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Education Laws and Regulations

Summary of Arbitration Awards

Issued Pursuant to General Laws Chapter 71 And Related Judicial Decisions

June 1993–February 2019

  1. Introduction
  2. Description of Awards
    1. Teacher Dismissals Pursuant to Section 42
    2. Supervisor Dismissals or Demotions Pursuant to Section 41
    3. Employee Suspensions Pursuant to Sections 42D and 42
    4. Teacher Lay-offs Pursuant to Section 42
    5. Procedural and Arbitrability Issues
  3. Judicial Decisions

I. Introduction

A. Arbitrations

 Total in Each categoryUpheldOverturned
or Reduced
Not Arbitrable/
Not Dismissed
Total Arbitrations191908412
Teacher Dismissals
Pages 2–12
Supervisor Dismissals or Demotions
Pages 12–15
Suspensions5426 (1 Asst. Principal, Dir. Bldg./Grounds)28 (1 Coach)2

*Totals vary slightly since not all decisions fall into the categories listed above.

B. Judicial Decisions

The Massachusetts courts have held that educators are not entitled to seek arbitration of non-renewals. In Natick, the Supreme Judicial Court held that a coach was not entitled to arbitrate the non-renewal of his contract. In Downing, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the Middlesex Superior court's decision, stating that non-renewal of a principal's contract does not constitute a dismissal. The Appeals Court ruled in Wayland that a coach was not entitled to tenure although he was also a teacher with professional teacher status (PTS).

In Dedham, the Appeals Court held that a teacher with professional teacher status must challenge a lay-off decision through statutory arbitration proceedings, and not through judicial proceedings. Subsequently, in Westport, the Appeals Court held that teachers who were laid off for budgetary reasons could not seek arbitration. In Ballotte v. City of Worcester, the Appeals Court held that a teacher with PTS who was dismissed for budgetary reasons could pursue statutory claims under G.L. c. 71, § 42 in Superior Court, and also had bumping rights to other positions within the district for which she was qualified.

In Marlborough, the Middlesex Superior Court held that the good cause standard for dismissal of a principal under G.L. c. 71, § 41 was not as stringent as the just cause standard for teacher dismissal under G.L. c. 71, § 42.

The Suffolk Superior Court upheld arbitration awards in two different cases, the City of Lowell and the School Committee of the City of Boston. Different arbitrators had ordered the reinstatement of teachers who had been dismissed for conduct unbecoming a teacher.

The Worcester Superior Court upheld an arbitration award in the City of Worcester, ordering the reinstatement of a guidance counselor dismissed for sexual harassment.

In School Committee of Beverly v. Geller, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated a judgment of the Superior Court upholding an arbitration award. In the plurality opinion, three justices concluded that if an arbitrator finds that one of the enumerated grounds for dismissal has been proved, the arbitrator may not substitute his judgment of what the penalty should be for that of the school district. A fourth justice, concurring in the result, reasoned that the arbitrator's award in this case should be vacated on public policy grounds. Three justices dissented.

These judicial decisions are described in further detail in Section III.

Last Updated: March 7, 2019

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