School Committee Requests Posted: Oct-20-04 at 9:48 AM by Michael Long
This hypothetical assumes a basic familiarity with the roles of School Committee, Superintendent, and Building Principal following the ERA. The discussion must consider those roles and any other factors you deem relevant to a resolution. If you feel you need more information than the hypothetical provides, explain what you believe is missing, why it is important and how the presence or absence of the information affects your judgment.


You are a building principal. First quarter progress reports have been sent home. You have been approached by a school committee member whose neighbor has a Fourth grade child who takes the bus to your school. The parent has told the committee member that the bus stop is too far down the street from the driveway. You are asked by the committee member to reconfigure the bus stops and to consider the hiring of a bus monitor to ride the bus for security purposes. The committee member also suggests that you re-assign teachers, rather than the administrators currently assigned, to the bus drop off area so that the students see a friendly and familiar face in the morning.

You know that budget cuts have resulted in the use of fewer buses, running in tiers, to cover the routes at all grade levels. The school council discussed the routes at a duly posted meeting prior to the school year. You know that the Superintendent has recently “given away the store” at the negotiating table with the teachers’ union. Negotiating concessions included a reduction in teacher duties.

What process would you utilize to address the committee member’s concern, to whom would you speak and why before you made a decision, and to whom would you communicate the decision?

If you were the Superintendent what would you do about this request? Why?

Personnel; Contacts and Hiring Posted: Oct-20-04 at 3:37 PM by Michael Long
Locate your district's Collective Bargaining agreement or hiring policy documentation and examine the following questions:

Does your district require additional qualifications for candidates to teaching or administrative positions?
What terms of your collective bargaining agreement speak to hiring qualifications?
What flexibility does the CBA provide for initial hiring or salary placement based on relevant service, educational training/degrees obtained, or additional certifications held by the candidate?
What role(s) are played by school councils, in the site based system, and where does your School Committee fit in the personnel hiring process?
Are there provisions in your collective bargaining agreement that affect the hiring process?

Personnel; Transfers Posted: Oct-22-04 at 10:23 AM by Michael Long
Economic conditions in the last few years has resulted in the need to layoff staff and reconfigure faculty assignments. The staff realignments have sometimes resulted from a attrition and sometimes through transfer of staff.

Review your collective bargaining agreement, summarize relative transfer and assignment language and describe procedures you have used or will use to effect transfers and changes in staff assignment in light of the decisions summarized above.

Feedback from the instructor and classmates will provide constructive criticism and comment, or follow up questions, concerning the actions you took and why.

Personnel; Suspension and Discharge Posted: Oct-22-04 at 10:24 AM by Michael Long
Please review your recent management experience with personnel issues and select for discussion one matter involving potential or imposed staff discipline. State briefly the facts, your initial assessments, steps you took to investigate the matter, conclusion you reached and factors you considered in coming to your decision. The instructor and other classmates will comment on your approach and their assessment of the situation in light of the materials discussed in Lesson Two.

First Ammendment and Public vs Private Concerns Posted: Nov-10-04 at 10:32 AM by Michael Long
Assume hypothetically that a teacher speaks out in a classroom during an election campaign such as the one recently completed. Assume further that in the course of his or her comments the teacher states a preference for one candidate or the other based on the teacher’s opinion about gay marriage and the war in Iraq. What information would you want to know about the situation before determining what steps to take and what steps would you take to address these events.
First Ammendment and Employee Free Speech Posted: Nov-10-04 at 10:34 AM by Michael Long
Understanding that the relations between management and union representatives can be confrontational and that the union’s activities in such circumstances are generally protected, can you cite examples from your own experience in which you believe Union Official’s “crossed the line” in their activities? In this question you should reflect on the time, place, and subject matter of the comments, the impact the speech had on the District’s ability to function effectively, whether any actual disruption to the provision of educational services occurred, and other factors you considered in determining whether to impose discipline.
First Ammendment and Academic Freedom Posted: Nov-10-04 at 10:35 AM by Michael Long
How do you manage establishment of educational standards and grading criteria. What has happened in your district when a teacher initiates modifications to curriculum or grading standards which occurs in the name of academic freedom? What process is in place for ?? about grading?
Determining Residency Posted: Nov-16-04 at 10:02 AM by Michael Long
The Lydia D., et al v. Thomas W. Payzant, is helpful for outlining some of the information which administrators may consider in making residency determinations. In addition to the usual suspects, such as leases, purchase and sales agreements, deeds, utility bills, electric bills, etc., the Superior Court in a non-precedent setting decision also observed that there are other indicia of intent to establish a student’s domicile such an as address on driver’s license, car registration, car insurance, voter registration, employment or bank records. Participation in civic, religious, cultural or social organizations and even the establishment of a relationship with a new doctor or participation in extra-curricular activities might help in a determination.

What steps does your district take to verify residency and pursue payment options? If you are a school choice district will the statutory amendments affect your practices?

What policies are in place in your district relative to “Zero tolerance”; How are they working and what changes would you make to them?
School Discipline and the Decision Making Process Posted: Nov-16-04 at 12:55 PM by Michael Long
What observations do you make about the students and the environment before using authority granted by Chapter 71 §37H or 37H1/2. How do you document the decision making process?

This could be in response to student wardrobe selections, how effective are these steps and how would you document the “disruption” necessary to support enforcement of a school dress code?


What procedures are in place to supervise context in students newspaper? What is the students’ reaction to “school censorship” and how would you handle negative comments about staff or administration in school newspapers?

Cooperating and Interacting with your Local Police Department Posted: Nov-16-04 at 12:56 PM by Michael Long
Describe the relationship between your school and the police Department. When do you call in Police to “take-over” a search/seizure operation. Have you or your school allowed the use of Police dogs to assist searches? If so, under what circumstances?

School Prayer Posted: Nov-16-04 at 12:59 PM by Michael Long
If there was a wall between church and state in the public schools, it is fair to say it’s too low for some and too high for others. What has your experience been with student groups’ use of school foulities for religious purposes during non instructional time? Does such use create conflict in the community or in school? What would happen if a religious group practicing Santeria or some other non main stream religion wanted to use school buildings?

Collective Bargaining and Negotiations Summaries Posted: Dec-02-04 at 10:09 AM by Michael Long
Please review the Collective Bargaining Case Study. Note the issues as you understand them for purposes of exchange or review views with classmates or the instructor. Draft a brief memorandum, using bullet points, to address the legal issues raised by the case study.

The committee has scheduled an executive session to review the current status of negotiations and potential “areas of difficulty.” Please draft a brief memorandum, using bullet points, to address the legal issues raised by the case study below.

Open Meeting Law Posted: Dec-15-04 at 3:32 PM by Michael Long
What steps do you take to redirect the committee’s attention when the conversation in an executive session drifts beyond the scope of the initial purpose?
What has your experience been in dealing with the your District Attorney relative to allegations of Open Meeting Law violations and what advice can you provide to classmates concerning those dealings?
What is your opinion, vis-à-vis the Open Meeting Law, of the fairly widespread practice of governmental bodies public adjourning meetings and convening for conviviality at a local restaurant after a meeting?

Public Records Posted: Dec-15-04 at 3:34 PM by Michael Long
Review Wakefield Teachers’ Association v. Wakefield School Committee, 431 Mass. 792 (2000), relative to the disclosure by a superintendent of an internal disciplinary report concerning a teacher and note the reference to employee evaluations status under the Public Records Law.

What course of action would recommend to the committee to a school district if you received a request for similar information?
What course of action would you recommend should the local newspaper call asking for a copy of your evaluation?
Subclause (d) of Chapter 26 exempts from disclosure interagency or interagency memorandum of letters relating to policy or positions except that this exemption “shall not apply to reasonably completed factual studies or reports on which the development of such policy or positions has been or may be based.” Assume you are in the process of building a new school. Your engineers report that over the course of time water has leaked into the building at roof drains, around windows and near ground HVAC units. Many of your ceiling tiles and some of the walls in classrooms appear to have mold growth. You have asked the engineers for a study which has just been returned to you confirming the existence of mold. The PTA has requested a copy of the engineer’s report and you have not had an opportunity to discuss it with the school Committee.

What do you do in response to the request?

Conflict of Interest Posted: Dec-15-04 at 3:36 PM by Michael Long
Review the State Ethics Commission website. Look for the Ethics Commission decision involving Norman McCann and review the decision in McCann v. State Ethics Commission, 32 Mass. App. Ct. 421 (1992). McCann makes it clear that public employees and officials may not, even through so called independent entities, conduct business directly with their municipal employer, in McKeon’s case a school district.

What would you do or recommend if one of your school committee members was also employed by the school district?
What factors would cause you concern and what steps would you take to clarify the situation?

General Municipal Liability Issues Posted: Dec-15-04 at 3:37 PM by Michael Long
Do you conduct annual insurance audits to insure that you have the insurance company’s best recommendations for reducing risk of injury while on the premise?
What policies do you have in place concerning supervision of students and/or employees while on school grounds or off school grounds but engaged in school activities?
What is your understanding of the roles and duties of counsel to the district when that attorney is assigned by an insurance company to defend the district against negligence claims?