lufkin Division, 2017 WL 4479613.
  • In re Vidor Independent Sch. Dist., In the Court of Appeals of Texas, Beaumont 2010 WL 5232996.
  • Kirbyville CISD v. Reeves, In the Court of Appeals of Texas, Beaumont 2017 WL 397569.
  • Palmer v. Waxahachie Indep. Sch. Dist., et. al; 579 F.3d 502 (5th Cir. 2009, cert. denied)
  • Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Meno, 917 S.W.2d 717 (Tex. 1995)

HONORS

Recognized in 2019 as a Top-Rated Lawyer by Super Lawyers

CIVIC & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Director, Austin Parks Foundation, 2002-2006
Vice President, Norbert H. Hardner Foundation, 2000-present
Volunteer Legal Services Volunteer, 1993-present
Texas Interscholastic League Foundation, 2019-present