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Joel De León
Joel De León

In-House Counsel 2023: Joel De León

Rising Star

The war on Ukraine has destroyed thousands of lives, but it has also derailed many a young person’s education plans. Joel De León has set about rectifying that. As general counsel at Eden Prairie-based SABIS and one of its affiliates, The International School of Minnesota (ISM), De León has a full plate with contract law, education law, compliance, privacy, education matters and employment law.

But more important, he took it upon himself last year to have ISM be a part of an effort on behalf of Ukrainian students who wanted to study in America.

“I have a background in immigration law, and we had students from Ukraine who were trying to get to the United States,” he said. “It’s been hard for them to do that since the war started. Fortunately, I knew some things about F1 visas, and we managed to help four of them get here in record time — the process started in April, and the first student got here in July.”

ISM was able to provide four full scholarships for tuition and room and board for the students.

After spending a decade as a teacher in public schools in Texas and Minnesota, De León came to ISM two years ago. In that short amount of time, he has led the school to review and draft new policies to deal with COVID-19 as well as race, gender and other issues. He has also favorably negotiated complex contracts with the school’s technology and education vendors.

At the moment, De León is helping the school keep track of ongoing developments around the Family and Medical Leave Act, both at the Minnesota legislature and nationwide.

“Making sure kids have the resources they need before they get into the classroom is a big priority for us,” he said.”

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