Danielle J. Haindfield
100 Court Avenue, Suite 600
Des Moines, IA 50309-2231
J.D. (High Honors), Drake University, 1999
B.A. (Magna Cum Laude), Drake University, 1996
As a member of the firm’s K-12 Education Law group, Danielle enjoys serving school districts in a variety of capacities, including: counseling on student and personnel issues, such as student discipline and employee misconduct; performing contract and policy review; conducting real estate transactions; and advising on basic board governance issues, such as open meeting and records laws. Danielle serves as general counsel to the Iowa Association of School Business Officials (IASBO), and as a result, gets the unique opportunity to meet, work with and teach many of the state’s school board secretaries, business managers and other school business office personnel.
Danielle has developed an emphasis in the area of construction law. Danielle’s knowledge and experience in construction law has also been utilized by the other departments in the firm, including the Public Finance & Law department, as a way to provide a broader range of service to the firm’s existing municipal and local government clients.
Danielle attended Drake University where she was a public relations major and then went on to attend Drake University Law School. While in law school, Danielle served as Articles Editor for the Drake Law Review and President of the Drake Moot Court Board. She is an honorary member of the Order of the Barristers and graduated Order of the Coif.
Danielle joined the firm in 1996, after clerking with the firm in law school. Danielle has served as past chair of the firm’s Recruiting Committee and Associate Development Committee and currently serves on the firm's Management Committee.
- Successfully defended the second largest school district in the state against a temporary injunction action brought by the unsuccessful bidder alleging violations of Iowa's Competitive Bidding Law on the school district's 3 phase $31 million dollar administrative building project.
- Successfully negotiated a settlement, prior to suit, in favor of an Iowa school district for claims of breach of contract, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, and negligence against a nationwide consulting firm, arising out of a superintendent search.
- Represented the largest school district in the state throughout its comprehensive ten-year school improvement program which involved more than $240 million in school renovations and new construction. Throughout this ten-year program, drafted and negotiated the RFP and contract documents for the hiring of the school district’s construction program manager, reviewed, revised and updated various construction contract forms for compliance with changes in the law, defended the school district in litigation related to construction claims and advised and counseled the district and its in-house counsel on various bidding and other construction related issues.
- Performed a mid-year, cause termination of a school district superintendent and, subsequently, successfully defended the school district against more than ten different claims filed against it by the terminated employee, including Civil Rights claims, unemployment claims, workers’ compensation claims, civil property claims and professional disciplinary complaints.
- Successfully defended a federal trial court’s ruling on behalf of a school district before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the school district upheld its financial responsibilities of a contractual agreement and did not owe additional sums to a construction program manager/owner representative for services it provided at its own risk. Rambo Associates, Inc. v. South Tama County Community School District, 487 F.3d 1178 *8th Cir. 2007; 512 F.3d 998 (8th Cir. 2008).
- Successfully defended, on appeal before the Iowa Department of Education, a school district’s local decision to close an elementary attendance center due to declining enrollment and increased budgetary costs.
- Have successfully negotiated separation agreements and developed media communications strategies for various school districts across the state dealing with high profile personnel misconduct or ethics issues.
American Bar Association -- Sections: State and Local Government Law, Construction Law
Iowa State Bar Association
Polk County Bar Association
Polk County Women Attorneys
National Council of School Attorneys
Iowa Council of School Attorneys
Association of School Business Officials International
Iowa Association of School Business Officials
Best Lawyers in America©
- Construction Law (2021-2024)
- Education Law (2022-2024)
Super Lawyers Great Plains - Schools & Education (2022-2023, Rising Star 2013-2014)
Business Record, feature on women business leaders, March 2017
Business Record, Forty Under 40 – Class of 2013
Iowa State Bar Association, Graduating Senior Award, June 1999
Danielle's most recent speaking engagements include:
Iowa Association of School Boards, Annual Convention, "Board Secretary Workshop," with Carrie Weber and Iowa Association of School Boards' Anna Harmon, and "Lions & Tigers & Open Meetings, Oh My," November 2023
Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Fall Conference, "New Member Orientation on Legal and Ethical Considerations for School Business Officials," "Stump the Attorneys," with Kristy Latta and Miriam Van Heukelem and "Running School Boards," with Siobhan Schneider with Iowa Association of School Boards, September 2023
Iowa State University, Iowa School Business Management Academy, "Legal - Basic Governance" & "Legal System as applied to School Districts," May 2023
Iowa Association of School Boards, 2023 Safety Group Risk Management Workshop, "Common Public Official Wrongful Acts," April 2023
Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Spring Conference, "It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This - How to Prepare for and What to Do After a School Construction Project Goes Bad?," with Brad Beaman and "Hot Topics in Education Law" with Kristy Latta and Miriam Van Heukelem, March 2023
Iowa Association of School Boards, Annual Convention, "Board Secretary Workshop," with panel and "Promises & Pitfalls of Construction Managers at Risk (CMAR)," with Ryan Ellsworth, Estes Construction, November 2022
Iowa State University, Iowa School Business Management Academy, "Legal - Basic Governance," "Legal System as Applied to School Districts," and "Top 5 School Legal Issues" with Katherine Beenken, Kristy Latta, and Miriam Van Heukelem, April 2022
Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Spring Conference, "Facility Planning and Procurement," "Legal and Practical Issues with School Board Meetings," and "Public Purpose and Creative Ways to Support Schools," March 2022
Iowa Superintendents Finance & Leadership Consortium, "Conference on School Sharing Agreements and Communications with the Public," February 2022
Iowa State University, Iowa School Business Management Academy, “System as Applied to School Districts Part I,” “System as Applied to School Districts Part II,” and “Basic Governance," April 2021
Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Spring Conference, “Does This Really Need to Go to the Board -- Determining What Items Need to be Approved by the Board,” with Siobhan Schneider, IASB, April 2021; and "Disaster Strikes...Now What?,” March 2021
Iowa Association of School Boards, IASB Leadership Series, “Employee Vaccination Questions, Answered,” with Tammi Drawbaugh, Board Member, Muscatine CSD and Jessica Dirks, HR Director, Ankeny CSD, February 2021
Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Employment Law Webinar Series, "Impact of Politics and Racial Harassment Issues," with Aaron Hilligas and Elizabeth Heffernan, February 2021
Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Virtual Fall Conference, "Options for Employers in Managing Personnel Costs During the COVID Era: Staff Reductions, Furloughs and Early Retirement," October 2020
Ahlers & Cooney, Employment Law Client Seminar, "Audits by State Auditor," November 2019
Iowa State University, Iowa School Business Management Academy, “Legal System as Applied to School Districts,” and “Basic Governance,” May 2019
Iowa Association of School Boards, Policy Leadership & Legal Issues Conference, “Investigation vs. Adjudication: The Board’s Role in Licensed Employee Contract Termination,” with Eric Howards, HR Services Director, IASB, April 2019
Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association, Spring Conference, “RFQ’s, RFP’s, Public Bidding, oh my!,” April 2019
Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Spring Conference, “Best Practices in Construction Projects” with Dubuque Schools' CFO and Director of Buildings and Grounds,“Board Secretary 101.5,” and “RFP and Competitive Bidding,” March 2019
Iowa Superintendents Finance & Leadership Consortium, 2019 February Conference, “Managing Your Budget Through Salary Schedules, Insurance and Other Means,” February 2019
Iowa Municipal New City Attorney Institute, "Competitive Bidding," November 2018
Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Fall Conference, "Buying and Selling Property and School Boundary Issues","Dealing with Difficult Citizens and Parent Complaints," and "Ethics and Legal Considerations for School Business Officials," October 2018
Published Articles & Books
ABC's of Public Contract Bidding and Construction Law", Contributing Author/Editor, Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., 2012
“School Violence: From Discipline to Due Process,” Contributing Author/Editor, American Bar Association, 2004
“Wall of Separation or Path to Interaction, the Uncertain Constitutional Future of School Vouchers in Light of Inconsistent Developments in Judicial Neutrality Between Church and State,” 48 Drake Law Review 403, 2000
“America’s Children at Risk,” Contributing Author, American Bar Association, 2000
“Handbook on Iowa Open Meetings and Open Records Law,” Contributing Author/Editor, Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., 2000
Professional, Community and Civic Leadership
Iowa Superintendents Finance and Leadership Consortium (ISFLC), Instructor (2019 - present)
Drake University Law School, Board of Counselors (2017 - present)
National School Boards Association, Council of School Attorneys, Board of Directors (2012-2016)
Iowa Council of School Attorneys, Executive Board (2008-Present), Chair (2009-10, 2015-2016)
New Horizon's Preschool, Board of Directors (2013-2016)
Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, Class of 2013-2014
Iowa School Business Management Academy-Iowa State University, Instructor (2004 - present)
Drake Law Women Advisory Board Member (2012-2013)
Leadership Circle Member, United Way of Central Iowa