Session 1
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Wednesday - October 20, 2004
Session 2 Edit Session
Session 3
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Personnel and Staff
Session Introduction:


Click the TV icon above to view Mike Long's Introduction to Session 2

Personnel Practices in Schools:

In this class, Part One of Personnel Issues, students will be expected to review instructor prepared materials attached and access materials available on the WEB  for the purpose of acquiring  some familiarity with laws, regulations, arbitration awards and judicial decisions affecting personnel practices in schools.


This lesson will  focus on the  licensure/certification regulations, hiring procedures, evaluation issues,  reduction in force,  and staff discipline, including  a review of just cause standards and arbitration awards under the Education Reform Act of 1993.


There are three separate readings and therefore three different discussions designed to provide feedback and an opportunity to explore each topic deeper. I understand that after a busy day at school, you may not have the time and energy, to examine each area. I suggest you read and participate in the discussions that are most relevant to you in your current position. If, at this moment, you have questions about a specific topic explore that deeply and browse the others. If an issue arises later in the semester that you wish to revisit then do so.



Session Outline:
  1. Licensure / Certification
  2. Hiring Process
  3. Transfer of Personnel
  4. Discipline under the ERA—Suspension and Discharge 

One of the hallmarks of any profession is licensure by a government or peer group. Licensure reflects a public recognition of advanced or specialized study required to master a subject or practice.Much has been made aboiut the quality and qualifications of teachers and adminstrators, particularly with the NCLB's required issuance of district report cards identifiying the academin or certification background of staff. Prior to the NCLBA, Massachusetts had embarked on an ambitious overhaul of its certicication system ias part of the ERA. The Board of Education emphasized cetification as a way to build public trust and confidence in the training educators receive and also to ensure that specialized subject areas, such as math, were taught by teachers with a strong subject matter base.

Adminstrators must be familiar with basic certification requirements to ensure staff is properly licensed. The materials identified below outline the core stautues and regulations affecting certification.

Visit the General Laws of Massachusetts website and locate and read M.G.L. c.71, §38G Certification for Certain Teaching and Administrative Positions or click here for quick access.

(hint: to find this document go to and select Administration of the Government then scroll down to Chapter 71 Public Schools then scroll down to section 38G Certification)


Visit the Code of Massachusetts Regulations website carefully review relevant portions re: certification/recertification regulations in sections 

(hint: to find this document go to,  select the CMR Index, locate citations 600-699 then select 603 CMR 7.00 or 603 CMR 44.00)

Assignment: Note minimum qualifications are set by Commonwealth and your district may add additional qualifications for employment. Locate your district's Collective Bargaining agreement or hiring policy documentation and examine the following questions:

  1. Does your district require additional qualifications for candidates to teaching or administrative positions?
  2. What terms of your collective bargaining agreement speak to hiring qualifications?
  3. 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?

Visit the Personnel; Contacts and Hiring discussion to submit the answers to these questions or to ask for clarification.

Hiring Process:
The adoption of the ERA substantially changed the process by which most school district hiring is done.It is important to understand the historical context of pre-ERA practices, when the Committee controlled the process after a Superintendent made recommendations of candidates for employment. The Committee could not hire a candidate without the superintendent’s recommendation leading, on more than one occasion, to a test of wills between a Superintendent who refused to nominate the Committee’s preferred candidate and a Committee who would not appoint the Superintendent’s choice.

The Legislature accepted the argument of Superintendents that, as professionals to be held accountable for the results of new curriculum and testing systems, they should be able to select the staff and administrators to implement new requirements

Under the ERA, Principals now are responsible for hiring, subject to the Superintendent’s approval, staff for their buildings. Statutes M.G.L., c.71 §§59 & 59B. set out the responsibilities of administrators in a system which was designed to be “building based”. The legislature did not define it’s understanding of site or building based management, leading to extensive litigation, particularly over transfers, discussed below.

Review M.G.L., c.71 §§59 & 59B & 59C by visiting the General Laws of Massachusetts website.

  • M.G.L., c.71 §§59 Superintendents Role click here for quick access.
  • M.G.L., c.71 §§59B Principals Role click here for quick access.
  • M.G.L., c.71, §§59C School Committee Role click here for quick access.

(hint: to find this document go to and select Administration of the Government then scroll down to Chapter 71 Public Schools then scroll down to section 59 Certification)


The Governance Memo, published November, 1995  identifies a number of positions which are still subject to Committee appointment after the ERA. It is generally understood that these positions, chiefly the Assistant Superintendent, Business Manager, and the Special Education Administrator cannot be unilaterally appointed by the Superintendent.

Review the Governance Memo, click here for quick access.

(hint: to find this document go to and under the drop down menu called Select Program Area (screen right) select Laws and Regulations, then select Legal Advisories (menu is screen left), finally select Advisory on School Guidance.) 

Assignment: What role(s) are played by school councils, see M.G.L., c.71, sec. 59C 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?

Visit the Personnel; Contacts and Hiring discussion to submit the answers to these questions or to ask for clarification.

Transfer of Personnel:

Please review the attached summaries of Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court decisions discussing the transfer of personnel from one building to another in

While there are some matters which are now in the principal’s exclusive domain after the ERA, involuntary transfers are not among them. Pittsfield and Westport are clear. Follow contract procedures which may, as in Westport, rely on seniority. If, however, your contract contains language allowing for administrative judgments or comparison of qualifications between or among staff subject to an involuntary transfer, identify the “pod” and document your decision as to why one employee was selected over another.

ASSIGNMENT:  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. 

Visit the Personnel; Transfers discussion to submit the answers to these questions or to ask for clarification.

Discipline under the ERA—Suspension and Discharge:

Prior to the ERA personnel were subject to discipline, short of suspension and discharge, by Superintendents. Suspension and discharge cases were bought to school committees for hearings, often in public, where discipline would be imposed if 2/3rds of the Committee so voted. The ERA delegated all staff discipline to Superintendents and Principals.

Review M.G.L., c.71 §§41 & 42 by visiting the General Laws of Massachusetts website.

(hint: to find this document go to and select Administration of the Government then scroll down to Chapter 71 Public Schools then scroll down to section 41G Certification)

The statutory process for suspension and discharge cases is set out in those laws and outlined below. The next section on reduction in force Progressive discipline has become part of the unwritten law of the work place in the public sector and unionized job sites, where management decisions are typically subject to review by arbitrators. You should expect to apply a progressive discipline system for most disciplinary infractions. A few notable exceptions are obvious from a review of the arbitration summaries available from the DOE website.

Typically a progressive discipline system is not articulated as such in a collective bargaining agreement, Nevertheless, arbitrator expect to see a progressive system applied within the context of a just cause analysis, discussed below. You should also consider, in conjunction with counsel, the use of administrative leave to provide an opportunity to investigate allegations which present issues are not capable of prompt resolution.

Generally a progressive system incorporates several steps of escalating severity as follows:

  1. Oral warning (confirm it in writing as such)
  2. Written warning (confirm it in writing as such)
  3. Short suspension ( confirmed in writing as to the process and reasons for the action taken)
  4. Long term suspension (confirmed in writing as to process utilized and reasons for the action taken)
  5. Discharge

Elements of Just Cause – Identified by Arbitrators and Statutory Requirements

“Just Cause” is a term of art. The ERA did not define the words. Most collective bargaining agreements do not define the words or the concept. As a result, arbitrators have traditionally interpreted just cause language to authorize their review of management’s disciplinary decisions. Archibald Cox determined that the phrase “just cause” encompasses a review of the totality of circumstances presented by a case to determine whether due process was provided.

Review and save for future reference Elements of Just Cause a brief review prepared for this course.

ASSIGNMENT: 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.

Visit the Personnel; Suspension and Discharge discussion to submit the answers to these questions or to ask for clarification.

  • Personnel; Contacts and Hiring
  • Personnel; Transfers
  • Personnel; Suspension and Discharge