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Earning an “A”. Representing School and Community College Districts.

For Four Decades, Parker & Covert LLP’s Specialized Service, Immediate Access to Experienced Attorneys, and Premium Work Product Has Earned Consistently High Marks.

Parker & Covert’s status as one of California’s premier Education Law Firms is well documented, from its history as one of the first law firms to specialize in education law, to its 39-year history as an industry leader. Indeed, the firm’s longevity and outstanding reputation have stood the test of time, as the result of the firm’s focus on their specialized practice, immediate accessibility to highly experienced attorneys, and the premium work products delivered to school and college clients.
“Our niche is in representing school and community college districts throughout California,” says Managing Partner Douglas Yeoman, who comes from a family of teachers and education administrators, and joined the firm in 1988. “Our practice areas are very specialized in that we exclusively represent school and community college districts and the individuals that manage them. Our primary district contacts and clients are Superintendents, College Chancellors and Presidents, Assistant Superintendents of Human Resources and Business, and Special Education Professionals. On a local level, we work with school site Principals and Assistant Principals,” he says.


Specialized Service
One of the benefits of maintaining a narrow practice area focus, is that it ensures that the team at Parker & Covert is completely devoted to serving the needs of schools, which also reduces the likelihood that the firm will find conflicts of interest when cases are referred to them.
Interestingly, the firm’s founders didn’t initially plan to specialize in representing school and community college districts. However, when Proposition 13 passed in 1978, founding partners Spencer E. Covert and Clayton H. Parker (deceased) were already well versed in providing counsel to schools and districts, and identified the increased demand for education law experts which arose as the result.
“The passage of Proposition 13 resulted in dramatic funding cuts for education in California, and we found that few firms specialized in representing school and community college districts. Prior to that time, schools called the County Counsel’s office for advice,” says Covert. As it happened, he and Parker worked together in the Orange County Counsel’s office, where Parker was the chief assistant county counsel, or second-in-command of the office for more than a decade.
For his part, Covert had always believed firmly in the power of public education. “My father was a school Superintendent in Orange County and my mother was the librarian at Fullerton High School. Deciding to pursue education law came naturally to me,” he says. Thus, after working alongside Parker, the two decided to focus their efforts on education law. “After Proposition 13 passed, education law became more complicated. It forced the school and community college districts to consult with outside counsel concerning everything from real property to civil rights issues,” Covert explains.
Because it was one of the first firms of its kind in Southern California, Parker & Covert were at the forefront of significant developments in education law, from the firm’s inception. In fact, just three years after opening their doors, the firm drafted the first Communities Facilities District for a school district under the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act.
That same year, Parker & Covert successfully represented the Fullerton Joint Union High School District in a proceeding that went all the way to the California Supreme Court. The published decision, Fullerton Joint Union High School District v. State Board of Education (1982) 32 Cal.3d 779, 187 Cal. Rptr. 398, reversed a neighboring district’s unification plan on various grounds.
“In Fullerton, the important issue of “one person, one vote” was clearly before the Court because a majority of impacted voters were excluded from voting on the future of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. In addition, there were also environmental consequences regarding the proposed reorganization. The Court’s decision affirmed the importance of voting as well as the requirement to consider environmental consequences,” recalls Covert.
The firm had thus secured its place as a leading education law firm, with this and other successes, and they were only just getting started. By 1989, the firm had filed more than 150 lawsuits on school financing-related issues on behalf of school districts, and had established core areas of practice which the firm still focuses on today. As a full-service education law firm, Advisory Services, Employee Training, Litigation, Negotiations and Labor Relations, Special Education Law, Student Issues, Real Property, and Facilities and Finance are all well within the firm’s wheelhouse.


Immediate Access to Experienced Attorneys
The attorneys at Parker & Covert who provide these muchneeded services, are all seasoned education law experts. They insist upon being accessible to clients. “When clients call us, we are there for them without delay,” says Yeoman. “Since our firm’s founding almost 40 years ago, we have always taken pride in providing our clients with same day responses and accessibility,” he adds.
Moreover, clients needing help will find that they work directly with one of the firm’s eight partners, most who have more than 20 years of experience in the firm’s specialized practice areas. In addition to Covert and Yeoman, the firm’s six additional partners include Jonathan J. Mott, who has practiced education law since 1987, with numerous published cases including Park v. Anaheim Union High School District (9th Cir. 2006) 464 F.3d 1025, and Los Angeles Unified School District v. City of Los Angeles (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 1019, 68 Cal.Rptr.2d 467.
Partner Michael Y.M. Toy’s experience in education law began in 1984, and includes expertise in technical areas unique to school and community college districts, including Brown Act requirements, Public Records Act requirements, and legislative matters. He also focuses on the areas of public finance, elections, public works and facilities, construction litigation and real property acquisition and disposition.
Cynthia Yount, partner since 2000, joined the firm as an associate in 1989, and uses her experience and expertise to represent public school districts in the areas of special education, student discipline, and nonprofit foundation organization. She has been a regular presenter for the annual Orange County Administrators of Special Education, as well as the Orange County Special Education Alliance, California Association of School Business Officials, and California Consortium of Education Foundations. Yount has also presented to national audiences at National School Board Association and American Psychological Association conferences.
Partner Steven Montanez had a career in Human Resources for 15 years before focusing his efforts in education law. An expert in student matters, such as discipline, residency, compulsory school attendance, grade change, challenges to pupil records, and complaints filed under the uniform complaint procedure, Montanez joined Parker & Covert in 1997.
Michael T. Travis joined Parker & Covert in 2006 and has been partner since 2014. A frequent panelist, moderator, and author, he has trained public schools, community colleges, and universities regarding harassment prevention, workplace violence, sexual harassment, Title IX, and EEO issues. He has been named a “Rising Star” in Thomson Reuter’s Super Lawyers list of preeminent attorneys each year since 2013.
Addison Covert, the firm’s Sacramento-based partner along with two Sacramento associate attorneys, are highly seasoned in bond law, and provide counsel to school districts on complex matters including financing for construction of school and administrative facilities, establishment of tax programs, state versus local responsibility for school finance, and guidance regarding the impact of changing California legislation on school finance and state funding levels.
Parker & Covert’s team is rounded out by Associate Attorneys Kara R. Barnthouse and Maryela Martinez in the firm’s Tustin office. Meghan Covert Russell and Stacy L. Toledo are based in the Sacramento office. All attorneys at the firm are also highly active in the legal community, serving in countless roles for various professional associations, such as the Council of School Attorneys, Statewide Association Community Colleges Defense Counsel, California School Boards Association, Legal Advisory Committee to the CSBA Education Legal Alliance, Coalition for Adequate School Housing, NSBA Council of School Attorneys and California Council of School Attorneys.
“Our attorneys are diligent, hard-working and focused on meeting clients’ needs often in the public eye,” says Yeoman. Moreover, because of the firm’s size, Yeoman says that they are able to minimize overhead, all the while maintaining competitive rates, which is clearly an advantage for clients.

Premium Work Products
Specialization, responsiveness, and expertise are certainly the hallmarks of a premier firm, but the true value in services provided to Parker & Covert’s clients lies in the premium work product they have consistently provided to clients over the years. Some of the more visible cases they’ve succeeded in include AFSCME, Local 3112 v. Anaheim Union High School District (2016) PERB Decision No. 2504 [41 PERC 80] in which the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) filed an unfair practice charge alleging that the Anaheim Union High School District unlawfully conditioned an agreement and/or insisted upon impasse in negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement, including that AFSCME agree to certain concessions in return for the District’s promise to lay off a so-called “short list” of employees instead of a more extensive “long list.” The District was faced with layoffs as a result of an $11 million budget shortfall. PERB upheld the ALJ’s decision dismissing all allegations in AFSCME's complaint and the underlying unfair practice charge.
Likewise, in California School Employees Association v. Torrance Unified School District (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 1040 [106 Cal.Rptr.3d 375] the California School Employees Association (CSEA) sought a petition for writ of mandate against the Torrance Unified School District contending that the District violated Education Code section 45203 by failing to pay regular wages to classified employees who did not work on staff development student-free days. The Superior Court denied the writ and the Court of Appeal upheld that denial, holding that staff development studentfree days were not included in the provision of section 45203 requiring payment to classified employees for school days when pupils would otherwise be in attendance. The classified employees who did not work on staff development studentfree days were therefore not entitled to be paid regular wages for those days pursuant to section 45203. These and many others result in an impressive roster of published cases in which Parker & Covert’s attorneys have prevailed for clients.
But to hear Yeoman tell it, providing premium results for clients in need is much more than just a job for the attorneys at Parker & Covert. It is also their passion. “We work to ensure adequate education,” he says. “Our clients are focused on what is in the best interest of students. It is very rewarding, because we are helping kids, and working together for the greater good. Our clients’ hearts are in the right place,” he adds.
In addition, he says that the quality of life afforded to attorneys at Parker & Covert doesn’t hurt when it comes to offering lawyers a bit of balance. “It says a lot that many of us have all worked together for years. The fact that most of our clients aren’t working Saturdays and Sundays, and our attorneys can have a life outside of work, keeps us excited about our work,” he says. Furthermore, the camaraderie at Parker & Covert ensures that the team is able to accomplish their mission of “providing prompt, high-quality legal advice,” Yeoman says.
If the past is any indication of what’s to come, we can expect Parker & Covert to be a permanent fixture in the education law landscape, and that’s precisely what Yeoman says the firm intends to do. Over the coming years, he expects the firm to grow modestly commensurate with demand, while ensuring that the firm maintains their reputation for excellence, by offering immediate access to experienced attorneys, providing premium service, and delivering exceptional results for California school and community college district clients.

Douglas Yeoman
17862 E. Seventeenth St., Suite 204
Tustin, CA 92780


Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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