Donald F. Austin
PRACTICE AREAS Mr. Austin has practiced law since 1986, primarily in the areas of school law and litigation. He is admitted to practice in Washington, California, and Idaho and has tried cases and appeals in federal and state courts.
Mr. Austin has worked inside school districts for 25 years, first as a teacher and later as General Counsel for Ventura Unified School District in California. He has represented more than 100 school districts and is a Past President of the California Council of School Attorneys. Before practicing law, he taught English and coached football, wrestling, soccer, and swimming at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. In the last event he coached, his team won the Oregon State Girls Swimming Championship.
Since 2006, Mr. Austin has pioneered a unique approach for schools to use in protecting children from sexual abuse. This approach translates what Sex Offender Treatment Providers know about sexual grooming into school board policies and employee trainings. This work was instrumental in the Washington State School Directors Association adopting BP 5253, a model board policy for Washington school districts on “Professional Boundaries” (BP 5253). Mr. Austin has also assisted the Alaska Association of School Boards in creating a similar Professional Boundaries model board policy (BP 5141.42).
Mr. Austin’s legal experience includes a wide variety of litigation and investigations. His litigation includes cases involving allegations of sexual abuse; sexual harassment; race, gender, age, and disability discrimination; employee misconduct; and catastrophic injuries. He provides general school law advice to school districts, as well as advice on special education and section 504 issues. He also represents school districts in special education due process hearings.
Mr. Austin has taught School Law as an adjunct professor in graduate schools of education at Washington State University, Seattle Pacific University, California State University at Northridge, and California Lutheran University.
- Northwest School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, Juris Doctorate, 1986
- Associate Editor for the law review, Environmental Law
- Portland State University, B.A. and M.A.T., English 1970, 1977
- Attended on wrestling scholarships
Publications / Presentations / Speaking EngagementsMr. Austin is a frequent speaker at national, state, and local levels, having presented to:
- NSBA: National School Boards Association
- NSBA COSA: NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys
- ELA: Education Law Association
- NASDTEC: National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification
- CSBA: California School Board Association
- CCOSA: California Council of School Attorneys
- CASBO: California Association of School Business Officials
- WSSDA: Washington State School Directors Association
- WCOSA: Washington Council of School Attorneys
- WSPA: Washington School Personnel Association
- WAPA: Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
- CSDSIP: Colorado School Districts Self-Insurance Pool
- AASB: Alaska Association of School Boards
- ASA: Alaska Superintendents Association
- And scores of school districts.