Mary Ann Stewart

Mary Ann Stewart

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Mary Ann Stewart is a Member of Adams Law, PLLC. She is a Managing Partner of the Firm and co-manages the local government practice group and school law group.

Ms. Stewart is widely recognized as one of the leading attorneys in the area representing city and county governments, special purpose entities, and school districts, and the employees of these entities. In addressing why she was drawn to this area of the law, Ms. Stewart states: “Since my days as a student at Thomas More College, and an intern in U.S. Senator Wendell Ford’s office, I have always been captivated by the idea that government and community are intertwined, and when they work together, they can be a powerful instrument of change.  A community grows and thrives when it is working collaboratively with a government that is supported by honest, thoughtful, and creative policies, procedures, and practices. I enjoy guiding my clients through intricate and complex challenges, that will yield positive, lasting results for the constituencies which they serve”.

Ms. Stewart is also passionate about her representation of public health districts and local public school districts.  “I feel fortunate to be able to represent public school districts and the local public health districts and regional health district.  These entities, while serving the needs of the at-large population, deliver much needed services to those sectors of our community which are easily overlooked or taken for granted — children, elderly, the working poor, and lower income populations.”

A native of Northern Kentucky, Ms. Stewart grew up in Covington and has lived in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, with her husband, Dick Stewart, since 1995.  She attended Holy Cross High School and Thomas More College.  She graduated from University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1988, and has been practicing law since.  She joined Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing P.L.L.C. (now Adams Law) as an Associate in 1999 and was elevated to Member in 2005. Prior to her association with Adams Law, she worked as a litigation associate in a large regional law firm, and prior to that as an associate for two small, solo practices.

Ms. Stewart has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Thomas More College and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. She is admitted to practice law in Kentucky and Ohio, as well as the United States District Court, Eastern District of Kentucky; the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; and the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio.

Ms. Stewart is an active, participating member of the Kentucky and Northern Kentucky Bar Associations. Her involvement with the Kentucky Bar Association has involved being appointed to the House of Delegates and the Kentucky Bar Association’s Client Security Fund Board. She has served two terms as the Kenton County Director At Large for the Northern Kentucky Bar Association and three terms as the Kenton County Director At Large for the Northern Kentucky Bar Foundation. Ms. Stewart also is actively engaged with the Kentucky Council of School Board Attorneys, the National School Boards Association Council of Attorneys, and the Kentucky League of Cities.

Additionally, Ms. Stewart has over the years volunteered her time and energy with other community organizations, having served in various capacities with organizations such as HONK, Covington Partners, Citizen’s Advocacy, Northern Kentucky Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor, Children, Inc., and various committees and boards with the Diocese of Covington. She was a Governor’s appointee to the Kentucky Commission for Human Rights and served in that capacity for two full terms.

Ms. Stewart’s hobbies include traveling with her husband and family; taking the family dog to local parks and hiking trails, and cheering on the Cincinnati Reds and UC Bearcats.  She is an avid reader of history, and science fiction, and is often heard dropping lines from Star Wars or Star Trek in casual conversations.

Ms. Stewart has over 25 years of experience representing all levels of governmental clients. Her experience includes providing legal guidance, support, and litigation services for state and local governmental bodies, as well as, individual governmental employees, from high-level administrators to staff.

Ms. Stewart began her career as an Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Covington. She was responsible for all litigation involving the police and fire departments, and worked closely with the City Manager, the Mayor, and City Commission; the Civil Service Commission; and the Board of Adjustments. From that point, Ms. Stewart’s representation of local governments expanded to include other cities, as well as various county and regional bodies, and school boards. Some of her representative clients include:

  • City of Southgate
  • City of Crestview Hills
  • City of Villa Hills
  • Lakeside Park-Crestview Hills Police Authority
  • Northern Kentucky Independent District Board of Health
    • Kenton County Board of Health
    • Boone County Board of Health
    • Grant County Board of Health
    • Campbell County Board of Health
  • Kenton County Public Library
  • Campbell County Cable Board and Campbell County Media Center
  • Campbell County Consolidated Dispatch Board
  • Covington Independent Public School District
  • Boone County Public Schools
  • Bracken County School District
  • Fort Thomas Independent School District

Ms. Stewart works closely with her clients, providing input, guidance, and support in policy development, legislation, public procurements, human resources, zoning and economic development, records retention and production, and compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. She has developed a wide network of contacts in all levels and types of governments and consequently is able to efficiently and effectively navigate through logistical complexities that are part of the territory in representing local governments.

There are few attorneys who practice in the area of school law, and far fewer who specialize in representing school districts and school district employees. Ms. Stewart has developed an expertise providing legal guidance and support to Boards of Education, Superintendents, Principals, Teachers, and other staff spanning both county school districts and independent school districts.

Ms. Stewart has successfully defended school districts and school district employees in complicated litigation in all levels of the State and Federal Courts on claims involving the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act), Coverdell immunity, KERA (Kentucky Educational Reform Act), Civil Rights, and Title IX compliance. Furthermore, Ms. Stewart has prosecuted and defended teacher tribunals, expulsion hearings, disciplinary review hearings, and special education due process hearings. Some of Ms. Stewart’s recent court-room successes include:

  • Litigating and obtaining judgment on behalf of a school administrator on a student’s claims that she was subjected to peer-on-peer bullying and sexual harassment
  • Litigating and obtaining judgments on behalf of teachers, principals, and boards of education in claims filed in state and federal courts for negligent supervision, whistle-blower actions, and negligent hiring

In addition to litigation work, Ms. Stewart provides day-to-day advice and practical guidance in areas such as policy development, public procurements, laws relating to certified and classified employees, bullying laws, mandatory reporting laws, special education, tenure, open meetings, and open records laws. She regularly advises and provides active support in student special education matters, including the development of IEPs (individual education plans) and 504 plans.

Ms. Stewart represents both public and private employers in all facets of employment law. She provides day-to-day general counsel advice and guidance, as well as litigation support. Her employment practice is diverse and includes experience with compliance with federal and state regulations and in-house training.

Ms. Stewart served for several years as a Governor’s appointee to the Kentucky Commission for Human Rights, where she presided over and ruled on claims brought by employees against both public and private employers.

As a practitioner, Ms. Stewart is familiar with and can easily navigate any claim filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Kentucky Human Rights Commission, Kentucky Department of Labor, and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. She has successfully represented employers and employees in all levels of state and federal courts. Some of her key accomplishments include:

  • Obtained summary judgment dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a former principal against a Superintendent and School Board for improper demotion
  • Obtained summary judgment dismissal, which was upheld at the Kentucky Court of Appeals, on a police officer’s lawsuit brought against a City for wrongful termination
  • Obtained dismissals at the EEOC and Kentucky Human Rights Commission for actions brought by employees against their employers for wrongful termination
  • Has successfully mediated disputes brought before the EEOC and in state and federal courts
  • Has successfully negotiated severance packages for both employers and employees
  • Has guided employers with reduction in force (RIF) plans
  • Has written and updated policy manuals, employee handbooks, and operating protocols for public and private employers

Ms. Stewart has at the request of clients provided to their employees comprehensive, in-house training seminars on sexual harassment, respect in the workplace, diversity in the workplace, FMLA compliance, and wage and hour laws.

Presentation Topics:

  • Student Expulsions & Suspensions: Legal Issues Surrounding School Discipline
    Date: 10/5/2006
    Location/Organization: National Business Institute, Lexington, KY.
  • Procuring Headaches – Model Procurement Code Analysis for Schools
    Date: 7/8/2011
    Location/Organization: Kentucky Council for School Attorneys, Lexington, KY.
  • Panel Member: Do’s and Don’ts in Administrative Due Process Hearings
    Date: 5/18/2012
    Location/Organization: Kentucky Administrative Hearing Officers’ Association, Frankfort, KY.
  • Fundamental Ppls. Of State and Federal Immunity for Public Employees
    Date: 10/27/2011
    Location/Organization: Ohio Casualty/Liberty Mutual – In house training sessions conducted for all adjusters handling claims against public entities
  • Student Constitutional Rights
    Date: 6/3/2013
    Location/Organization: Cov. Indep. Public School Administrators
  • Search & Seizure of Students: Hot Topics and Recent Trends
    Date: 6/7/2013
    Location/Organization: Kentucky Association of Superintendents and Administrators, Lexington, KY.
  • Disciplining Students with Special Needs
    Date: Aug. 16, 2010
    Location/Organization: Northern Kentucky School Administrators, Covington, KY.
  • The Hows and Whys of Kentucky’s Open Records Act
    Date: 8/16/2010
    Location/Organization: Northern Kentucky School Administrators, Covington, KY.
  • Sexual Harrassment in the School Setting
    Date: August – 2010, 2011, 2013
    Location/Organization: Covington Independent Public School District Employees’ Annual Training, Covington, KY.
  • Respect in the Workplace: A series of 10-12 training sessions given to management and non-management employees
    Date: May – June, 2011 – 2013
    Location/Organization: Sanitation District No. 1
  • Respect in the Workplace: A series of 10-12 training sessions given to management and non-management employees
    Date: May, 2013
    Location/Organization: Ronan Engineering
  • The Community Access Preservation Act
    Date: Oct. – Nov., 2009
    Location/Organization: Presented for Campbell County Cable Board and televised on Public Access throughout Campbell County to explain the significance of the CAP Act for funding for governmental, educational, and public access
  • Diversity in the Workplace
    Date: 7/26/2006
    Location/Organization:Presented to the City of Fort Thomas management and non-management employees as part of annual training
  • Municipal Liability and Defenses Under Kentucky Law
    Date: 1/20/2004
    Location/Organization: Northern Kentucky Bar Association, Covington, Ky.
  • Analyzing The Ability of A City to Regulate Adult Entertainment Businesses Through Licensing Regulations
    Date: 8/19/2003
    Location/Organization: Kentucky Bar Association, Annual Convention, 2003, Covington, KY.
  • Reading, Writing, and Right to An Attorney: When Administrators Must Give Students Miranda Warnings
    Date: January, 2014
    Location/Organization: Kentucky Council for School Attorneys Winter Conference
  • Panelists on “Ask a City or County Attorney”
    Date: 3/13/2015
    Location/Organization: Northern Kentucky Area Development District’s Training for Newly Elected Officials
  • Surviving and Thriving in the Special Ed Jungle
    Date: 3/19/2015
    Location/Organization: Kentucky Association of School Administrators
  • Consents For Medical Services Seminar 
    Date: 9/12/2017
    Location/Organization: Presented as an internal training for the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department
  • How to Avoid Being Sued
    Date: 10/4/2017
    Location/Organization: Presented to the Kentucky League of Cities Annual Conference
  • When The Customer Is Not Always Right
    Date: 11/3/2017
    Location/Organization: Presented to the Kentucky Public Administrators’ Conference
  • Panel Member: Ethics, Procedure and Other Legal Issues for City Officials
    Date: 04/25/2018
    Location/Organization: Kentucky Municipal Clerks, Spring Conference, Covington, KY
  • Manifestation Determination Reviews: Did the Disability Cause the Behavior?
    Date: 05/14/2018
    Location/Organization: National Business Institute: Special Education Law
  • Advanced Issues Under Kentucky’s Open Records and Open Meetings Acts
    Date: 05/23/2018
    Location/Organization: Kentucky League of Cities Officials Academy, Lexington, Ky.

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