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Education Laws and Regulations

Summary of Arbitration Awards
Issued Pursuant to General Laws Chapter 71 And Related Judicial Decisions

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II. Description of Awards

A. Teacher Dismissals Pursuant to Section 42

General Laws c. 71, § 42, ¶ 3 provides that:

A teacher with professional teacher status, pursuant to section forty-one, shall not be dismissed except for inefficiency, incompetence, incapacity, conduct unbecoming a teacher, insubordination or failure on the part of the teacher to satisfy teacher performance standards developed pursuant to section thirty-eight of this chapter or other just cause.

  1. Greater Lawrence Regional Voc. Tech. School & N. S.2 — October 12, 1994

    Upheld teacher dismissal because he engaged in conduct unbecoming a teacher and violated school policies. The teacher failed to use good judgment when he drove students to and from his home, although he was legally blind. The teacher used the students to provide "free labor" and did not adequately supervise them. [22 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00565-94Arbitrator Craig E. Overton

  2. Hopkinton Public Schools — February 13, 1995

    Upheld teacher dismissal for sexually harassing female students. [11 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00572-94Arbitrator Arnold M. Zack

  3. Braintree Public Schools — June 12, 1995

    Teacher in the Title I program did not have a right to arbitration for her non-renewal because she did not have professional teacher status [PTS]. [Nine pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01762-94Arbitrator Robert M. O'Brien

  4. Lexington Public Schools — January 16, 1995 & July 14, 1995

    In the first decision, the arbitrator applied the traditional arbitral just cause standard to each of the specified reasons in the statute and held that the standard of proof was clear and convincing evidence. [Four pages]
    In the second decision, the arbitrator upheld the teacher's dismissal for "inefficiency, incompetence, failure to satisfy the district's performance standards and failure to remediate identified deficiencies." The district argued that the teacher failed to communicate with students, construct or implement lesson plans, or effectively manage the classroom. [37 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00571-94Arbitrator Bruce Fraser

  5. Lynn Public Schools & P. H. — April 11, 1995 & July 31, 1995

    In the first decision, the arbitrator ruled that the 30-day period to file a petition runs from the date the teacher receives the actual notice of dismissal, and not from the date the teacher receives the notice of intent to dismiss. Since the district sent a notice of its intent to dismiss, but did not follow up with a notice to dismiss, the arbitrator computed the 30-day period from the date the teacher met with the superintendent and the termination became effective. [Six pages.]
    In the second decision, the arbitrator overturned the teacher's dismissal and ordered that the teacher be reinstated with back pay and benefits. The district's concerns about the teacher's conduct were based upon incidents that occurred more than a year before the teacher was dismissed. The district argued that the teacher used inappropriate language and failed to discipline students, review IEPs or to teach for the allotted period. [20 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00573-94Arbitrator Paul J. Dorr

  6. Petersham Public Schools — August 13, 1995

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher with 28 years of service for physical and psychological abuse of students because the arbitrator did not find the district's evidence to be credible. The arbitrator equated good cause and just cause. He determined that the teacher was not afforded adequate notice or opportunity to present her story to the superintendent. She was reinstated with all benefits. [65 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02253-94Arbitrator Tim Bornstein

  7. Greater Lowell Regional Voc. Tech. School — August 25, 1995

    Overturned teacher's dismissal. Arbitrator ordered that the teacher be reinstated, with his time off payroll treated as a suspension. The district had dismissed the teacher for manhandling students, charging students a usurious rate when loaning them money, and using profane, derogatory and abusive language. The arbitrator concluded that the teacher's behavior did not merit dismissal. [28 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-307-95Arbitrator Susan Brown

  8. Boston School Committee & R. S. — November 21, 1995

    Teacher was found to have abandoned his position by failing to appear for two months. The arbitrator stated that even if the teacher was dismissed, his failure to show up to work created "sufficient [facts] to satisfy a just cause standard." [12 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-2277-94Arbitrator Roberta L. Golick

  9. Blue Hills Regional Vocational Technical School & L. Z. — November 21, 1995

    Upheld guidance counselor's dismissal for poor performance, including inefficiency, incapacity and insubordination. The counselor allegedly did not carry out her responsibilities and refused to follow instructions or complete tasks. [32 pages]
    AAA# 1139-0562-94Arbitrator Parker Denaco

  10. Boston Public Schools & E. G. — December 20, 1995

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher with over 30 years of service for inappropriately disciplining students. The arbitrator applied the traditional arbitral standard of "just cause." She held that the teacher was not provided with due process or progressive discipline and remanded the determination of the remedy to the parties. [84 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01267-94Arbitrator Marcia L. Greenbaum

  11. Medford Public Schools& J. F. — July 8, 1996

    Overturned teacher dismissal and ordered reinstatement. The teacher had been dismissed for conduct unbecoming a teacher, incompetence, insubordination, failure to satisfy performance standards, and inefficiency. The teacher allegedly misrepresented her physical disabilities, harassed school officials, failed to return parent calls, maintain files, or work full school days. However, the arbitrator ruled that the district's failure to comply with contractual provisions governing notice to employees about information inserted in their personnel files, and other communication breakdowns, resulted in a "tainted" dismissal process. [85 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00261-95Arbitrator Richard G. Higgins

  12. Fall River Public Schools & J. S. — August 12, 1996

    Overturned the dismissal of a teacher with more than 20 years of "exemplary service" who had pled guilty to felony tax charges arising out of his private employment. The activity was unrelated to the teacher's "ability and effectiveness to teach math in a middle school setting" and did not constitute just cause. Teacher was reinstated, but without back pay or other compensation. [11 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00192-96Arbitrator Gary D. Altman

  13. Barnstable Public Schools — August 7, 1995 & August 22, 1996

    In the first decision, the arbitrator ruled that the delivery of a dismissal notice to the teacher's guardian, while the teacher was mentally incapacitated, did not constitute delivery of notice as required by the statute. [11 pages]
    In the second decision, the arbitrator upheld the dismissal, finding that the teacher was not fit to return to work due to depression and his uncontrolled diabetes. [6 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00167-95Arbitrator James S. Cooper

  14. Whittier Regional Voc. Tech. High School & W. R. — September 9, 1996

    Overturned dismissal of a long-term teacher because the district did not provide the teacher with detailed grounds for his dismissal. The district informed the teacher that his disciplinary hearing was based upon conduct unbecoming a teacher, insubordination, failure to follow directives and school policy, and knowingly making false statements and documentation regarding students and a parent. The arbitrator ordered that the teacher be returned to his position of unauthorized leave. [22 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-2098-95Arbitrator Roberta L. Golick

  15. Plymouth Public Schools — September 19, 1996

    At the time of this award, G.L. c. 71, § 41 provided that a teacher who has served in the district for three consecutive years was entitled PTS. The arbitrator ruled that the teacher had PTS at the end of her third year, but upheld her dismissal for failing to report to work at the start of the fourth year. [33 pages]
    General Laws c. 71, § 41 has been amended to return to the pre-Education Reform Act [ERA] language requiring service for "the three previous consecutive school years."
    AAA# 11-390-0574-94Arbitrator Garry J. Wooters

  16. Fall River Public Schools & K. G. — December 10, 1996 & March 24, 1997

    In the first (interim) opinion, the arbitrator ruled he did not have jurisdiction to hear matters that occurred between 1985, when the teacher stopped teaching, and July 1994, when the superintendent dismissed the teacher for system reorganization and budgetary reasons. [11 pages]
    In the final opinion, the arbitrator determined that since the extended break in the teacher's service meant that the teacher did not have PTS in July 1994, the teacher's dismissal was not arbitrable under the ERA. [12 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-1593-94Arbitrator Garry J. Wooters

  17. Marblehead Public Schools — April 2, 1997

    Upheld the dismissal of an elementary teacher who had taught in the district for 25 years. The teacher engaged in angry outbursts and confrontational behaviors that intimidated and coerced students. The arbitrator found the testimony of the eight student witnesses, their parents and the principal more credible than the teacher. The teacher had received two letters of reprimand and a ten-day suspension in a 17-month period. [285 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02664-95Arbitrator Marcia L. Greenbaum

  18. Franklin School Committee — April 30, 1997

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher and ordered the district to reinstate the teacher with back pay and benefits. The arbitrator ruled that the teacher had PTS, counting her four years of service as a Chapter I teacher and her subsequent two years of service as a regular classroom teacher. The district claimed it had received many parent complaints that the teacher made her students feel anxious and distressed and the teacher was unable to convey warmth or encouragement. However, the arbitrator found that the district had not observed or documented these allegations and the teacher was not given proper notice of the complaints or an opportunity to answer the charges or to correct alleged problems. The teacher had received high ratings in her evaluations during her two years of regular classroom teaching. [69 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00615-94Arbitrator Garry J. Wooters

  19. Southeastern Regional School District & D. B. — May 2, 1997

    Overturned dismissal, in part because the district's letter of intent to dismiss was inadequate. The arbitrator agreed with the district that the physical education teacher engaged in unbecoming conduct. The teacher used inappropriate language with a student, grabbed the student when there was no safety risk, and left his class unattended. However, the termination was excessive, in light of the teacher's 29 years of service with an "overall apparently very good record." There was just cause for a lengthy suspension (approximately half the school year). The district was ordered to reinstate the teacher and the teacher was required to attend a program on student discipline, paid for by the district. [57 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01146-96Arbitrator Joan G. Dolan

  20. Cambridge Public Schools & P.S. — June 21, 1997

    Overturned the discharge of a teacher of special education students who had allegedly hit a student. The teacher, who had taught in the district for 25 years and had received good evaluations, was reinstated with back pay and all benefits. The arbitrator found the teacher and her long term aide more credible than the alleged victim and his friend. [17 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00189-96Arbitrator Lawrence T. Holden

  21. Whittier Regional Vocational Technical School & R. G. — July 28, 1997

    Overturned teacher dismissal. Arbitrator determined that the notice to dismiss did not contain sufficient detail about the teacher's prior conduct to enable him to respond to all charges. On the merits, the arbitrator ruled that the teacher's violation of safety procedures was not so egregious as to warrant dismissal. The district had not used progressive discipline. The teacher was awarded back pay and benefits, except for a two-week period to be treated as a suspension without pay. [45 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01080-96Arbitrator Tim Bornstein

  22. Boston Public Schools & F. B.*3 — August 8, 1997

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher of students with special needs for allegedly sexually abusing three fourth grade girls. The arbitrator found the teacher, who had taught in the district for 23 years, more credible than the students. The arbitrator said that the Department of Social Services' decision to support a 51A-child abuse report filed against the teacher did not satisfy the procedural or substantive dimensions of the just cause standard. The district was ordered to reinstate the teacher with back pay and lost benefits. [46 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-2060-96Arbitrator Gary D. Altman

  23. Beverly Public Schools* — August 8, 1997

    Overturned dismissal of a sixth grade teacher for inappropriate use of physical force (e.g., pushing) and yelling at students in three incidents within a week. The arbitrator found the students' testimony of these events credible. However, he ruled that dismissal was too severe a penalty because the teacher had an excellent record with no prior disciplinary problems for 20 years. The district was ordered to reinstate the teacher, but with no back pay or benefits for the eight-month period since his dismissal. [18 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02394-96Arbitrator Mark M. Grossman

  24. Somerset School Committee — August 13, 1997

    Upheld dismissal of a male teacher who made sexual comments to a 16-year-old female student. The teacher had a history of complaints against him for similar inappropriate conduct and had received a prior written reprimand. [8 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00566-94Arbitrator Mark M. Grossman

  25. Tri-Country Regional School District — December 24, 1997

    Overturned dismissal and reprimand of a vocational teacher for inadequate supervision of students and a negative attitude. The arbitrator determined that the superintendent did not have just cause to reprimand the teacher for refusing to answer questions in a meeting without the teacher's attorney or to reprimand the teacher for conditions that allegedly led to a fire. The district was ordered to reinstate the teacher with full back pay, seniority and benefits and to remove letters of reprimand from the teacher's personnel file. [30 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02556-96Arbitrator Richard G. Higgins

  26. Falmouth Public Schools — January 21, 1998

    The director of human resources was not a supervisor under the ERA and not protected by section 41. The arbitrator found that a supervisor under the ERA is a person with authority over educators or the educational process, relying, in part, on G.L. c. 71, § 38G and the Department's certification regulations. The director did not have educational supervisory authority entitling him to arbitration under section 41. In addition, given the director's job duties and functions, he could not seek arbitration as a teacher with PTS. [11 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01300-97Arbitrator Diane Zaar Cochran

  27. Boston School Department & R. J. — March 28, 1998

    Overturned dismissal for unsatisfactory performance by a teacher of special needs students. The district was ordered to reinstate the teacher, but the teacher was not entitled to receive three and a half years' back pay or benefits. The district argued that the teacher provided insufficient structure and rules and did not individualize instruction. The arbitrator determined that the district's rules of conduct were related to an educational purpose, the teacher had received sufficient notice that her continued inadequate performance could result in dismissal and the teacher failed to satisfy teacher performance standards. However, the arbitrator found the dismissal unreasonable because "behaviorally disturbed children" were improperly placed in the teacher's classroom. He also found that the district acted unfairly because the principal said the teacher's discipline would be based solely on observations during one academic year, but the district used prior evaluations and other staff members' observations to support the dismissal. [80 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02542-95Arbitrator Craig E. Overton

  28. West Springfield School Committee — May 27, 1998

    Upheld dismissal of industrial arts teacher, taking into consideration the best interests of the pupils and the elevation of performance standards. The arbitrator determined that the teacher, who had taught in the district for 30 years, failed to satisfy teacher performance standards and demonstrated his incompetence or incapacity to serve as an educator. [32 pages]
    AAA# 11-3900-00115-97Arbitrator Michael C. Ryan

  29. City of Worcester [Vocational High School] & A. N — June 29, 1998

    Overturned dismissal for sexual harassment by a guidance counselor who had served the district for 16 years. The counselor admitted that while he was chaperoning a conference he drank a beer, touched a high school female student's ankle, and kissed her cheek. He was acknowledged to be demonstrative and explained his behavior as common in his cultural heritage. The arbitrator ordered that the counselor be reinstated, but with no back pay for his 11-month termination. [42 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01862-97Arbitrator Richard G. Higgins

  30. Amesbury Public Schools — August 21, 1998

    Upheld the dismissal of a middle school social studies teacher for inefficient classroom management and a pattern of unprofessional and insubordinate behavior. The teacher had no negative evaluations for the first eight of her ten years of teaching in the district. The district had used progressive discipline. [20 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01821-97Arbitrator Timothy Buckalew

  31. Lynn Public Schools & W. S. — August 23, 1998

    Overturned a dismissal for conduct unbecoming a teacher and ordered the district to retroactively reinstate the teacher with full back pay and benefits, less the salary for a one-week suspension. The teacher had allegedly used racially discriminatory remarks and profane language while arguing with a district attendance officer. The arbitrator determined that the superintendent had failed to follow appropriate procedures when he dismissed the teacher. The teacher had an exemplary eight-year record and the district's method of discipline was not related to the severity of the teacher's alleged harassment. [24 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00011-98Arbitrator Mark L. Irvings

  32. Worcester Public Schools & R. L. — September 2, 1998

    Upheld the dismissal of a teacher for inefficiency, incompetence and failure to meet performance standards. The dismissed teacher had taught in the district for 22 years and taught middle school students with special needs for the last eight years. The arbitrator credited the testimony of three administrators who observed and documented serious problems with the teacher's performance over a two and one half-year period. These problems included: (1) poor lesson planning and implementation; (2) lack of variety in teaching technique; (3) failure to keep students on task; (4) failure to meet students' individual needs; (5) failure to maintain proper classroom climate and discipline; and (6) using "fillers," such as computer games, to occupy classroom time. [71 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-1892-97Arbitrator Garry J. Wooters

  33. Brookline Public Schools &W.U. — October 31, 1998

    Overturned teacher's dismissal and ordered reinstatement accompanied by a harsh written warning and a one-week suspension without pay. The district did not have just cause for dismissal for conduct unbecoming a teacher. Although the teacher's touching of five students was improper, his intentions were innocent. The teacher had served the district for twenty-nine years and had an impeccable record. The dismissal was not in the best interests of the students, and was disproportionate to the unbecoming conduct established by the record. [21 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01256-97Arbitrator David R. Bloodsworth

  34. Worcester Public Schools & V.K. — November 3, 1998

    Upheld teacher's dismissal for insubordination. The district terminated a teacher for calling in sick at the start of the school year in late August in order to attend an athletic event in Australia. G.L. c. 71, '41 does not require a teacher to begin his or her fourth year of teaching in order to receive Professional Teacher Status. The teacher, who had completed three consecutive years of teaching, had acquired PTS and could be dismissed only for just cause. Falsifying sick leave constituted insubordination, which was just cause for dismissal under G.L. c. 71. '42. [26 pages]
    AAA# 11-309-00208-98Arbitrator Richard G. Higgins

  35. Boston Public Schools & J.R. — June 29, 1999

    Arbitrator ruled that suspension decision was not arbitrable, pursuant to G.L. c. 71, §42D, as no petition for arbitration was filed with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education within 30 days of notice of the suspension, but dismissal was arbitrable as a timely § 41 petition was filed. The arbitrator ruled that an educator who is dismissed due to operation of a law other than c. 71, §§ 41 and 42 (in this case, G.L. c. 279, §30, providing for dismissal of public employees convicted of certain felonies) is still entitled to the arbitration rights of those sections. Arbitrator also found that where a petitioner requests to reopen an arbitration within one year of the date it was administratively closed by the AAA, such request is timely. [12 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01338-95Arbitrator Sarah Kerr Garraty

  36. Blue Hills Regional Technical School & H.T. — September 10, 1999

    Dismissal of a teacher, based on inappropriate, unprofessional and unbecoming conduct, was upheld by the arbitrator. The incidents that prompted the dismissal of the teacher stemmed from inappropriate sexual comments and gestures made to students. Further, the teacher allegedly inappropriately touched a student on at least one occasion and had a prior ten-day suspension without pay in June 1995 for his involvement in ethnic, racial and sexual harassment. Arbitrator determined that the standard for review established in the statute is the traditional arbitral standard of "just cause" and concluded that there was just cause to terminate the teacher after balancing the credibility of the witnesses and concluding that the misconduct did occur. [26 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01947-98Arbitrator Roberta Golick

  37. Boston Public Schools & R.P. — October 3, 2000

    Upheld dismissal of a guidance advisor based on allegations of incompetence. Guidance advisor lost his position at one district school due to reorganization and exercised contractual right to transfer to another school. The responsibilities of guidance advisors differed significantly between the two schools. Arbitrator rejected guidance advisor's argument that evaluation procedures were unfair as applied to him because: 1) he was unfamiliar with his new responsibilities; 2) the administration was biased against him because he transferred into the school outside an interview/selection process; and 3) he did not have sufficient opportunity to prove and improve his skills due to a four-month leave of absence. Dismissal was upheld, although due to district's unwillingness to produce many student records (due to student privacy concerns), the arbitrator found that the district did not prove records-based charges. [77 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-1571-98Arbitrator Joan G. Dolan

  38. Southbridge Public Schools & P. G. — January 11, 2001

    Overturned teacher's dismissal and ordered her reinstatement and back pay. The arbitrator determined there was no just cause for dismissal, finding that the school district did not give clear notice that the teacher's conduct (frequent unauthorized visits to the school nurse's office) was prohibited. In addition, the district failed to provide the teacher with a fair opportunity to correct her behavior before imposing serious discipline, and did not enforce the rule consistently. The arbitrator further found that the district failed to prove the teacher had verbally attacked a school committee member or that she engaged in inappropriate physical conduct with a student. [84 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00288-99Arbitrator Michael C. Ryan

  39. Lawrence Public Schools & R. H. — March 9, 2001

    In a bifurcated hearing, the arbitrator determined, as a preliminary matter, that teacher had not attained "professional teacher status" under c.71, §41, and therefore had no right to challenge his dismissal under §42. Teacher worked for the school district for 3 ½ years but was not certified in Massachusetts his first year. The arbitrator held that this year could not count toward his professional teacher status, citing case law under the previous "tenure" statute. In addition, teacher's final year of service did not count because he taught only through February and then was placed on involuntary paid administrative leave for the rest of the year. Relying on case law under the previous statute, the arbitrator ruled that a teacher who is on administrative leave for part of the school year, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, is not actively serving the school district for that school year, and may not count that year toward PTS. [20 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00820-97Arbitrator Sarah Kerr

  40. Everett Public Schools & D. D. — September 4, 2001

    The arbitrator found that the teacher had not been constructively dismissed from her position, and was therefore not entitled to statutory arbitration. The teacher was suspended with pay from her position as a reading teacher based on her failure to provide any services to many of the classes to which she was assigned. Months later, after being placed on unpaid leave, the teacher agreed to submit to a psychological evaluation to establish her fitness to return to work, but ultimately refused to participate in the exam. The arbitrator found that as the school remains willing to restore the teacher to her position, with full wages, benefits, and seniority as soon as the teacher establishes that she is fit to return to work, the school has not discharged the teacher. The arbitrator also noted that the teacher missed her opportunity to arbitrate the suspension by failing to file a timely request for arbitration pursuant to c. 71, § 42D. [12 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00364-01Arbitrator Nancy E. Peace

  41. Attleboro Public Schools — November 26, 2001

    Upheld non-renewal of teacher's contract. The Arbitrator determined as a preliminary matter that the teacher did not have professional teacher status (PTS) and was not entitled to statutory arbitration because she taught under a Massachusetts certificate for only two consecutive school years. The Arbitrator rejected the teacher's argument that her service in the district as a long-term substitute in the 1996-97 school year should count toward attainment of PTS. The teacher had a valid out of state certificate for the position but at the start of the year, she had no Massachusetts certificate. Halfway through the year, she received a Massachusetts certificate, but not one appropriate for the position in which she was employed. The Arbitrator agreed with the district's argument that only the years of service while in the possession of a valid Massachusetts certification, appropriate to the position being filled, can count toward PTS. [13 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00118-01Arbitrator Diane Zaar Cochran

  42. E.B. & South Shore Regional District Committee — July 26, 2002

    Arbitrator held regional school district wrongfully dismissed teacher who took unprocessed food from the school Culinary Arts restaurant for personal use without school official's prior permission. Arbitrator found that school did not prove that conduct of teacher and his two colleagues, who also admitted taking food and were given written reprimands, was unbecoming of a teacher or constituted any other just cause for termination. Arbitrator found teachers' conduct was not inherently wrongful based on past practices, and was not in violation of any express or implied district policies or state law. Arbitrator ordered reinstatement of dismissed teacher with back pay minus earnings in excess of his usual part-time restaurant work, removal of termination notice from dismissed teacher's personnel file, and removal of written misconduct warnings from personnel files of the other two teachers. [32 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01712-1Arbitrator Richard G. Boulanger

  43. East Bridgwater Public Schools — May 24, 2002

    The teacher was accused of having third grade, female students sit on his lap and placing his hand so that it was resting directly upon the girls' "private areas," or so close as to cause the girls reasonably to believe that he was touching their private areas. Applying an analytical framework based on School District of Beverly v. Geller, (435 Mass. 223 (2001)) the arbitrator stated that once an arbitrator finds that the school district has proven one of the six listed grounds for dismissal, and has proven that the misconduct was serious rather than only minor in nature, then the arbitrator must uphold the termination decision, unless the arbitrator makes specific and detailed finding that the 'best interests of the pupils in the district and the need for elevation of performance standards' warrant the retention of the teacher notwithstanding the serious misconduct which has occurred.

    In this case, the arbitrator first found that the school district had proven that the teacher repeatedly and recklessly engaged in conduct unbecoming a teacher by having the students sit on his lap, even after being told that such conduct was inappropriate. The arbitrator then considered whether "the best interests of the pupils in the district and the need for elevation of performance standards" would warrant [the teacher's] reinstatement, notwithstanding [the teacher's] conduct." The arbitrator observed that while the teacher had achieved "impressive results" in the classroom, these results were outweighed by the teacher's reckless behavior in having students sit on his lap even after being warned and for "repeatedly placing his hands so that the girls reasonably perceived that he was touching their private areas." According to the arbitrator, this behavior caused serious emotional harm to the girls, and the school district was entitled to take a "zero tolerance approach" to such behavior. Therefore, the arbitrator upheld the school district's right to terminate the employment of the teacher. [31 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02251-01Arbitrator Philip Dunn

  44. Salem Public Schools & E.H. — June 28, 2002

    The arbitrator ruled that a grievance was arbitrable; therefore, by agreement of the parties, a school district was required to reinstate a teacher with back pay and benefits. The teacher was hired during the summer of 1997. On June 13, 2000, the school district notified the teacher that the school district would not employ him for the 2000-2001 school year. In August of 2000, the school district offered the teacher a one-year position, as an in-school suspension counselor. The teacher accepted the offer and signed a document, which included the teacher's express waiver of the right to have the one-year position count toward his professional teacher status. The arbitrator ruled "under these circumstances," a "waiver cannot be permitted to stand." The arbitrator found that such a waiver, when considered in light of the inequality in bargaining power between a teacher and a school system, would defeat the purpose of G.L. c. 71, § 41. (5 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-00502-01Arbitrator James S. Cooper

  45. Worcester Public Schools & L.C. — September 13, 2002

    Ordered reinstatement (without back pay) for a teacher who had been dismissed for conduct toward a student which the district alleged constituted sexual harassment, conduct unbecoming a teacher and inappropriate conduct. The teacher admitted, and the arbitrator found, that the teacher had touched a student on the leg and shoulder. The arbitrator did not credit the allegations that the teacher stalked the student, stared at her inappropriately, rubbed her thigh or told her that he loved her. In light of these factual findings, the arbitrator found that the teacher's conduct was wrong, but was not serious misconduct that warranted dismissal under the provisions of G.L. c. 71, § 42, and under the SJC's reasoning in Beverly v. Geller 435 Mass. 223 (2001). The arbitrator also found that the reinstatement of the teacher would be consistent with the best interests of the students, based on his past performance evaluations and disagreements among district administrative personnel as to the decision to fire the teacher. Teacher's disciplinary history for inappropriate contact with students was cited as reason why suspension, rather than written reprimand, was appropriate discipline. [43 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-1790-01Arbitrator Gary D. Altman

  46. Norton Public Schools & D.A. — December 20, 2003

    There is an additional arbitration decision in the following case. Please see Arbitration No. 68 for further details.

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher, based on: inappropriate interactions with parents, staff and administrators; failure to prepare for the opening of school, to report for the opening of school, or to give adequate notice of her absence. Arbitrator cited Beverly v. Geller, finding that, "if the Arbitrator determines that the school district has proven one of the six listed [in M.G.L. c. 71, § 42] grounds for dismissal, and the misconduct was serious rather than minor in nature, the Arbitrator must uphold the termination decision." The teacher did not appear at the hearing or file a brief after the Superior Court denied a motion to stay the arbitration and the arbitrator denied a request to stay the arbitration or to certify a question of issue preclusion to the court. [35 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-00006-03Arbitrator Nancy E. Peace
    [Note: This arbitration decision was vacated by a Superior Court judge in Allenson v. DeMoura, which is summarized under Judicial Decisions, below.]

  47. Boston Public Schools & J.C. — February 1, 2004

    Upheld dismissal of teacher with professional teacher status. Teacher was dismissed for "inefficiency, incapacity, incompetency, and [ ] failure to satisfy teaching performance standards." Arbitrator found that the school district had established just cause, based on 5 performance evaluations in a 12-month period, and that the teacher had not made attempts to implement suggested improvements. Arbitrator concluded that the retention of the teacher "would have been detrimental to the best interests of the students … and inconsistent with the need to elevate performance standards …" [39 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01761-02Arbitrator Michael C. Ryan

  48. Worcester Public Schools — July 21, 2004

    Upheld the dismissal of a science teacher for failure to apply his knowledge of science to the curriculum, failure to impose standards of behavior to effectively manage the classroom environment, and failure to clearly communicate instructions and expectations to students. Over a period of two years the school's principal, the teacher's mentor, and two separate resource teams offered and provided the teacher with support and instruction. Despite these measures the teacher continued to use ineffective teaching methods and to neglect classroom discipline. Although the teacher conducted himself with integrity, fulfilled his professional obligations, and prepared extensively for his classes, four different evaluators consistently noted the same deficiencies in his classroom instruction, and he never took advantage of proffered staff development courses. [26 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01520-03Arbitrator Mark L. Irvings

  49. E.H. & Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational/Technical School District- August 26, 2004

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher/coach for conduct unbecoming a teacher, based on allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with a student almost 20 years earlier. The teacher had taught and coached at a private school from 1978-1997. From 1997-2002, he served as teacher, department head and coach at Shawsheen. His service at Shawsheen was described as exemplary. In 2002, a former student from his previous school alleged that the teacher began a sexual relationship with her after her sophomore year in 1983, while he was her teacher and coach. The arbitrator heard from 9 witnesses over 6 days and determined that the former student's version of events was more credible than the teacher's assertion that the sexual relationship began only after the student's senior year. [39 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-03036-02Arbitrator Paul Dorr

  50. J.R.. & Greater Lowell Technical High School — September 2, 2005

    Arbitrator held that a school lacked just cause to dismiss a guidance counselor. The guidance counselor called in sick at end of school year, on advice of treating psychiatrist and therapist, based on the guidance counselor's anxiety and depression due to what she perceived as a hostile environment at work. The guidance counselor continued to work a second job outside of school hours. School sought to dismiss guidance counselor for abuse of sick leave and lack of candor. The arbitrator found that continuing to work a second job did not mean that guidance counselor had been able to work at the school. The arbitrator also found that the guidance counselor's failure to inform superintendent of an additional day she worked at the second job did not constitute a lack of honesty that would constitute just cause for a dismissal. (17 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-00112-05Arbitrator Gary Altman

  51. D.W. & Greater Lowell Technical High School -II — November 15, 2005

    Arbitrator held that a school lacked just cause to dismiss a teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher, where school had already suspended the teacher for the conduct. After the school suspended the teacher for 4 days, the teacher filed for arbitration under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and the matter was heard by an AAA# arbitrator. The school also ordered the teacher to undergo a psychiatric fitness for duty (FFD) evaluation. After the FFD was completed, but before the arbitration decision on the suspension was issued, the school dismissed the teacher. This arbitration arose from the dismissal. Approximately one month after the dismissal, the contractual arbitrator reduced the suspension to one day. (See summary under suspension- D.W. & Greater Lowell Technical High School I) In ruling on the dismissal, the statutory arbitrator found that the school could not base a dismissal on actions for which the school had already disciplined the teacher. The statutory arbitrator also found that while the school was within its rights to require an FFD evaluation, the results of this evaluation did not support a dismissal. (28 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-00111-05Arbitrator Garry J. Wooters
    [Also see related dismissal summary, D.W. and Greater Lowell Technical School I, below]

    D.W. and Greater Lowell Technical School (I) — January 18, 2005
    [Note- this is not a M.G.L. c. 71 arbitration]

    In this arbitration brought under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, the arbitrator reduced a 4-day suspension to 1 day. The school suspended the teacher for sexually harassing students and engaging in unprofessional conduct toward a parent. The arbitrator found that the teacher did not sexually harass the students, but was merely enforcing the school's dress code. The arbitrator found that the teacher's communication with a parent arising out of the dress code incident was unprofessional and inappropriate and merited a one-day suspension. (Also see related dismissal summary, D.W. and Greater Lowell Technical School II, which relies on this contractual arbitration decision). (21 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01575-04Richard Boulanger, Arbitrator

  52. Ware Public Schools & R.D. — June 19, 2006

    Arbitrator overturned dismissal of a teacher. The arbitrator held that the school lacked just cause to dismiss a teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher, where school failed to prove allegations that the teacher stole supplies and food purchased for a public preschool program. The arbitrator relied heavily on a finding that the school did not have an effective inventory control system and none of the allegedly misappropriated items were ever found within the grievant's possession. The teacher had an 18-year clean record as a teacher. (23 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01510-05Arbitrator Charles T. Schmidt, Jr.

  53. Boston Public Schools and S.B. — December 1, 2006

    Upheld dismissal of teacher based on failure to meet performance standards in classroom management, effective teaching, assessment, record-keeping, and communication with parents. The series of negative performance evaluations took place over the course of one school year. The arbitrator found that the employer had produced sufficient evident that the "performance evaluations were based on factual observations and the professional judgment of the Headmaster, and three such evaluations measured teacher standards rationally connected to the best interests of pupils in the district and the need for the elevation of performance standards," and therefore the grievance must be denied. The arbitrator rejected the union's arguments of procedural violations in the evaluation process and personal or anti-union animus on the part of the evaluating supervisor. [32 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02070-05Arbitrator Timothy Buckalew, Esq.

  54. Dracut Public Schools and S.A. — December 14, 2006

    Overturned dismissal of teacher. The district fired a teacher for "inappropriately touching" a kindergarten student — allegedly grabbing him by the hand or arm and hurting him. The arbitrator found that the employer had failed to follow the requirements of M.G.L. ch. 71, § 42, by failing to provide exculpatory documents to the teacher (memoranda from the principal to the superintendent detailing witness statements.) The arbitrator also found that the facts did not support a determination that the teacher had "inappropriately handled" or hurt the student, but rather that the teacher had appropriately touched the non-compliant student to get him off the floor and out of the classroom. In this case, where the superintendent made the determination to dismiss the teacher, the arbitrator found that the superintendent's failure to interview the student or his mother indicated a failure to conduct a "careful investigation." [16 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02515-05Arbitrator James Litton

  55. Plympton School District — January 2, 2007

    Upheld dismissal of a physical education teacher based on allegations that the teacher yelled at a first grade student and grabbed a tool from the student. The student had behavior problems and his classroom teacher had advised the physical education teacher how best to deal with the student's behavior. The physical education teacher expressed reluctance to treat the student differently than his classmates. During the preceding school year, the teacher had received both a reprimand and a 5-day suspension for using inappropriate language with students and intimidating students. The arbitrator found that given the teacher's prior record of discipline, the district had just cause to discharge. (10 pages)
    AAA# 1139-0139-06Arbitrator Michael W. Stutz

  56. Wilmington Public Schools — May 10, 2007

    Upheld dismissal of a special education teacher based on allegations that the teacher altered a student's MCAS responses. (30 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01526-05Arbitrator Garry J. Wooters

  57. Whitman-Hanson Regional School District — September 14, 2007

    Upheld dismissal of a veteran teacher based on allegations that the teacher: failed to implement the school's math curriculum as directed; gave students answers to tests after being instructed not to do so; and fabricated a story about lesson plans and grade books being stolen. The arbitrator determined that the teacher was not credible and that, despite his popularity with students and his many years of service, his actions constituted serious misconduct supporting the district's action in dismissing him. (15 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-02308-06Arbitrator Mark M. Grossman

  58. Methuen Public Schools — April 18, 2008

    Upheld dismissal of a high school science teacher with PTS for insubordination, conduct unbecoming a teacher, extreme disruption of the efficiency and effectiveness of the education process at Methuen High School, and other just cause. The teacher was involved in a lawsuit against his union president and a custody dispute with another faculty member at the school. The teacher had received written warnings, a suspension and a "last chance" agreement in the past for his behavior, in particular, discussing divisive personal matters with students and faculty. After the teacher received an anonymous note in his school mailbox, he sent an e-mail message to 25 colleagues naming 6 possible "suspects" from the school faculty and administration. The school dismissed the teacher after determining that his behavior was creating an unacceptable environment at the school. (29 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01405-07Arbitrator Gary D. Altman

  59. Boston Public Schools & P.O. — April 25, 2008

    Upheld the dismissal of a high school special education teacher with PTS for failure to meet performance standards. The high school headmaster conducted 2 interim and one year-end evaluation during the 2004-05 school year, in which he determined that the teacher's performance failed to meet standards. These evaluations also contained prescriptions for improving the teacher's performance, offers of teacher coaching help, and suggested professional development activities. After another interim evaluation early in the 2005-06 school year, the teacher was dismissed. The arbitrator described the teacher's past as a "successful SPED teacher during the era of low expectations for SPED students." But the arbitrator noted "overriding concern that [the teacher] stubbornly adhered to her view that her students were simply not capable of performing challenging work of the sort that regular education students would be expected to perform at the high school level." (52 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01973-06Arbitrator Philip Dunn

  60. Boston Public Schools and M.S. — April 28, 2009

    Upheld dismissal of 19-year veteran teacher based on conduct unbecoming a teacher. The special education teacher left a 7-year-old disabled student in wet pants for over an hour, after the student had urinated on herself. The arbitrator credited the testimony of a substitute paraprofessional who was in the class that day and testified that the special education teacher stated that he would leave the student in the wet pants to "teach her a lesson." The teacher had one prior 5-day suspension for sexual harassment of faculty members and a parent. [18 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-1974-06Arbitrator Michael W. Stutz

  61. Boston Public Schools and J. F. — May 12, 2009

    Overturned dismissal of teacher and ordered reinstatement with back pay. The veteran teacher (30 years of teaching experience, including 7 at the school from which he was fired) was discharged for allegedly making "several attempts to access sexually themed websites during the school day." The teacher had previously been reprimanded for allowing an inappropriate picture accessed from the Internet to remain on a projector in his classroom, and had been given a directive to ensure only appropriate information from the Internet was displayed in his classroom. The district determined that the teacher had accessed inappropriate "adult content" websites from his classroom computer. The arbitrator found that the district did not prove that the teacher intentionally tried to access adult websites during class, and therefore lacked probable cause to dismiss the teacher. The arbitrator also found that the teacher's outburst and allegedly threatening behavior after he was fired were not sufficient grounds to preclude his reinstatement. (21 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01437-08Arbitrator Michael Stutz

  62. Assabet Valley Regional Vocational School District and F.G. — June 25, 2009

    Upheld dismissal of a vocational teacher based on teacher leaving work without notifying supervisor, and then lying to his supervisor to cover up his actions. The teacher had previously been disciplined for undocumented absences. The arbitrator also rejected the teacher's argument that the school's actions in having the teacher immediately removed from the school payroll after delivering the notice of intent to dismiss denied the teacher his statutory rights to meet with the superintendent and to have the superintendent "review and approve" the dismissal. The arbitrator found that the dismissal procedure met statutory requirements. (24 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-00931-08Arbitrator Timothy J. Buckalew

  63. Springfield Public Schools and S.A. — June 30, 2009

    Upheld dismissal of teacher. The veteran [30 year] teacher served as an evaluation team leader. The school district fired the teacher after determining that the teacher had altered entries in the district's IEP software, resulting in 24 special education students failing to receive required three-year reevaluations. The arbitrator rejected the teacher's argument that the computer entries were inadvertent errors attributable to his lack of computer literacy. The arbitrator also rejected the teacher's argument that the district had failed to comply with M.G.L. ch. 71, § 42, because the teacher had met to review the termination decision with one superintendent but the final dismissal letter was sent by the successor superintendent, approximately two months after the meeting. (29 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01703-08Arbitrator Tim Bornstein

  64. Gloucester Public Schools and K.P. — August 31, 2009

    Upheld dismissal of a special education teacher. The school district dismissed the teacher based on: inappropriate conversations with students; disrespectful and intimidating conduct toward staff; performance inadequacies; and, uncooperative and rude behavior in a meeting with the superintendent .The arbitrator found that the teacher had engaged in conduct unbecoming a teacher and upheld the dismissal. [60 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01904-07Arbitrator Richard Boulanger

  65. Arlington Public Schools and C.C.(First Arbitration) — October 27, 2009

    Overturned teacher dismissal and ordered reinstatement with backpay and all references to dismissal expunged from record. The teacher was dismissed for alleged conduct unbecoming a teacher and other just cause based on violating district computer policies. Following an anonymous tip, the district accessed e-mails from the teacher's school e-mail account and found correspondence with the school principal that was romantic/sexual in nature. The investigation also uncovered e-mails written by the teacher that altered and/or forged e-mails from the district superintendent. The arbitrator concluded that based on the district's policy regarding complaints against school personnel, all anonymous tips should be disregarded. Since there were no other adequate grounds on which an investigation could be based, the investigation was improper. The arbitrator would not find a just cause dismissal based on a violation of district policy when the investigation to uncover that violation also contravened district policy. [62 pages]

    [Note: This arbitration decision was vacated by the Superior Court in Arlington Public Schools v. Coughlin, which is summarized under Judicial Decisions, below.]
    AAA# 11-390-01903-07Arbitrator: Richard G. Boulanger

  66. Boston Public Schools and T.U. — December 9, 2009

    Overturned dismissal of teacher and ordered reinstatement with back pay. The teacher got into a verbal dispute with her principal on the first day of school. After the dispute, on the advice of her psychiatrist, the teacher went a hospital emergency room. Hospital staff notified Boston Police that the teacher had made threatening statements about the principal to a doctor in the emergency room. The police notified the principal of the threats and the principal obtained a restraining order preventing the teacher from coming within 100 yards of the school. The district dismissed the teacher, citing incapacity (based on the restraining order) and conduct unbecoming a teacher (for the verbal dispute). The arbitrator found that the teacher never intended any physical harm to the principal, and that the school district could have requested a full fitness for duty exam, and should have placed the teacher in a different school as soon as it realized the teacher was not a threat to anyone. The arbitrator found that the teacher was not incapacitated from working as a teacher, and that the teacher's role in the verbal dispute did not justify termination. [32 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01449-08Arbitrator James S. Cooper

  67. Springfield Public Schools and K.D. — January 28, 2010

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher based on his use of inappropriate language with students. Another staff member overheard the teacher use derogatory language toward students and criticize an administrator in front of the students. The teacher had been warned twice in the three months preceding the incident about his use of inappropriate language with students. The arbitrator found that given the teacher's actions and his disciplinary history, the district established just cause for termination. (9 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01038-09Arbitrator Arnold M. Zack

  68. Lynn Public Schools and A.P. — March 3, 2010

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher with 12 years of experience and no disciplinary history. The school district dismissed the teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher based on videos and written comments she posted on her Facebook page, mocking students at the school at which she taught. Her Facebook page also identified the teacher's interest in guns and contained a link to a satirical article about a female mass murderer. The teacher was under the mistaken belief that she had limited access to her page to her Facebook "friends." The superintendent dismissed the teacher based on concerns that the teacher might present a threat to students and because the postings on the Facebook page were inappropriate for a teacher. The arbitrator made a ne novo review of the facts and determined that the teacher had engaged in "a stunning breach of trust" and conduct unbecoming a teacher when she created and posted videos demeaning students in the school, and concluded that termination was proper under M.G.L. ch. 71, § 42 [29 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00974-09Arbitrator Phillip Dunn

  69. Lawrence Public Schools and A.S. — June 22, 2010

    Upheld dismissal of a high school teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher. The arbitrator found that the teacher escalated a dispute with a student by engaging in an unnecessary physical confrontation over control of the classroom door and then by pushing the student away from the door. The teacher was on notice from prior discipline and annual professional development meetings that physical contact with students should be avoided unless necessary for the safety of the student or others. (20 pages)
    AAA# 11-390-01480-09Arbitrator John B. Cochran

  70. Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District and D.M. — July 22, 1010

    Overturned dismissal of teacher. The school district dismissed the teacher based on the expiration of the teacher's preliminary teaching license. The arbitrator overturned the dismissal, finding that the teacher's preliminary license had not expired because the teacher had taken two substantial medical leaves of absence while working for the district. The arbitrator first found that the teacher's dismissal was arbitrable under M.G.L. ch. 71, § 42, because her license had not expired. As the expiration of her license was sole basis for the teacher's dismissal, the arbitrator found that the district lacked just cause for the dismissal. The arbitrator faulted the teacher for not raising the issue of her medical leaves extending the validity of her license at her dismissal hearing, and for instead focusing on an unpersuasive argument that her year of teaching in a different district should not count towards the 5 years of teaching allowed under each preliminary license. Because of this initial failure to put forth the argument about the tolling of her license during medical leaves and for "creating a distraction" about her prior teaching, the arbitrator ordered the teacher reinstated, but with no back pay award. [17 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02283-09Arbitrator Mark L. Irvings

  71. Norton Public Schools & D.A. (Second arbitration) — October 11, 2010

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher. After the district dismissed the teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher, the teacher filed a discrimination complaint at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and eventually filed suit in Superior Court. A jury found that the teacher was terminated from her employment because she was perceived as a handicapped person. While the case was proceeding in superior court, the teacher also sought arbitration. In this second arbitration decision, the arbitrator held that the jury's finding that the teacher was terminated from her employment because she was perceived as a handicapped person compelled an arbitration decision that the termination was improper under G.L. c. 71, § 42. The arbitrator limited the back pay award by eliminating back pay for the almost 5 year period during which the teacher chose to withdraw from the arbitration process and seek a remedy through court. The arbitrator also directed the Teachers' Retirement Board to accept back pension benefits it paid out to the teacher and to reinstate the teacher in the Retirement Plus pension system. [27 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00006-03Arbitrator Nancy E. Peace
    [Note: This was the second arbitration decision in this case, after the initial arbitration decision was vacated by a Superior Court judge in Allenson v. DeMoura, which is summarized under Judicial Decisions, below. The initial arbitration decision, Norton Public Schools & D.A., is summarized above.]

  72. Georgetown Public Schools and S.L. — January 18, 2011

    Upheld dismissal of 13-year teacher based on conduct unbecoming a teacher in administering MCAS tests. A student in the teacher's third grade class stated that the teacher had helped him correct his answers on an MCAS test. In the course of an investigation into this allegation, a number of students reported that the teacher had pointed out incorrect answers on their answer sheets and directed the students to review those questions. Three children and two of their parents testified at the arbitration hearing. In finding that the school district met its burden of establishing that the teacher viewed the contents of the students' test booklets, signaled the students when their answers appeared wrong, and gave them opportunities to fix their answers, the arbitrator found the students' testimony to be credible, and found that the superintendent conducted a fair investigation. [34 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00196-10Arbitrator Sarah Kerr Garraty

  73. Arlington Public Schools and C.C. (Second Arbitration) — March 23, 2011

    Upheld dismissal of a high school teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher and other just cause. The teacher violated computer policies he knew about or should have known about by sending romantic/sexual e-mails from his public school e-mail account to his supervising principal. He also altered and/or forged e-mails from the district superintendent. The arbitrator found this was a violation of district computer policy and was conduct unbecoming a teacher. It was not in the best interests of students to retain teacher because, as technology teacher, ethical e-mail practice was precisely the behavior he should model. Teacher's defense of consensual relations was irrelevant since he was not discharged for sexual harassment. [27 pages]

    [Note: This was the second arbitration decision in this case, after the initial arbitration decision was vacated by a Superior Court judge in Arlington Public Schools v. Coughlin, which is summarized under Judicial Decisions, below. The initial arbitration decision, Arlington Public Schools and C.C., is summarized above at Arbitration No. 64]
    AAA# 11-390-784-10Arbitrator: Roberta Golick

  74. Fall River Public Schools and L.S. — September 19, 2011

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher for incompetence, conduct unbecoming a teacher, and incapacity. The arbitrator found that: while the teacher was capable of teaching, the school district proved that the teacher was incapable of "controlling the disciplinary and educationally conducive atmosphere of her classroom"; the teacher engaged in conduct unbecoming a teacher (but not physical abuse) when she grabbed a student by the collar, a finding that provided additional support for the termination; and it was not in the best interests of 5th grade students to have a teacher who falls asleep in class (even if due to a medical condition that the district had previously accommodated). [11 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02252-09Arbitrator James S. Cooper
    Lwall/docs.arbitration.Summaries.FallRiver.LS

  75. Beverly Public Schools and C.A. — September 21, 2011

    Upheld dismissal of an elementary school nurse for incompetence and failure to meet performance standards. The Arbitrator found the nurse's "performance to have been incompetent [providing a student with the wrong medicine; failing to provide student allergy information to teachers; failing to conduct and record student height, weight, vision and hearing checks], and considering that her errors and omissions endangered student welfare, the statute [G.L. c. 71, § 42] effectively requires her termination." (22 pages)
    AAA# 1139-2284-09Arbitrator Michael Stutz
    Lwall/docs.arbitration.Summaries.Beverly-CA

  76. Boston Public Schools and O.P. — February 16, 2012

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher. The school district dismissed the teacher based on failure to meet performance standards. The arbitrator found that the district conducted four interim evaluations over two school years fairly, consistently, and in good faith, and that there were ample, reasonable, objective, non-discriminatory bases for the three evaluators' judgment that the teacher was continuing to fail to meet core performance standards. [37 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01495-10Arbitrator Philip Dunn

  77. Lawrence Public Schools and V.R. — March 9, 2012

    Upheld dismissal of a special education teacher. The special education teacher was discharged for conduct unbecoming a teacher and child abandonment, after leaving a second grade student with autism alone in a classroom while she accompanied two other students to the bathroom. The arbitrator found that in choosing to address the urgent needs of one student, the teacher violated a school policy prohibiting leaving a student alone and failed to avail herself of resources available within the school to a teacher facing similar circumstances. [27 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-0632-11Arbitrator Parker Denaco

  78. Weymouth Public Schools and P.O. — April 30, 2012

    Overturned dismissal of a kindergarten teacher. The kindergarten teacher was discharged for insubordination and conduct unbecoming a teacher, after sending two kindergarten students to an empty classroom to retrieve a piece of equipment. The teacher had just received a 1½ day suspension for leaving a student alone in a bathroom while the teacher took the rest of the class on a nature walk. [See summary under suspensions]. The arbitrator rejected the district's arguments that: (1) school policy clearly prohibited the use of the "buddy-system" in sending students to an empty classroom; and (2) the teacher's actions in allowing students to be without adult supervision immediately after receiving a suspension for leaving a student alone constituted insubordination. The arbitrator ordered the teacher reinstated effective May 7, 2012, but allowed her to be assigned tasks other than classroom teaching for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year. [22 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00127-12Arbitrator James S. Cooper

  79. Springfield Public Schools and C.G. — June 26, 2012

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher based on his actions in denying a sixth grade student's request to use the bathroom and leaving the student alone in a classroom at the end of the day. The PTS teacher transferred to a new school after the start of the school year. Within the teacher's first three months of employment at the school, the principal met with him twice in response to student complaints about his treatment of students. The teacher had a classroom policy of not allowing students to use the bathroom during the last class of the day. He denied the student's request to use the bathroom and gave the student a time-out for repeating her request. When the teacher and the rest of the students left the class at the end of the day, he instructed the sixth-grade student to remain. Left alone in the classroom, the student urinated on herself. The arbitrator found that given the teacher's actions and his disciplinary history, the district established just cause for termination. [25 pages]
    AAA# 1139-1437-11Arbitrator Susan R. Brown

  80. Springfield Public Schools & E.M. — August 1, 2012

    Arbitrator overturned the dismissal of a fourth-grade teacher who was terminated for allegedly assisting students on the MCAS Long Composition. The arbitrator found that the district had not produced evidence sufficient to establish that the teacher improperly assisted two students during the MCAS tests and had disregarded evidence that contradicted its finding of misconduct. He ordered the teacher reinstated with back pay. [41 pages]
    AAA# 1130-01128-11Timothy J. Buckalew, Esq., arbitrator

  81. West Boylston Public Schools & S.J. — August 31, 2012

    Arbitrator upheld the dismissal of a teacher after her fourth year in her teaching position. At the conclusion of her third year of teaching, the district, in lieu of dismissal and at the request of the teacher, rehired her for a fourth year on the condition that she waive professional status for that year. The arbitrator found that the waiver did not violate public policy because it merely extended the teacher's "probationary" period and did not seek to undermine the purpose of M.G.L. ch. 71 § 42. The arbitrator found that the agreement was in the interest of both parties, as it gave the teacher, who would be remaining in the same position for a fourth year, the opportunity to be evaluated by a new principal. As a result, the teacher had no statutory protection and the district had the right to dismiss her. [9 pages]
    AAA# 1139-0147-12Michael W. Stutz, arbitrator

  82. Boston Public Schools & A.L. — September 17, 2012

    Arbitrator overturned the dismissal of a teacher because the 4 negative evaluations that were relied on to justify his dismissal had not met the contractual requirement of occurring "within a twelve (12) month period, during which the teacher is present… ." The arbitrator rejected the district's argument that school vacations should not count in computing the 12 month period. The arbitrator also faulted the district because the school had neglected (in violation of district policy) to forward to the superintendent the one positive evaluation of the teacher that occurred among the 4 negative evaluations, so the superintendent lacked that information when she in approved the recommendation to dismiss the teacher. [47 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01416-11Philip Dunn, arbitrator

  83. Springfield Public Schools and K.P. — November 17, 2012

    Reduced dismissal of teacher to a verbal warning. On a professional development day, before school was in session, the teacher behaved in a bizarre and belligerent manner toward her principal. As she was leaving the school, and after threatening to smash the principal's car, the teacher hit the principal's parked car as she pulled away from the school. The district terminated the teacher, finding that she engaged in conduct unbecoming a teacher and her actions posed a direct threat or a significant risk of harm to the safety of students and staff. The arbitrator found that dismissal was not a proportionate or reasonable discipline, in light of the teacher's long (19 year) and unblemished record with the schools. The arbitrator also considered the teacher's extreme personal stress to be a mitigating factor, and found that there was no evidence the teacher presented a risk of harm to students or staff. [18 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00046-12Craig Overton, arbitrator

  84. Leominster Public Schools & J.D. — November 19, 2012

    Arbitrator upheld the dismissal of a teacher for failure to meet performance standards. The teacher had worked in the district for approximately 8 years and had received positive performance evaluations prior to the appointment of a new principal to the school where the teacher worked. Under the new principal, the teacher received two years of negative evaluations, culminating in a corrective action plan. The arbitrator found that the district expended much time, effort, and resources to bring the teacher's performance up to an acceptable level, but the teacher failed to achieve the appropriate level of performance. [25 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01996-11James Cooper, arbitrator

  85. Springfield Public Schools & A.B. — January 7, 2013

    Arbitrator upheld the school district's dismissal of a teacher for improperly managing student organization funds and diverting over $10,000 of those funds for personal use, but overturned related two week suspension. The Arbitrator held that the facts established just cause for the teacher's dismissal but that, because the teacher and the district agreed to postpone the meeting date to two weeks after the district's initial proposed termination date, the district's termination of the teacher on the initial date created a "de facto unpaid suspension" in the intervening two weeks, which lacked just cause. The Arbitrator ordered the district to provide all pay and benefits due for this period. For the three days following the meeting before the dismissal was processed, there was just cause for such an unpaid suspension. The Arbitrator upheld this portion of the suspension, as well as the teacher's dismissal. [51 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-02001-11Lawrence E. Katz, Esq., arbitrator

  86. Boston Public Schools & A.O. — January 31, 2013

    Arbitrator overturned the dismissal of a teacher after finding fault with both the substance and procedure that led to the teacher's dismissal for failure to meet performance standards. Substantively, the arbitrator found that there were significant problems with the "validity, reasonableness and objectivity of the evaluations themselves." The arbitrator faulted the district's procedures because it appeared that the superintendent, who reviewed and approved the principal's recommendation to terminate the teacher's employment, was not provided with any of the positive evaluations the teacher received over her 18 years teaching for the district. The arbitrator also found that the district's procedures failed to meet the relied-upon contractual requirements for a termination — two interim evaluations plus a year-end evaluation of Does Not Meet Standards within a school year, with a requirement that the year-end evaluation be received by May 14. Although the teacher was out on May 14 for a medical appointment, and received the evaluation on the next work day, May 17, the arbitrator found that because the district missed the May 14 deadline, the evaluation could not count as a year-end evaluation and the district failed to meet the contractual requirements for termination. [54 pages]
    AAA 11-300-2178-10Craig Overton, arbitrator

  87. Plymouth Public Schools & A.D. — March 13, 2013

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher. The school district dismissed the veteran (27 year) teacher based on an incident where the physical education teacher, while supervising intramurals after school, grabbed a misbehaving student and shoved him through a door. The arbitrator found the district's witnesses, including the student and three other students, more credible than the teacher and his witnesses and found that the teacher had violated the district policy which prohibits aggressive touching of students. The arbitrator did not find the decision of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to screen out a report of possible abuse or of a court magistrate not to issue criminal charges relevant to his findings. [31 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01726-1209Philip Dunn, arbitrator

  88. Fall River Public Schools & C.M. — December 2, 2013

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher with professional teacher status. The district dismissed the teacher for poor performance relating to instructional skills, classroom management, and a failure to meet performance standards. The arbitrator found that the district did not meet its burden of proof, finding that: the teacher never received an unsatisfactory evaluation consistent with the standards in the collective bargaining agreement; criticisms of the teacher's performance in written evaluations were ambiguous; and, in cases of conflicts with students or parents, the district ignored evidence exculpating the teacher. [117 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00357-12Timothy Buckalew, arbitrator

  89. Fall River Public Schools & A.G. — December 27, 2013

    Arbitrator upheld the dismissal of a teacher for failure to meet performance standards. The arbitrator found the district had established that it had just cause to dismiss the teacher based on four years of negative evaluations. The arbitrator found that despite the extensive assistance and professional development offered to the teacher, she failed to improve her performance. [22 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01015-12Robert O'Brien, arbitrator

  90. Boston Public Schools & B. H. — May 27, 2014

    Arbitrator overturned the dismissal of a teacher with 34 years' teaching experience in the district because the negative evaluations that led to her dismissal were conducted by an independent contractor, in violation of the parties' collective bargaining agreement (which provided that "the evaluation process that involves 'enter(ing) teachers' classrooms to observe, for the purposes of … evaluation" is limited to administrative employees of the BPS who are not members of the BTU). The teacher did not waive her right to object to the evaluator by not raising the issue earlier. The arbitrator therefore ordered the teacher's reinstatement with back pay. [26 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01573-11Diane Zaar Cochran, Esq., arbitrator

  91. Boston Public Schools & J.D. — July 16, 2014

    Arbitrator upheld the dismissal of a teacher for failure to meet performance standards, finding that there was a factual basis for the judgment of the evaluator and that "deference must be given to the determination that the pedagogical deficiencies outweighed the noteworthy contributions" of the teacher to the school community. The arbitrator also found that any procedural violations in the evaluation process were not substantial and did not result in prejudice to the teacher. [42 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01805-12Mark L. Irvings, arbitrator

  92. Shawsheen Valley Tech. High School & D.F. — August 20, 2014

    Arbitrator upheld the dismissal of a teacher for conduct unbecoming. The teacher was dismissed after a student reported that he had touched her inappropriately in class. After hearing testimony from eight students, the teacher, and two of his colleagues, the Arbitrator found that the students' testimony was credible and that the teacher's conduct was intentional, unnecessary, and inappropriate. The Arbitrator ruled that the School had just cause to dismiss the teacher, who had been disciplined on 5 previous occasions. [18 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-00487-13Michael W. Stutz, arbitrator

  93. Dracut Public Schools & R.M. — December 16, 2014

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher. The school district dismissed a long-term high school English teacher based on conduct unbecoming a teacher, insubordination, and failure to comply with a comprehensive evaluation plan. The arbitrator found that the district had just cause for dismissal because the teacher engaged in conduct unbecoming a teacher by using inappropriate language in a class after being told what constituted inappropriate language, having been put on notice to stop using inappropriate language in classes, and having been warned that he could be dismissed for any further use of inappropriate language. The arbitrator did not find that the district had established that the teacher was insubordinate or had failed to comply with a comprehensive evaluation plan. [27 pages]
    AAA# 01-14-0000-2678Mary Ellen Shea, arbitrator

  94. Boston Public Schools & S.W.H. — January 9, 2015

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher with professional teacher status. The school district dismissed the teacher based on failure to meet performance standards. The district presented testimony from the Assistant Director of Human Capital and from a program director at the school who was responsible for evaluating the teacher's performance during the school year in question. After the second day of the hearing, upon the advice of her union, according to the district, the program director declined to return to the hearing to complete her direct testimony or to be subject to cross examination. Upon the teacher's motion, the arbitrator struck the testimony of the program director and allowed the evaluation documents to be considered only as business records for the limited purpose of showing they were assessments and observations prepared by the program director, not for the purpose of demonstrating whether the teacher's performance did or did not meet performance standards. The arbitrator found that the program director's hearsay statements contained in the evaluation documents were not sufficiently reliable to establish that the teacher failed to satisfy performance standards and therefore the district had not met its burden of proof. [10 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01185-13John B. Cochran, arbitrator

  95. Boston Public Schools & A.C. — April 1, 2015

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher with professional teacher status. The district dismissed the teacher for conduct unbecoming a teacher, based on an incident in which the teacher was alleged to have grabbed a student around the neck, leaving marks on the student's neck. The arbitrator found the student not to be credible, based on inconsistencies in the student's testimony at the arbitration, at a previous arbitration, and at the time of the incident. The only witnesses who testified about the incident were the student and the teacher. The arbitrator did not find misrepresentations made by the teacher on his employment application about his place and date of birth to be relevant. The arbitrator also found that as the sole reason given by the district at the time of the teacher's suspension and termination was the alleged grabbing of the student, the district could not introduce other evidence that the teacher's dismissal would be in the best interests of students to establish that the district had just cause to dismiss the teacher. [19 pages]
    AAA# 11-390-01225-11John B. Cochran, arbitrator

  96. Springfield Public Schools and K.K. — July 8, 2015

    Overturned dismissal of a teacher. The teacher was dismissed for conduct unbecoming a teacher and presenting a danger to school staff. As a result of a report of a threat made by the teacher toward a school administrator in January 2013, the district placed the teacher on administrative leave and directed that he be evaluated. The expert chosen by the employer determined in June 2013 that the teacher did not present a threat. At the start of the 2013-14 school year, the district granted the teacher a medical leave of absence, with a directive that he obtain a medical clearance from a physician before returning to work. The school district rejected certifications submitted in February and March 2014 as they were not from physicians. In May 2014, the district informed the teacher that it intended to dismiss him for the threat reported in January 2013. The arbitrator found that the district did not meet its burden of proving that the teacher engaged in conduct unbecoming a teacher, based on findings that: the alleged threat occurred in a discussion with a friend in the teacher's home; the teacher was distraught at the time of the alleged threat; there was a dispute as to whether the teacher actually made the threat; the teacher had a condition that could have been accommodated at the school, but was not; and the teacher was terminated almost a year after the district's expert determined the teacher did not pose a threat and without any further evaluations, other than clearances by the teacher's own treating clinicians. [24 pages]
    AAA# 01-14-0001-3053Michael W. Stutz, arbitrator

  97. Lawrence Public Schools & G.B. — December 16, 2015

    Upheld dismissal of a teacher. The school district dismissed the ESL teacher based on failure to meet performance standards. The arbitrator found that the principal's evaluations of the teacher leading to, and during, a 30 day improvement plan justified a determination that the teacher's performance did not meet performance standards. The principal and superintendent "drew the reasonable conclusion that [the teacher] was not going to be able to achieve the level of success in the classroom that the students needed." [27 pages]
    AAA #01-14-0001-3047Arbitrator Sherrie Rose Talmadge



Last Updated: February 12, 2016
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