Parochial School Allowed to Deny Renewal of Teacher’s Contract

Massachusetts court sides with school in employment suit.

Church Law and Tax 1993-01-01 Recent Developments


A Massachusetts court upheld the right of a church-operated school to not renew a teacher’s annual contract on the basis of her union organizing activities. A Catholic parochial school provided one-year contracts to its teachers. The contract of one teacher, who had received uniformly positive performance reviews, was not renewed by the school because of her efforts to organize teachers into a union. The teacher sued the church, claiming that she had been improperly terminated and that her rights had been violated. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts noted that the school offered one-year contracts to its teachers, and that it had the right to decline to renew a contract for virtually any reason. It observed: “The school’s decision not to reappoint the [teacher] was simply a determination, within its complete discretion, to discontinue a relationship that had expired by the terms of the contract.” For the same reason, the court rejected the teacher’s claim that her “termination” violated public policy or any state civil rights statute. Willitts v. Roman Catholic Archbishop, 581 N.E.2d 475 (Mass. 1991).

See Also: Discharge and Discipline of Teachers

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