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07/12/78 ROBERT A. GLENNON v. SCHOOL COMMITTEE

July 12, 1978

ROBERT A. GLENNON
v.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE OF BOSTON



Suffolk. Civil action commenced in the Superior Court on July 29, 1976. The case was heard by Morse, J., on a motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court granted a request for direct appellate review.

Hennessey, C.j., Quirico, Kaplan, Wilkins, & Abrams, JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

School and School Committee. Statute, Construction. Words, "Demotion."

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Quirico

The provisions of St. 1975, c. 199, amending G. L. c. 71, § 42A, did not restrict the meaning of "demotion" in § 42A but supplemented it so as to extend the procedural protections of § 42A to the two specific situations inserted by the amendment. [761-765]

The reassignment of an acting principal, who had served in that capacity for four consecutive school years, to a position of teacher was a demotion within the meaning of G. L. c. 71, § 42A, entitling him to the procedural protections prescribed by that statute. [765-767]

This is an appeal from an order of summary judgment and a judgment of dismissal entered against the plaintiff Robert A. Glennon (Glennon) by a Judge of the Superior Court. Mass. R. Civ. P. 56, 365 Mass. 824 (1974). Glennon contends that he was "demoted" from his position as acting principal at the Robert Gould Shaw Middle School (R. G. Shaw School) in Boston to a teaching position at another Boston school for a lesser salary in violation of the provisions of G. L. c. 71, § 42A. He seeks a declaration, pursuant to G. L. c. 231A, as to his status as principal and his salary rights. The defendant School Committee of Boston (school committee) claims that Glennon's transfer from the position of principal to teacher did not constitute a "demotion" within the meaning of G. L. c. 71, § 42A.

For the reasons stated below, we conclude that Glennon was "demoted" from his position as principal to that of a teacher in violation of the notice and hearing provisions of G. L. c. 71, § 42A. Consequently, we vacate the order of summary judgment and the judgment of dismissal entered against him, remand the case to the Superior Court, and order summary judgment to enter reinstating Glennon to the principal's position and reimbursing him for lost compensation accruing since his demotion.

The uncontested factual background of the case is as follows. In September, 1972, Glennon, who had been employed by the school committee since 1963, was designated and approved by the committee as an acting principal at the R. G. Shaw School in Boston. He served in that capacity for the four consecutive school years of 1972-1973, 1973-1974, 1974-1975, and 1975-1976, performing all duties of a public junior high or middle school principal in the Boston school system. In each of the four consecutive school years the school committee renewed his designation and assignment as acting principal. During the first three years, Glennon was paid a per diem amount above his base salary to perform the duties of principal. In the 1975-1976 school year, his salary was increased to the standard amount paid to principals in the Boston public schools. Apparently, Glennon's service during the four years in the acting principal's position was always satisfactory.

On March 16, 1976, the superintendent of the Boston public schools issued a circular announcing that promotional ratings were to be established for certain enumerated administrative positions including that of " PRINCIPAL, MIDDLE SCHOOL. . . R. G. Shaw . . . ." The circular indicated that the promotional ratings were to be established in response to an order of the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, ordering the desegregation of the administrative staff of the Boston school system. *fn1 Pursuant to the procedures outlined in the circular, Glennon applied for the principal's position at the R. G. Shaw School. His application stated in part: "As Principal of the Robert Gould Shaw Middle School, I wish to apply for the Promotional Rating which is to be established for that position. Since I have held this position for the past four years, it is my desire to continue as administrator of the Robert Gould Shaw Middle School." Glennon, however, was not recommended as a finalist for the principal's position.

On becoming aware that he would not be assigned as principal to the R. G. Shaw School, Glennon made several telephone calls during the summer of 1976 to the associate superintendent of schools in charge of personnel inquiring as to what his September, 1976, school assignment would be. Glennon was repeatedly informed that the associate superintendent could not yet make such a determination.

On July 29, 1976, Glennon filed a complaint in the Superior Court seeking a declaratory judgment as to his status and entitlements under G. L. c. 71, § 42A. He claimed that he had the status of a "principal, supervisor" under G. L. c. 71, § 42A, and that his differential salary could not be discontinued except in compliance with the statutory section. On September 2, 1976, Glennon was informed by the associate superintendent that, for the upcoming 1976-1977 school year, he was being assigned as a teacher to a Boston high school, and that he was to be paid a teacher's unit salary which was substantially less than his salary in the prior 1975-1976 school year. On September 9, 1976, the school committee filed its answer to Glennon's complaint. Although the school committee admitted many of Glennon's allegations, it raised the following defenses: (1) that Glennon failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted, (2) that the committee had acted in strict compliance with G. L. c. 71, § 42A, and (3) that Glennon had waived any rights he may have had under G. L. c. 71, § 42A, by consenting to the rating of the position of principal of the R. G. Shaw School. Thereafter, Glennon received a notice from the school committee, dated September 27, 1976, informing him that at a meeting of the committee on September 1, 1976, he was transferred to the position of a "teacher, secondary teacher in the West Roxbury High School," effective September 1, 1976.

Subsequently, both parties filed motions for summary judgment, which were supported by affidavits and exhibits. A hearing on the motions was held by a special master who, on May 20, 1977, found that there was "no genuine material factual issue in dispute" and he ruled in favor of the school committee. The special master reasoned that, because G. L. c. 71, § 42A, defines a demotion as "a reduction of salary 'contrary to the provisions of [G. L. c. 71] § 43,'" and that "§ 43 excepts Boston from the prohibition of the statute," Glennon was not demoted within the meaning of G. L. c. 71, § 42A.

Pursuant to the special master's recommendation, a Superior Court Judge allowed the school committee's motion for summary judgment, denied Glennon's motion, and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. Glennon appealed therefrom to ...


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