Ashley N. Emerzian is Senior Counsel in Lozano Smith's Fresno office. Ms. Emerzian provides a wide array of services to the firm's school district clients, with a focus on general counsel and labor and employment matters. She handles certificated and classified employee discipline matters, and advises clients regarding compliance with state and federal employment law. She also sits at the bargaining table on behalf of management and regularly advises clients regarding negotiations strategy and collective bargaining proposals. Ms. Emerzian is trained in traditional negotiations strategies and is also certified in interest-based bargaining techniques. Additionally, Ms. Emerzian has significant experience in drafting school administrator employment agreements. In particular, Ms. Emerzian has extensive knowledge of CalSTRS and CalPERS laws governing creditable service, creditable compensation and post-retirement employment matters. Ms. Emerzian also advises clients regarding investigating complaints involving students, including searches of student and employee technology devices, and assists clients with school safety issues.
For 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Ms. Emerzian was named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine. Each year, less than two and a half percent of lawyers in California receive this designation.
Articles & Publications
"Creditable Compensation Regs FAQ" - Education California
, Vol. 45 Num. 16, Association of California School Administrators (January 26, 2015)
"CalSTRS Creditable Service Alert: Positions Not Eligible" - Small School Districts' Association November/December 2013
Ms. Emerzian regularly provides presentations and trainings for school district administrators, staff and school boards on a range of topics including CalSTRS, CalPERS & PEPRA, sexual harassment, investigation procedures and complaint processes, employee discipline, board governance and mandated reporting. Ms. Emerzian has been a guest speaker for the Association of California School Administrators and various county offices of education.
Ms. Emerzian received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif for high academic performance. During law school she earned the UC Davis Public Interest Law Certificate as well as several Witkin awards for academic excellence. She graduated cum laude
from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Global Studies.
Ms. Emerzian is admitted to practice in all California state courts, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California and the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit.
In her spare time, Ms. Emerzian is committed to serving her community through volunteer work. She currently serves as the Board President for Fresno Barrios Unidos, a local non-profit which provides programs to assist youth in overcoming barriers to success in health, education and civic engagement. She is also an organizer for the UC Davis School of Law Fresno Alumni Network. Additionally, the Board of Trustees for the State Bar of California appointed Ms. Emerzian to serve on the California Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors, representing the Central Valley from 2013-2016.
On January 1, 2016 Assembly Bill (AB) 963, a CalSTRS-sponsored bill addressing creditable service issues, became law. With the law now in final form, this Client News Brief updates our Client News Brief No. 26, April 2015.
AB 963 accomplishes four goals:The bill "grandfathers" in all service that did not meet the definition of creditable service in place at the time but was reported to CalSTRS anyway on or before December 31, 2015.
The bill allows members who are gran...
CalSTRS recently issued an Employer Information Circular (EIC) containing important reminders of common errors leading to negative audit findings for school districts, county offices of education and community colleges.
The EIC addresses proper reporting for special compensation and clarifies that extra-duty compensation must be reported separately from special compensation. For example, off-schedule bonuses or advanced degree pay are reported differently than co...
New changes are once again on the horizon for CalSTRS enrollment. A new bill amending the definition of "creditable service" for the CalSTRS system will be considered by the legislature in the coming months. Retirement benefits under the Defined Benefit Plan administered by CalSTRS are calculated using a member's years of creditable service, age at retirement, and final compensation. However, compensation is reported to CalSTRS only if paid for work that constitutes "...
The CalSTRS creditable compensation regulations adopted this past September officially came into force January 1, 2015. The new regulations define creditable compensation for CalSTRS members who entered the public retirement system prior to January 1, 2013 (i.e., "classic" or "2% at 60" members). The regulations prescribe new rules governing which forms of compensation count for the Defined Benefit program as opposed to the Defined Benefit Supplement account, thereby ...
The long-awaited CalSTRS creditable compensation regulations were adopted by the CalSTRS Board on September 4, 2014. The new regulations govern how CalSTRS will treat various forms of compensation for CalSTRS members who entered the system prior to January 1, 2013 (these members are usually referred to as "classic" or "2% at 60" members). The regulations take effect January 1, 2015.
The use of formal regulations to provide guidance on the treatment of compensat...
As specified in the November 25, 2013 Employer Information Circular, CalSTRS is currently allowing employers to use the employer correction statute (Education Code § 22308) to file an election form with a retroactive effective date. The retroactive election is allowed for any employee who was eligible to make such an election in the past but failed to do so because the employer did not provide the employee with the necessary information regarding his or her el...
Lozano Smith has continued to coordinate with ACSA, CASBO and other administrative associations for K-12 and community college administrators regarding the steps that school districts and community colleges should take in response to the August 29, 2012 CalSTRS Circular Letter raising questions about the creditable service of employees in certain administrative positions.
CalSTRS publication of a second Circular Letter on November 25, 2013 provided useful guidance...
Today (November 25, 2013) CalSTRS issued a new Circular Vol. 29, Issue 3 - "Right of Retirement System Election When Changing Positions," allowing any CalSTRS member who believes that they are, or may have been, employed in a position that is not clearly eligible for CalSTRS membership to have their employer file an election form (ES372) within 180 days in order to ensure that all of their service counts as creditable for retirement purposes.
This remedy comes i...
On August 29, 2012, CalSTRS issued an Employer Information Circular entitled "Positions Not Eligible for Creditable Service." This Circular identified several positions as not being eligible for CalSTRS, including "Director of Human Resources." This Circular gave rise to a wave of uncertainty and angst regarding whether many positions previously considered certificated positions were, in fact, improperly reported to CalSTRS. This Circular followed a CalSTRS audit o...
Now is a good time to start thinking about the agenda for your agency's upcoming annual organizational meeting. The governing board of each school district must hold an annual organizational meeting prior to the close of each calendar year. (Ed. Code § 35143.) During an election year, the meeting must be held within a 15-day window beginning with the date upon which the newly elected members take office. During non-election years, the meeting must be held with...
In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, (June 25, 2013 ___ U.S. ___ [2013 WL 3184629]), holding that Section 4(b) of the federal Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Section 4(b) contains the formula, based on data from the 1960's and 1970's, for determining which states or political subdivisions are "covered jurisdictions" for purposes of the Voting Rights Act's preclearance requirement. "Covered jurisdictions...
In County of Los Angeles v. Service Employees International Union, Local 721 (May 30, 2013___ P.3d___ [2013 WL 2348163]), the California Supreme Court held: (1) unions have a presumptive entitlement to contact information for all employees they represent, including those who have not joined the union; (2) although public employees have a privacy interest in their home addresses and telephone numbers, the balance of interests strongly favors disclosure of this informati...