SHQ Wins Appeal

SHQ Public School Client Wins – Appeals Court Overturns Arbitrator’s Award: The Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed a lower court decision and vacated an Arbitrator’s Award that had reinstated a public school teacher. The School Committee of Chicopee, Massachusetts fired a teacher for insubordinate conduct and improper use of a sick day. The Massachusetts Teachers Association grieved the discharge under the teachers’ labor contract. But Massachusetts also has a teacher dismissal statute (M.G.L. c. 71, § 42).

On behalf of the School Committee, Attorney Gordon Quinn of SHQ argued that once the School Committee had proven that the teacher had engaged in the improper conduct in question, the Arbitrator had to uphold the dismissal; and that by reinstating the teacher, the Arbitrator was exceeding his authority because he was substituting his judgment for the judgment of the School Committee.

The Court of Appeals accepted Gordon Quinn’s argument, finding that the Arbitrator erred by crafting his decision entirely from the assumption that the collective bargaining contract controlled and was the source and scope of his authority. The Arbitrator never applied the standards of M.G.L. c. 71, § 42 nor considered the best interests of the pupils and the need for elevation of performance standards.