Serrazina v. Springfield Public Schools (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-027-13)

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February 15, 2013.




School and School Committee, Arbitration, Suspension from employment, Termination of employment, Compensation of personnel.  Arbitration, School committee, Confirmation of award.  Damages, Back pay.  Labor, Arbitration.




When the plaintiff, Maria Serrazina, became the subject of a certain Federal indictment, the defendant school department suspended her, without pay under G. L. c. 268A, § 25, from her position as a school adjustment counselor.  Thereafter, she entered into a pretrial diversion agreement with Federal authorities, and the indictment ultimately was dismissed.  After Serrazina sought reinstatement, the school department terminated her employment pursuant to G. L. c. 71, § 42, and she filed a grievance challenging the termination.  An arbitrator ordered that she be reinstated.  Serrazina then commenced an action in the Superior Court seeking confirmation of the arbitration award, as well as back pay for the period of her suspension and the period between her termination and reinstatement.  A Superior Court judge affirmed the arbitration award reinstating Serrazina, but allowed the school department’s motion for summary judgment with respect to her back pay claims.  Serrazina appealed, challenging the denial of compensation.  The Appeals Court affirmed the denial with respect to the period between her termination and reinstatement, but reversed with respect to the period of her suspension.  Serrazina v. Springfield Pub. Schs., 80 Mass. App. Ct. 617 (2011).  We granted Serrazina’s application for further appellate review.



We have considered the parties’ arguments and thoroughly reviewed the record.  We agree with the result reached by the Appeals Court for substantially the same reasons.  The judgment of the Superior Court is reversed insofar as it denies Serrazina back pay for the period of her suspension beginning on August 10, 2004, and ending on October 22, 2007; it is otherwise affirmed.  The case is remanded for a calculation consistent with this opinion.


So ordered.


Maurice M. Cahillane (William E. Mahoney with him) for the defendant.

Timothy J. Ryan (Henry M. Downey with him) for the plaintiff.



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