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Education Laws and Regulations

Summary of Arbitration Awards

Issued Pursuant to General Laws Chapter 71 And Related Judicial Decisions

  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

II. Description of Awards

B. Supervisor Dismissals or Demotions Pursuant to Section 41

General Laws c. 71, § 41, ¶ 3 provides:

A principal, assistant principal, department head or other supervisor who has served in that position in the public schools of the district for three consecutive years shall not be dismissed or demoted except for good cause.

  1. Boston Public Schools & R. R.4 — March 20, 1995

    Upheld dismissal of an assistant principal due to inadequacies in performance. The assistant principal allegedly failed to carry out district policies and procedures, including discipline procedures. The arbitrator applied some procedural protections associated with just cause dismissal, to the good cause standard and considered the best interests of the pupils. [21 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-01463-94
    Arbitrator Diane Zaar Cochran

  2. Milford Public Schools — January 19, 1996

    Upheld dismissal of an assistant principal for inappropriate and sexually provocative conduct. The arbitrator equated the good cause standard in section 41 with the traditional just cause standard and stated that the standard of proof is clear and convincing evidence. [10 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-00509-95
    Arbitrator Michael F. Walsh

  3. Salem Public Schools & M. B. — May 1, 1996

    Arbitrator did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the alleged demotion of a head teacher because the head teacher was not a supervisor under section 41. 13 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-01203-95
    Arbitrator Sarah Kerr Garraty

  4. Marlborough Public Schools*5 — October 13, 1995 and May 5, 1997

    In the first decision, the arbitrator overturned the dismissal of a high school principal for failure to file timely accreditation reports and ordered that the principal be reinstated with full pay and benefits. [11 pages]

    The Superior Court vacated the arbitration award because the arbitrator equated the good cause standard for the dismissal of principals [or other supervisors] with the just cause standard for teacher dismissals to determine if there was good cause to support the dismissal. In the second decision, the arbitrator overturned the dismissal, finding that the district did not have good cause to dismiss the principal for failing to file timely accreditation reports. The district was ordered to reinstate the principal and reimburse him for lost pay and benefits. The arbitrator ruled that the principal's actions were consistent with the best interests of the pupils and the dismissal was "arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable, and irrelevant to the task of maintaining an efficient school system." The superintendent allegedly dismissed the principal to impress the accreditation association because he was seeking employment with them. [9 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-02102-94
    Arbitrator Michael Walsh

  5. Falmouth Public Schools — January 21, 1998

    Director of human resources was not entitled to arbitrate his dismissal because he was not a supervisor under section 41. He did not have authority over educators or the educational process. [11 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-01300-97
    Arbitrator Diane Zaar Cochran

  6. Pittsfield Public Schools & H.E. — December 14, 1998

    Upheld the demotion of the Director of Special Education to a teaching position following an internal investigation concerning complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation by another teacher in the department. The appropriate standard of review was "good cause." The district demonstrated that it had a sound basis for its decision, that its action was rational and reasonable, and that it provided the employee with due process, including notice of the allegations of misconduct and an opportunity to be heard. There was credible evidence, including corroborating witnesses and other external factors, to show the director engaged in inappropriate activity, and the demotion was a reasonable penalty for his actions. [75 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-01602-97
    Arbitrator Tammy Brynie

  7. Cambridge School Committee & P.B. — April 28, 1999

    The arbitrator did not have jurisdiction over the alleged demotion of an administrator. In 1992 the administrator was removed from his position as Technical Coordinator of Occupational Education at a school and reassigned as an "administrator on assignment" at no reduction in salary. In the new position, the administrator was neither involved in personnel matters nor directed the work of other employees. In 1996, the administrator was notified that he was being transferred into a teaching position and his salary was being reduced. In response to the 1996 notice, the administrator filed a request for statutory arbitration. The arbitrator held that the 1992 transfer might have been arbitrable under G.L. c. 71, § 41, but as the administrator had not filed a request within 30 day of receiving notice, he had forfeited his right to arbitrate that transfer. As to the 1996 transfer, the arbitrator found that it was a demotion, but not one arbitrable under c. 71, §41, because the individual demoted was an administrator, but not a "supervisor" for the purposes of § 41. [26 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-02656-96
    Arbitrator Nancy Peace

  8. Lawrence Public Schools & W.C. — October 12, 1999

    The assignment of an employee from the principal position at Lawrence High School to the principal position at an elementary school in the district was not a demotion and therefore not arbitrable under M.G.L. c. 71, §41. The principal's contract with the district contained a clause that allowed the superintendent to reassign or transfer the principal to another professional administrative position or other position for which he is qualified. The arbitrator held that the individual employment contract is controlling with respect to what constitutes a demotion. Since the transfer was not a demotion, it is therefore not arbitrable under M.G.L. c. 71, §41. [29 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-00289-99
    Arbitrator Nancy E. Peace

  9. Ludlow Public Schools — November 29, 1999

    Upheld district's dismissal of principal, finding that the district had good cause for the dismissal. The principal had entered a teacher's house during the day, when only the teacher's twelve-year-old daughter was home, and taken prescription pain medication from the teacher's bathroom. The principal claimed that she had received permission from the teacher to enter the home and take the medication, which the principal said she needed to alleviate severe migraine headaches. The arbitrator found that the principal's testimony was not credible. The arbitrator further found that the superintendent's decision to terminate the principal's employment was justified as the superintendent had lost confidence in the principal's ability to function effectively. [16 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-00235-99
    Arbitrator Diane Zaar Cochran

  10. Medford Public Schools & J. C. — February 13, 2001

    Overturned dismissal of Director of Community Schools whose position had allegedly been eliminated due to administrative reorganization and budget constraints. The arbitrator first determined that the employee could not raise violations of the collective bargaining agreement at an arbitration hearing under G.L. c. 71, §41. The arbitrator also noted that the district failed to maintain or produce necessary personnel documents. Ultimately, the arbitrator determined that there was no bona fide layoff under §41 because the position was never actually eliminated. Furthermore, since the Director's specific position did not require him to maintain his certification, there was no good cause for dismissal. [24 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-00768-00
    Arbitrator Marsha Mearns Saylor

  11. J.S. & Swampscott School Committee — February 16, 2004

    Upheld dismissal of assistant pricipal for "good cause." Assistant principal granted merit award to his son, after being told by principal that another student was to be the sole recipient of the award. The Arbitrator rejected the assistant principal's argument that a single isolated incident could not amount to insubordination, particularly in light of his 14 years of "exemplary service" as assistant principal. [11 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-1183-03
    Arbitrator James L. Litton

  12. Gloucester School Committee and D.O. — August 11, 2005

    Arbitrator upheld dismissal of a principal. The principal appeared late for the first day of school and admitted drinking alcohol before arriving at school. The superintendent directed the principal to go home, but the principal went to a bar, drank more, and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The superintendent fired the principal. The arbitrator found that as the district's decision to terminate the principal was "put forth in good faith" and was not "arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable, or irrelevant to the task of building up and maintaining an efficient school system," the district establish good cause and the termination should be upheld. The arbitrator also discussed consideration of "best interested of the pupils" as required in ch. 71, § 42. The arbitrator found that although the principal had performed well and had played a major role in improving the school, his dismissal did not so compromise the best interests of the pupils that the dismissal must be viewed as arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable or irrelevant. [26 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-02670-04
    Sarah Kerr Garraty, Arbitrator

  13. Lynn Public Schools & C.L.B. — May 12, 2006

    The arbitrator determined that involuntary removal from a non-supervisory position of Special Education [IEP Team] Chairperson and assignment to a teaching position with a reduction in work days and compensation constituted a demotion within the meaning of Chapter 71, Section 42. The arbitrator also determined that the demotion occurred in March when the individual received a letter notifying her that the involuntary transfer would occur immediately and not in July when she was notified of her assignment for the following school year. [17 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-02370-05
    Arbitrator Garry Wooters

  14. Lowell School Department and E.C. — October 12, 2006

    Arbitrator upheld dismissal of a principal. The arbitrator discussed and then applied the traditional "good cause" standard of review, and upheld the superintendent's decision to dismiss the principal. The arbitrator found that the manner in which the principal conducted a staff meeting, which humiliated certain staff members, constituted significant misconduct and provided the superintendent with "good cause" to exercise her discretion to dismiss the principal. [53 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-01867-05
    Lawrence Katz, Arbitrator

  15. Agawam Public Schools & L.P. — September 5, 2007

    Arbitrator found the principal had voluntarily resigned her position, and was not entitled any back pay or benefits. The principal was notified in September 2006 that her contract would not be renewed upon its expiration in June 2007. On November 14, 2006, the principal left the school, telling the superintendent that "she was leaving," turning in her school identification, and taking her personal belongings. Two days later, the principal called the superintendent's office and reported that she would be out sick. The arbitrator found that the principal had voluntarily resigned, and that the school district was not obligated to follow the termination procedures found in MGL ch. 71, § 41. The arbitrator relied on the testimony of numerous witnesses who testified that the principal intended to leave her job, including the testimony of a new employer who testified that the principal had accepted a job with the employer prior to November 14, 2006. [14 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-00243-07
    Joseph Daly, Arbitrator

  16. Springfield Public Schools and M.S. — July 15, 2008

    Overturned dismissal of adjustment counselor. The adjustment counselor, along with members of her family, was charged with federal crimes of conspiracy to commit bribery and receive illegal gratuities, conspiracy to commit theft against the government and obstruction of justice. While other members of her family were convicted or entered guilty pleas, the adjustment counselor entered into a "Pretrial Diversion Agreement" (PDA) with the federal government, in which she admitted receiving gifts from her family, but did not admit that she knew the gifts were stolen from public funds. The arbitrator held that the district could rely on the facts admitted in the PDA to discipline a teacher, even though the terms of the PDA led to the ultimate dismissal of all charges. However, the arbitrator found that the facts admitted in this case did not support a discharge, as the adjustment counselor did not admit she knew at the time that she accepted the gifts that they were illegal. [16 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-02430-07
    Philip Dunn, Arbitrator

  17. Arlington Public Schools & S.B. — March 27, 2012

    Arbitrator upheld dismissal of a principal. The arbitrator first determined that several of the grounds detailed in the Notice of Intent to Dismiss were not established: falsification of email, deception of duty, conflict of interest, and hostile work environment. The arbitrator then found that the principal engaged in inappropriate emails with a teacher for an extended period of time during work hours. Further, the arbitrator found that the principal failed to acknowledge the inappropriateness of these emails and failed to reprimand the teacher for his conduct in altering emails. The principal's actions violated the school district's Acceptable Use Policy, showed a lapse of judgment, and constituted "good cause" to dismiss the principal. [43 pages]

    AAA# 11-390-2034-07
    Tammy Brynie, Arbitrator

  18. Springfield Public Schools and D.B. — December 20, 2012

    Arbitrator found the district had good cause to dismiss the supervisor of vocational safety at a vocational high school. The district cited a number of instances of misuse and misappropriation of school resources and school funds. The arbitrator addressed only one set of allegations and found that the supervisor diverted public resources to private gain by having public employees work on his vacation house while calling in sick to work and while using materials paid for with school accounts. The arbitrator rejected the educator's arguments that: (1) this was common practice at the school; (2) a new administration was obliged to notify the educator that such behavior would no longer be tolerated; and (3) the investigation into his behavior was faulty. [32 pages]

    AAA# 01-15-0002-9235
    Timothy Buckalew, Arbitrator

  19. Seekonk Public Schools & M.W. — November 22, 2016

    Arbitrator upheld the dismissal of an assistant principal. In response to a report of missing medication, the assistant principal approved the installation of a concealed video camera in the school nurse's office without permission from, or notice to, either the principal or the superintendent. The arbitrator noted that given the petitioner's years of experience and good record with the district, "it is unfortunate the Employer did not choose a lesser discipline. That said, where the grounds for discipline are not arbitrary or unreasonable and good cause for discipline has been established, leniency remains the prerogative of the employer, not the arbitrator." [19 pages]

    AAA# 16-000-2924
    Mary Ellen Shea, Arbitrator

Last Updated: March 7, 2019

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