Education

Today's educational institutions face a range of complex legal issues at least as broad as those faced by highly-regulated industries. Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP has one of the most extensive education law practices in New England. The firm represents over 80 school committees, public school districts, colleges and universities and private schools. Its diverse school clientele ranges from large cities and towns to smaller communities and educational collaboratives. The firm's attorneys have the expertise, experience and resources to service all of their legal needs, including collective bargaining, special education, arbitrations, litigation and the full range of current legal issues, including student rights and discipline, service contracts, discrimination, the impact of Education Reform, and all statutory issues.

A significant part of the Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP education law practice is in the field of special education. In this area, the firm has counseled over 200 school committees on the adequacy of programs under Chapter 766 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It has represented clients in hearings and litigation arising under these and other statutes.

The firm has concentrated in education law for more than 25 years, and can provide first-rate, comprehensive legal services efficiently and cost-effectively. The firm emphasizes a preventive maintenance approach, based upon our strong belief that proper legal advice prevents problems before they occur. The firm devotes a considerable part of our practice to assisting our clients in anticipating problems and avoiding costly disputes and litigation through client training and communication.

The firm's experience in the field of education enables us to provide our clients with a broad range of services in such operation and legal matters as:

  • All facets of labor and employment including hiring, tenure, discipline, termination and collective bargaining.
  • Issues pertaining to the powers and duties of administrators and school committees, and matters of governance.
  • Interrelationships among the school, municipal, state and federal government relative to a number of issues including school finance.
  • All facets of special education and education of persons with disabilities including section 504 and the ADA.
  • Training and staff development.
  • Evaluation of staff.
  • Accreditation processes.
  • Constitutional questions covering all curricular and disciplinary topics such as student rights, academic freedom, church/state dilemmas and due process.
  • Plant operation functions such as procurement, construction, facilities development and contract negotiations with service providers.
  • Representation in agency, court and appellate litigation.
     

If you have specific questions regarding our Special Education practice's capabilities, please contact:

Mary Ellen Sowyrda
(617) 479-5000
msowyrda@mhtl.com
or
Regina W. Tate
(617) 479-5000
gtate@mhtl.com

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Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce: Labor & Law Employment Update

MHTL attorneys Katherine Hesse and Kier Wachterhauser will be presenting information regarding important legal issues and developments in the Labor & Employment field at a Neponset Valley Chamber of Commerce (NVCC) event on Thursday, November 15th.  These presentations will include a comprehensive overview of major legislative/regulatory/case law developments, as well as best practices in navigating issues such as marijuana in the workplace and sexual harassment.

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Supreme Judicial Court Issues Important Decision Protecting Employers – Back Pay Awards Do Not Constitute “Wages” Under the Wage Act and Thus Are Not Subject To Trebling

In a recent decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC” or “Court”) declined to classify a court-ordered “back pay” award as “wages” under the Massachusetts Wage Act (“Wage Act”).   In response to a request for briefs from the Court, Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP (MHTL), on behalf of its public and private clients, submitted an amicus brief, supporting the defendant employer’s position.   The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the New England Legal Foundation also submitted amici briefs.  This decision – a significant victory for employers – has far-reaching consequences and helps to protect employers from punitive and excessive penalties in many employment contexts.  Had the case been decided for the plaintiffs, it could have had significant ramifications for employers, extending the punitive damage scheme under the Wage Act (strict liability, treble damages, attorneys’ fees, individual liability, etc.) to a myriad of different employment contexts.

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