Posts tagged with "CT education law"

Student Records: How They are Kept and Who Has Access

Since student records often contain confidential information such as grades, disciplinary history, and medical history, it is important for parents to understand what procedures school districts must follow when disclosing educational records either with or without parental consent. This section will provide parents with an overview of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the primary federal legislation guiding schools in the disclosure of student educational records.

The first part of this section will touch upon the rights of parents to access their own child’s educational records, including restrictions on this right, and the right of parents and students to amend their educational records. Beyond outlining the respective rights of parents and students to access their records, FERPA also touches upon the confidentiality to be afforded these educational records. While schools cannot generally disclose information within the student educational records without parental or student consent, parents should be aware that there are several exceptions to this rule, which we will also discuss. We will then conclude with a discussion on the general obligations of the school or district to notify parents and students about their rights under FERPA.

What materials are considered “educational records?

The U.S. Congress has defined “educational records” as records, files, documents, or any other materials that (1) contain information related to the student; and (2) are maintained by an educational institution or by a person acting on behalf of such an institution. While the definition is broad, the legislation also spells out what material is excluded from the definition. Under the Act, a record that teachers or other school employees maintain in their sole possession is not considered an educational record. In addition, records of law enforcement authorities in the school, records of a student who is eighteen years or older that are maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or records in connection with the treatment of a student, do not fall under the definition.

What are the rights of parents and students to access educational records?

Under FERPA, parents and students have the right to access their educational records, subject to a few limitations. Parents may exercise these rights while the student is a child, and the right extends to the student once he or she turns eighteen. Nevertheless, at this stage, parents still have the right to access the records without consent from the student provided the student is listed as a dependent on a parent’s federal income tax return.
Under the statute, each school must develop appropriate procedures for granting requests by parents for educational records within a reasonable timeframe, not to exceed forty-five days. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education calls for schools to respond to reasonable requests for explanations or interpretations of the records also within a reasonable time. If circumstances prevent parents or eligible students from exercising their right to access the records, the school must either provide the parent or student with copies of the requested documents or make alternative arrangements for them to review the education records. Finally, the regulations prohibit the school from destroying records if there is an outstanding request for them.

There are, however, two important limitations to this right of review. First, if information about another student is on the educational record, the parent can review only the portion of the record pertaining to his or her child. Second, while non-custodial parents generally can review their child’s records without consent from the student or other parent, a school must deny such a request if there is a court order, state statute, or legally binding document explicitly revoking the right.

How do parents and students request to amend students’ educational records?

If a parent believes that his or her child’s educational records are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of students’ rights to privacy, the parent may request that the school amend the record. The school must decide whether to move forward with this request within a reasonable time. If it opts not to carry out the request, then it has to inform the parent or eligible student of its decision and his or her right to an informal hearing to contest the decision.

The DOE has set forth minimum requirements for the conduct of such a hearing. The school must hold the hearing within a reasonable time after the request and notify the parent or student of the date, time, and place, reasonably in advance of the proceeding. While an individual from an educational agency or institution may preside over the hearing, he or she must not have a direct interest in the outcome of the case. In terms of the hearing itself, DOE simply requires that the contesting party must have a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue at hand. The regulations provide that parents or eligible students have the right to be represented by an individual at his or her expense, including an attorney. As with other administrative proceedings, the hearing officer can only consider evidence that was presented during the hearing.

If the hearing officer decides in favor of the parent or eligible student, the school must amend the record accordingly, and inform the requesting party of this decision. On the other hand, if the hearing officer decides that the educational record is not inaccurate or misleading, parents have the right to put forth a statement in the record commenting on the contested information and why he or she disagrees with the decision of the school. The school has to keep the statement in the record as long as the record is maintained and must disclose the statement whenever it discloses the record to which the statement refers to.

When can a school disclose information regarding your child’s educational records?

Generally, schools cannot disclose to a third party information about the student from the educational records without signed and written consent from the parent or the eligible student. The signed and dated written consent may include a signature in electronic form provided it identifies the person giving the electronic consent and indicates his or her approval of the information contained within the consent. The written consent must specify which records are to be disclosed, state the reason for the disclosure, and identify the individual or organization to which the disclosure is being made. The school is obligated upon request to provide parents or eligible students with copies of the records that are to be disclosed.
When can a school disclose information without parental or student consent?

While FERPA provides extensive confidentiality protections for parents and students with respect to their educational records, there are several exceptions permitting the school to disclose the records without prior consent. For example, the school can disclose information to school officials having a legitimate educational interest in reviewing the record. School officials having such an educational interest include teachers and school employees that work directly with the student as well as attorneys for the school district. The right to disclosure may also extend to outside consultants, contractors, volunteers, and other parties that have contracted with the school provided they (1) perform a service for which the school would otherwise use employees; (2) are under the direct control of the school in the use and review of the records; and (3) will not disclose the information to an unauthorized party. Regardless of the source of the request, the school must take appropriate measures to ensure that these parties review only those records in which they have a legitimate educational interest.

The school does not need consent when it is disclosing information to state and local officials who are using the records to conduct audits, evaluations, and compliance reviews of specific educational programs. The school can also disclose to organizations that are contracting with the school to develop and administer predictive tests, administer aid programs and improve classroom instruction. Under the statute, the term “organizations” includes federal, state and local agencies, and independent organizations.

Congress has nevertheless imposed some restrictions to ensure these organizations are properly using the record. First, the written agreement between the school and the organization must specify the purpose, scope and duration of the studies, the information that is to be disclosed and contain assurances from the organization that it uses the records only for its intended purpose. Second, when conducting the studies, only representatives of the organization that have a legitimate interest in the information can access the records. Finally, once the organization completes the study, it has to destroy or return to the school all personally identifiable information. To ensure that schools comply with these requirements, the U.S. Department of Education has the authority to prohibit an institution from disclosing information to a third-party organization for five years if it makes a determination that the school violated the provisions outlined above.

If a student is intending to enroll or transfer to another school in a different district, the “receiving school” may access the educational records from the “sending school” without parental or student consent unless there is a board policy prohibiting the transfer of records. However, under Connecticut law, the receiving school must send written notification to the sending school at the time the student enrolls there. The sending school then has ten days after the written notification to send all the student’s educational records to the receiving school. If the sending school does disclose confidential information under these circumstances, it must make a reasonable attempt to notify the parent or the student at his or her last known address. However, schools do not have to carry out this notification task if (1) the parent or student initiated the disclosure, or (2) the school specifies a policy in its annual notification of forwarding a student’s records to the receiving school when that student enrolls there. In any event, the school has to provide copies of the disclosed records to the parent or student and an opportunity for a hearing if he or she wants to amend the records.

School officials may disclose information pursuant to a court order or subpoena. In doing so, the school has to make reasonable attempts to notify the parent or student about the order or subpoena in advance of the disclosure, so the parent or student has an opportunity to challenge the subpoena or court order. On a related note, if the school is defending or pursuing a legal action by or against a parent, it can disclose relevant student records without a court order, subpoena or prior parental or student consent.

Similarly, the school can disclose student information to state and local authorities without written consent if the disclosure is related to the juvenile justice system’s ability to serve that student and a particular state statute permits such an action. If the pertinent state statute was adopted after November 19, 1974, the authorities who are requesting the student records must certify in writing to the school that they will not disclose the information to any party that is not authorized by state law.

The school can also disclose confidential information in emergencies if the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individuals. Parents should be aware that the school has the statutory authority to disclose confidential student records to teachers and school officials within the school and at other schools if they have a legitimate interest in the behavior of the student. The statute also permits the school to disclose information to any other individual whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the student and any other individuals.

Finally, the school can disclose “directory information” without consent if it has provided public notice to parents or eligible students attending the school. “Directory information” means any information in an educational record of the student that would not generally be harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Examples of directory information include the student’s name, address, phone listing, e-mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, grade level, enrollment status, dates of attendance, participation in activities and sports, degrees, honors and awards received, etc. DOE has outlined requirements for what type of information must be in the public notice. First, the notice has to contain the types of personally identifiable information that the school has designated as directory information. Second, the school has to spell out the parent’s or the eligible student’s right to refuse to let the school disclose such information and the period of time within which he or she has to notify the school.
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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

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Special Needs Trusts in Connecticut

A special needs trust is set up for a person with special needs to supplement any benefits the person with special needs may receive from government programs. A properly drafted special needs trust will allow the beneficiary to receive government benefits while still receiving funds from the trust. There are three main types of special needs trusts, but first it is important to understand how a typical trust works.

What is a trust?

A trust is really a relationship between three parties — a donor, who supplies the funds for the trust; a trustee, who agrees to hold and administer the funds according to the donor’s wishes; and a beneficiary or beneficiaries who receive the benefit of the funds. Often, but not always, the donor’s wishes are spelled out in a document that gives the trustee instructions about how she should use the trust assets. Trusts have been used for estate planning for a long time, and are highly useful tools for ensuring that a donor’s property is administered as he sees fit. One of the reasons trusts are so popular is that they usually survive the death of the donor, providing a low-cost way to manage the donor’s assets for others when the donor is gone.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust is a trust tailored to a person with special needs that is designed to manage assets for that person’s benefit while not compromising access to important government benefits. There are three main types of special needs trusts: the first-party trust, the third-party trust, and the pooled trust. All three name the person with special needs as the beneficiary. A “first-party” special needs trust holds assets that belong to the person with special needs, such as an inheritance or an accident settlement. A “third-party” special needs trust holds funds belonging to other people who want to help the person with special needs. A pooled trust holds funds from many different beneficiaries with special needs.

What kinds of Special Needs Trusts are there?

The reason there are several different types of trusts has to do with regulations regarding Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a government program that assists people with low incomes who have special needs. In order to qualify for SSI, an applicant or beneficiary can have only $2,000 in his own name. If the person has more than $2,000 in his own name, (typically because of excess savings, an inheritance or an accident settlement), the government allows him to qualify for SSI so long as he places his assets into a first-party special needs trust.

The trust must be created by the beneficiary’s parent or grandparent, or by a court, but it cannot be created by the beneficiary, even though his assets are going to fund the trust. While the beneficiary is living, the funds in the trust are used for his benefit, and when he dies, any assets remaining in the trust are used to reimburse the government for the cost of his medical care. These trusts are especially useful for beneficiaries who are receiving SSI and come into large amounts of money, because the trust allows the beneficiary to retain his benefits while still being able to use his own funds when necessary.

Third-Party Special Needs Trusts

The third-party special needs trust is most often used by parents and other family members to assist a person with special needs. These trusts can hold any kind of asset imaginable belonging to the family member or other individual, including a house, stocks and bonds, and other types of investments.

The third-party trust functions like a first-party special needs trust in that the assets held in the trust do not affect an SSI beneficiary’s access to benefits and the funds can be used to pay for the beneficiary’s supplemental needs beyond those covered by government benefits. But a third-party special needs trust does not contain the “payback” provision found in first-party trusts. This means that when the beneficiary with special needs dies, any funds remaining in her trust can pass to other family members, or to charity, without having to be used to reimburse the government.

Pooled Special Needs Trust

A pooled trust is an alternative to the first-party special needs trust. Essentially, a charity sets up these trusts that allow beneficiaries to pool their resources for investment purposes, while still maintaining separate accounts for each beneficiary’s needs. When the beneficiary dies, the funds remaining in her account reimburse the government for her care, but a portion also goes towards the non-profit organization responsible for managing the trust.

Anyone can establish a special needs trust and, if the trust is properly drafted to account for tax planning, in certain situations gifts into the trust could very well reduce the size of the donor’s taxable estate. As if these are not enough reasons to create a trust, elderly people who are attempting to qualify for long-term care coverage through Medicaid can transfer their assets into a properly drafted third-party special needs trust for the sole benefit of a person with disabilities without incurring a transfer-of-assets penalty, allowing the elder to qualify for Medicaid and making sure that the person with disabilities is taken care of in the future.

Of course, every person with special needs is different, which means that every special needs trust is going to be different as well. The only way to determine which special needs trust is right for your family is to meet with a qualified special needs planner to discuss your needs. If you have any questions regarding this topic, or any special education law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

What are Special Education Related Services?

Your child’s need of related services will be determined by your child’s Planning and Placement Team (PPT) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Services shall be implemented as part of his or her IEP. Your child’s school district is responsible for the costs of implementing related services pertaining to your child’s needs. This is part of the school’s requirement to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE, by definition, includes related services.

The following are examples of related services:

  • speech-language pathology and audiology services
  • interpreting services
  • psychological services
  • physical and occupational therapy
  • recreation, including therapeutic recreation
  • social work services
  • counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling
  • orientation, mobility and medical services (except that such medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only)

If you have any questions regarding this topic, or any special education law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

Military Law & Policy Poses New Challenge for Sexual Harassment Law

Several years ago, West Point cadets initiated first-year students, including young women, by teaching them to sing the following chant while marching: ”I wish that all the ladies were holes in the road and I was a dump truck. I’d fill ’em with my load.” Years before that, Air Force Academy cadets sang similar refrains marching to and from training events. One chant described taking a ”chain saw” to cut a woman ”in two” so that they could keep ”the bottom half and give the top to you.” Two years ago, a West Point investigation revealed that a cadet on the rugby team had instructed a teammate to ”get your girl on a leash.”

These incidents expose the entrenched sexism that is tolerated at the three military services academies overseen by the Department of Defense — West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy. They also help explain repeated reports that the academies have not taken complaints of sexual assault and harassment seriously. The pattern is familiar: Each revelation incites an outcry, the academies announce reforms and the schools’ efforts prove ineffective. What endures are the chants, and the institutional misogyny they reveal.

We are student members of a legal clinic at Yale Law School representing a nonprofit group that aims to eradicate gender discrimination in the military. The Service Women’s Action Network, founded in 2007 by female veterans of the Marine Corps and the New York Army National Guard, has long objected to the way apathetic administrators at the service academies have let students get away with harassment and assault.

Part of the problem is that the military service academies are not subject to the laws that have helped students at civilian schools force their colleges to shape up. Title IX requires almost all American schools that receive federal money to eliminate sex discrimination, including sexual violence. Students can file complaints with the Department of Education to allege discriminatory policies or practices on their campuses, including the mishandling of sexual assault and harassment claims. The Department of Education has opened investigations into more than 100 schools, helping to set off an important national conversation on campus assault.

But Congress exempted the service academies when it passed Title IX in 1972. Perhaps legislators feared imposing Department of Education oversight onto military affairs. Maybe they failed to even consider the possibility of sex discrimination at the academies, which did not admit women until four years later. Whatever the reason, the result of Congress’s omission is that the approximately 2,700 female cadets and midshipmen are deprived of a fundamental protection necessary for their safety and equality.

Students on military campuses can file individual complaints of sex discrimination and misconduct within their academies, which are ultimately decided by various levels within the chain of command. But they have no one to turn to when their academies mishandle their reports or engage in other practices that hurt women. If a cadet or midshipman who reports sexual harassment and discrimination is mistreated by her academy, she can appeal the decision within the academy system and her chain of command, but she can’t appeal the manner in which such decisions are made. Her civilian peers, by contrast, can bring such claims to the Department of Education.

As it is, very few cadets and midshipmen come forward to report sex discrimination, but not because they aren’t experiencing it. According to the Department of Defense’s own surveys and data, 8 percent of women at the military academies were sexually assaulted last year, almost half faced serious sexual harassment and nearly 90 percent experienced other forms of sexism and discrimination. Yet fewer than 5 percent of the roughly 1,400 women who were sexually assaulted or harassed reported what had happened to them within their existing systems.

There is a simple way for President Obama, in his capacity as commander in chief, to put an end to this impunity. To provide cadets and midshipmen with a meaningful way to challenge sex discrimination at their academies, he should issue an executive order modeled on Title IX’s legal protections. This order would, in effect, borrow Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination and create a pathway for Title IX-like complaints within the Defense Department. The president should also order the Pentagon’s inspector general to enforce this anti-discrimination rule at the academies.

Over the past decade, public outcry about sexual assault on college campuses and in the military has spurred legal reform. But one group at the intersection of these issues — women at the service academies — are still waiting for meaningful change. Last year, while announcing a new task force on gender-based violence on civilian campuses, Mr. Obama spoke to survivors directly: ”I’ve got your back,” he said. Female cadets and midshipmen volunteer to serve our country — the president should have their backs, too.

If you feel you have been mistreated by your employer or in your place of employment and would like to explore your employment law options, contact the experienced employment law attorneys today at 203-221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com. We have the experience and knowledge you need at this critical juncture. We serve clients in both New York and Connecticut including New Canaan, Bridgeport, White Plains, and Darien.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.


Source: Ashley Anderson, Elizabeth Deutsch, Stop Assaults on Military Campuses, The New York Times, (May 12, 2015) available at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/opinion/stop-assaults-on-military-campuses.html

***All posts for the MayaLaw.com blog are created as a public service for the community. This case overview is intended for informational purposes only, and is not a solicitation of any client.***

Contractual Rights for Teachers: An Overview

Contracts for School Teachers

The law of contracts applies to contracts between teachers and school districts. This law includes the concepts of offer, acceptance, mutual assent, and consideration. For a teacher to determine whether a contract exists, he or she should consult authority on the general law of contracts. This section focuses on contract laws specific to teaching and education.

Ratification of Contracts by School Districts

Even if a school official offers a teacher a job and the teacher accepts this offer, many state laws require that the school board ratify the contract before it becomes binding. Thus, even if a principal of a school district informs a prospective teacher that the teacher has been hired, the contract is not final until the school district accepts or ratifies the contract. The same is true if a school district fails to follow proper procedures when determining whether to ratify a contract.

Teacher’s Handbook as a Contract

Some teachers have argued successfully that provisions in a teacher’s handbook granted the teacher certain contractual rights. However, this is not common, as many employee handbooks include clauses stating that the handbook is not a contract. For a provision in a handbook to be legally binding, the teacher must demonstrate that the actions of the teacher and the school district were such that the elements for creating a contract were met.

Breach of Teacher Contract

Either a teacher or a school district can breach a contract. Whether a breach has occurred depends on the facts of the case and the terms of the contract. Breach of contract cases between teachers and school districts arise because a school district has terminated the employment of a teacher, even though the teacher has not violated any of the terms of the employment agreement. In several of these cases, a teacher has taken a leave of absence, which did not violate the employment agreement, and the school district terminated the teacher due to the leave of absence. Similarly, a teacher may breach a contract by resigning from the district before the end of the contract term (usually the end of the school year).

Remedies for Breach of Contract

The usual remedy for a breach of contract between a school district and a teacher is monetary damages. If a school district has breached a contract, the teacher will usually receive the amount the teacher would have received under the contract, less the amount the teacher receives (or could receive) by attaining alternative employment. Other damages, such as the cost to the teacher in finding other employment, may also be available. Non-monetary remedies, such as a court requiring a school district to rehire a teacher or to comply with contract terms, are available in some circumstances, though courts are usually hesitant to order such remedies. If a teacher breaches a contract, damages may be the cost to the school district for finding a replacement. Many contracts contain provisions prescribing the amount of damages a teacher must pay if he or she terminates employment before the end of the contract.

If you feel you have been mistreated by your employer or in your place of employment and would like to explore your employment law options, contact the experienced employment law attorneys today at 203-221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com. We have the experience and knowledge you need at this critical juncture. We serve clients in both New York and Connecticut including New Canaan, Bridgeport, White Plains, and Darien.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.


Source: FindLaw

***All posts for the MayaLaw.com blog are created as a public service for the community. This case overview is intended for informational purposes only, and is not a solicitation of any client.***

Brief Summary of Connecticut’s Teacher Tenure Law

Connecticut’s teacher tenure law sets out strict termination and due process requirements for teachers, whether or not they have tenure. It covers certified professional employees below the rank of superintendent employed by a board of education for at least 90 days in a position that requires certification.

Covered teachers first hired after July 1, 1996 attain tenure after working for 40 school months, if their contracts are renewed for the following school year. Teachers who attain tenure with one board of education and who are reemployed by the same or another board after a break in service attain tenure after 20 school months of continuous employment, if their contracts are renewed for the following school year.

Tenured teachers have their contracts automatically renewed from year-to-year; can be dismissed only for six statutorily specified reasons; and have the right to (1) bump untenured teachers in positions for which they are qualified if their positions are eliminated, (2) written notice of the reasons for termination, (3) a termination hearing before the board of education or an impartial hearing panel, and (4) appeal the results of the hearing to Superior Court.

Untenured teachers must be (1) employed under a written contract; (2) notified by April 1 if their contracts are not being renewed for the following year; (3) given written reasons for termination or nonrenewal on request; (4) allowed a hearing before the board of education or an impartial hearing panel on the termination; and (5) if the termination is for moral misconduct or disability, granted the right to appeal to Superior Court.

As a teacher, it is imperative that you understand Connecticut’s statutory scheme surrounding hiring, evaluation, and termination processes. Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, you should seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Tenured Teacher Dismissal Process and Timetable

The teacher tenure law sets out strict termination and due process requirements for teachers, whether or not they have tenure. Tenured teachers have their contracts automatically renewed from year-to-year; can be dismissed only for six statutorily specified reasons; and have the right to (1) bump untenured teachers in positions for which they are qualified if their positions are eliminated, (2) written notice of the reasons for termination, (3) a termination hearing before the board of education or an impartial hearing panel, and (4) appeal the results of the hearing to Superior Court.

Reasons for Dismissal of Tenured Teacher

The tenured teacher dismissal process can only commenced against a tenured teacher for:

  • Inefficiency or incompetence based on evaluations that comply with State Board of Education guidelines for evaluations;
  • Insubordination against reasonable board of education rules;
  • Moral misconduct;
  • Disability proven by medical evidence;
  • Elimination of the position to which he was appointed or loss of a position another teacher, as long as there is no other position for which the teacher is qualified and subject to the applicable provisions of a collective bargaining agreement or school board policy; or
  • Other due and sufficient cause.

Before they become tenured, teachers can also be notified in writing by April 1 of each school year that their contracts will not be renewed for the coming year. The board does not have to specify any reason for nonrenewal unless the teacher files a written request for the reason. If the teacher makes such a request, the board must supply a reason within seven days.

Tenured Teacher Dismissal Process and Timetable

School boards must follow a specific statutory process when dismissing both tenured and nontenured teachers. The process requires notice, a hearing, and a right to appeal.

Notice and Right to a Hearing

The law requires local school boards to follow the steps and timetable shown in Table 1 when notifying a tenured teacher that it is considering his termination.

Table 1: Tenured Teacher Pre-Hearing Termination Process

Table 1: Tenured Teacher
Pre-Hearing Termination Process

Hearing and Hearing Panel

The board may hear the case itself or may designate a subcommittee of three or more board members to hear the case. The board may convene an impartial hearing panel, if the teacher requests it or the board designates one. The parties may also agree to a hearing before an impartial hearing officer chosen by both parties. If the parties cannot agree on a hearing officer within five days after they decide to use one, the hearing must be held before either the board or a hearing panel. The hearing panel consists of three members, one chosen by the teacher, one by the board, and a chairman chosen by these two members.

If the two members cannot agree, the third member must be selected with the help of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), using its expedited process and rules for selecting neutral grievance arbitrators. If these procedures do not work after five days, the board of education or a subcommittee must hear the case. Each party pays its own panel member and splits the cost of the third and all other hearing costs.

The hearing, decision, and appeal timetable is shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Hearing, Decision, and Appeal Timetable

Table 2: Hearing, Decision, and Appeal Timetable

Despite the foregoing requirements, the law gives a school board the right to suspend a teacher from duty immediately and without prejudice when serious misconduct is charged. [1]

As a teacher, it is imperative that you understand Connecticut’s statutory scheme surrounding hiring, evaluation, and termination processes. Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, you should seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.


[1] “Teacher Tenure Law,” by the Connecticut General Assembly. April 22, 2002: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2002/olrdata/ed/rpt/2002-r-0469.htm

Dismissal Process for Nontenured Teachers

Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at Maya Murphy, P.C. by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Dismissal Process

Nontenured teachers have many of the same termination rights as tenured teachers. But they can also be dismissed by simple nonrenewal of their contracts, if they are notified by April 1. If a teacher files a written request, the board must supplement the nonrenewal notice with a written statement of its reasons for nonrenewal within seven days of receiving the request.

Nontenured teachers may be “bumped” by tenured teachers whose positions are eliminated. Bumping must occur in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement or, if there is none, with a written policy of the board.

Nontenured teachers dismissed because their positions were eliminated or they were bumped have no right to a hearing. Otherwise, like a tenured teacher, a nontenured teacher has 20 days after receiving notice of nonrenewal or termination to file a written request for a hearing, either before the board or, if the hearing request specifies it and the board designates, an impartial hearing panel appointed as described above. The hearing must begin within 15 days of the request, unless the parties agree to an extension of not more than 15 days, and must be conducted in the same way as a tenured teacher’s hearing.

Unlike tenured teachers, nontenured teachers cannot appeal board decisions to Superior Court unless the dismissal is for moral misconduct or disability.

Court Appeals

If a teacher appeals a dismissal to Superior Court, the court must treat it as a privileged case and hear it as soon as practicable. The board must file the hearing transcript and other relevant documents with the court. The court must review the record and allow the parties to introduce new evidence if equitable disposition of the case requires it. The court may affirm or reverse the board’s decision but is not allowed to assess costs against the board unless it finds the board acted with gross negligence, malice, or bad faith. [1]

As a teacher, it is imperative that you understand Connecticut’s statutory scheme surrounding hiring, evaluation, and termination processes. Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, you should seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.


[1] “Teacher Tenure Law,” by the Connecticut General Assembly. April 22, 2002: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2002/olrdata/ed/rpt/2002-r-0469.htm

Student Injured at School Awarded $40K

Contact the personal injury attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. today. We can help you get the just compensation you deserve for your injuries of those of a loved one. For a free initial consultation, call 203-221-3100 or email JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any personal injury matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

On March 19, 2013, the plaintiff arrived at the Engineering Science University Magnet School and headed to the auditorium to have his breakfast as he did every morning, according to court documents. There was one teacher on duty, who was charged with watching over 70 to 75 students before they headed off to class. But 10 minutes before school was to start, another teacher, was chasing after two students. She was running with a pair of safety scissors in her hand, which she dropped in the chaos. The plaintiff was hurt just outside the auditorium when he and another student went down to pick up the scissors at the same time and the other student picked them up with the blades open. The plaintiff was cut on his cheek. The plaintiff was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital. He still has a scar from the injury. The plaintiff met with a plastic surgeon, who told his parents that surgery could reduce the scar, but not entirely remove it.

The defendant believes the incident was merely an accident and the teacher on duty did not even know something was amiss that could have caused harm. The defendant argued that the plaintiff did not meet the standards needed to prove that it was apparent to the teacher that a student could be in a situation where her or she could get hurt. Because the teacher did not know the students were running about and scissors were dropped, the city argued there’s no way he could have known imminent harm was possible. The defendant presented both teachers involved in the incident as witnesses.

The plaintiff’s parents sued New Haven and its Board of Education, claiming their negligence caused their son’s injury. He was awarded $40,814 to cover medical costs and future pain and suffering.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any personal injury matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our personal injury attorneys are dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their family members and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury, whether caused by a motor vehicle or pedestrian accident, a slip and fall, medical malpractice, a defective product, or otherwise. Our attorneys are not afraid to aggressively pursue and litigate cases and have extensive experience litigating personal injury matters in both state and federal courts, and always with regard to the unique circumstances of our client and the injury he or she has sustained.

School and Town Claim Immunity After Wife’s Frozen Fall

If you have a question or concern about special education law, school administration, federal standards, or the overall rights of a student, please feel free to call the expert education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport today at (203) 221-3100 .

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any education matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

In the case of Caruso v. Town of Westport, a husband and wife sued the Town of Westport and its school board for injuries resulting from negligence, as well as a loss of consortium. In law, negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. In order to succeed in this claim, the husband and wife must prove that (1) the town and school owed a duty of care to the husband and wife, (2) the town and school breached that duty and, (3) the breach of duty was a direct cause of the husband and wife’s (4) real and compensable injury. A loss of consortium is a claim for damages suffered by the spouse of a person who has been injured as a result of a party’s negligent or intentional actions. The town and school moved to strike these claims, in doing so, they challenged the legal sufficiency of the husband and wife’s complaint.

The husband and wife claim that on March 15, 2005 at around 7:00 p.m., the wife was attending a school concert at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. Upon the wife’s arrival at the high school, she was directed by a police officer to park in an adjacent parking lot at a neighboring middle school. The wife claims that the parking lot was poorly illuminated, and did not have its streetlamps on. After exiting the vehicle, the wife immediately slipped and fell to the ground on a sheet of ice which caused her to sustain physical injuries.

The court struck the claims against the town and school. Generally, a town is protected by governmental or municipal immunity, which provides a local government with immunity from tort-based claims. There are exceptions to this immunity, which are specifically set forth according to law or statute. No such exception was argued here. “The right of the plaintiffs to recover is limited by the allegations of their complaints and the court must not countenance a variance which seeks to turn a suit against a governmental official in his official capacity into a suit against the individual personally” explained the court. “To do otherwise, would allow [the husband and wife] to subject an unsuspecting government official to personal liability.”

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any education matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com, to schedule a free consultation.


Source: Caruso v. Town of Westport, 2006 Conn. Super. LEXIS (Conn. Super. Ct. October, 10, 2006)

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