Mr. Gerhardt is a member of the firm practicing with the Educational Institutions Team and the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. He has a very diverse practice reflecting years of education policy and legal work. He counsels school districts, BOCES, municipalities and other government entities on a wide range of issues. He litigates matters in court and through administrative proceedings relating to personnel matters, constitutional questions and labor law issues. He frequently counsels clients on student related matters and has litigated constitutional free speech issues.
Mr. Gerhardt’s client base is statewide serving as general counsel, special counsel and public sector labor counsel to firm clients in the western New York, Long Island and North Country regions. Mr. Gerhardt is integrally involved in guiding firm clients on new laws and rules impacting educational institutions.
Mr. Gerhardt also counsels and provides strategic advice to corporations, including stewarding these entities through corporate establishment and attaining charitable status for not-for-profit organizations at the IRS. Mr. Gerhardt also represents clients in litigation and matters before a variety of government state agencies including the New York State Education Department, New York State Attorney General’s Office, New York State Liquor Authority, New York State Comptroller’s Office and the New York State Division of Human Rights.
Prior to joining Harris Beach, Mr. Gerhardt was General Counsel to the New York State Council of School Superintendents where he supervised all aspects of the organization’s legal services. Mr. Gerhardt negotiated contracts, worked through complicated public employment and school law issues as well as offered discrete counsel on personnel matters. He was integrally involved in the implementation of new rules impacting school district audits and retiree hiring practices. In 2006, Mr. Gerhardt oversaw the Council’s involvement as amicus curiae before the United States Supreme Court in Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. Murphy (126 S. Ct. 2455 (2006)). The successful case examined whether the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) permits parents to recover fees paid to experts during legal actions against school districts.
Before working at the Council, Mr. Gerhardt was Director of Government Relations and Assistant Counsel for the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). Mr. Gerhardt litigated matters for administrators in disciplinary actions, court and PERB proceedings as well as collective bargaining. He also served as SAANYS’ chief lobbyist and liaison on all government relations matters. He began his legal career as a counsel to Assembly Speakers Sheldon Silver and Saul Weprin.
Mr. Gerhardt teaches Education Law as an Adjunct Professor of the Thelma Lally School of Education at the College of St. Rose and Union College’s Graduate School of Teaching where he initiated what is now a mandatory component of the college’s graduate school curriculum. In 2009, Mr. Gerhardt was appointed an adjunct faculty member at Albany Law School.
Professional & Community Activities
Mr. Gerhardt adds a unique blend of professional and personal endeavors to his background. Professionally, he is president of the Management Advocates for School Labor Affairs (MASLA), a statewide organization of attorneys and human resource professionals working in schools statewide. He is a longstanding, active member of the New York State Bar Association where he served as chair of the Public Sector Law Committee of the Labor Law Section. Through these and other affiliations, Mr. Gerhardt is a frequent lecturer on legal issues impacting school districts, public employers and employment relations.
He has published the following articles: “Making Garcetti’s Practical Inquiry Into Public Employee Free Speech Rights,” Municipal Lawyer, New York State Bar Association Vol. 4, No. 2 (Spring 2010); “District Cannot Impose Suspension Imposed by Student’s Prior District,” On Board, New York State School Boards Association, Vol. 11 No. 13 (July 19, 2010); “Perspectives on the Employee Free Choice Act,” Saratoga and Glens Falls Business Review, (March 2009); and “Jack Welsh at the Helm: The New Age of School Leadership?” Vanguard Magazine (March 2001).
Personally, Mr. Gerhardt is a member of and counsel to the Temple Sinai Board of Directors and the Saratoga City School District’s Superintendent Parent Forum Committee. He has been an active fundraiser for Double “H” Hole in the Woods Ranch in Lake Luzerne and a coach for the Saratoga Athletic Little League. Mr. Gerhardt is an active outdoorsman and athlete. He formerly served as a National Park Ranger in Grand Teton National Park where he patrolled trails and portions of the Snake River, summited the highest peak in Europe and regularly runs marathons and triathlons. He published the article, “The Waterfall Hunters,” in the March 2009 edition of the Adirondack Explorer.