Public Education Legal Update
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New Municipal Relief Act has Important Provisions for School District Service Contracts and Emergency Educator Licensing
Governor Baker recently signed into law “An Act Relative to Municipal Governance During the COVID-19 Emergency”, Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2020. The Act contains multiple provisions relevant to school districts.

First, the Act formalizes the approach taken by most school districts with respect to their bus contracts and other service providers by specifically allowing school districts to make payments to vendors notwithstanding the provisions of General Laws Chapter 41, sections 52 and 56, which prohibit payments for services not rendered. This provision is limited to contracts for services that could not be performed due to COVID-19.

Further, the Act requires that before any payment is made to such a contracted service provider, the contracted service provider must provide a sworn statement reporting grants, discounted loans or other financial support that the service provider has received from the state, federal or local government as a result of COVID-19, or a statement that the vendor received no such support. The Act also provides that the amount of any payment to such a contracted service provider shall not result in a windfall. Given school districts have likely made final payments for most, if not all, such service contracts, we recommend requesting a statement from any such service provider as to the amount of state, federal and local government grants, discounted loans or other financial support received to ensure no refund is due.

Notably, the contracted service provision only applies for fiscal year 2020, ending on June 30. As such, school districts may need to revisit such service contracts once plans for a fall reopening are established.

Second, the Act also authorizes DESE to create a new Emergency Educator License for those educators who have a bachelor’s degree, but were prevented from completing the testing, demonstration of subject matter knowledge, coursework or program requirements required for an educator’s license due to
COVID-19. Emergency Educator Licenses are only available for individuals seeking their first academic or vocational teacher, specialist teacher, administrator or professional support license. Any time worked solely under an Emergency Educator License does not count toward Professional Teacher Status. Emergency Educator Licenses will only be valid until June 30, 2021, unless the Commissioner establishes procedures providing otherwise.

The Act also contains multiple provisions with regard to municipal elections, town meetings, budgetary appropriations in cities and appropriations to stabilization funds. Please see our prior update on these issues here .

Please contact any member of our Public Education Team if you have any questions.
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