Court: Not OK for Lexington Teacher Accused of Sexual Harassment to Return

The Lexington physics teacher will not be allowed to return to the public schools.

Gavel. Credit: Patch file photo
Gavel. Credit: Patch file photo
This week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld Lexington School Committee's decision to let go a Lexington school teacher who was dismissed because of sexual harassment, reported Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. 

Physics teacher Mark Zagaeski was fired in 2011 for joking with a student that she could improve her grades through sexual favors. He was fired by Superintendent Paul Ash after the girl reported the incident, said EAG news. 

In April of 2012, the arbitrator argued that Zagaeski's accomplishments and overall performance outweighed the incident, and that he should be reinstated, ruling a two-day suspension. The arbitrator called the incident "relatively minor," and also argued that Zagaeski should get back pay for time out and his legal fees covered. Zageaski was in fact reinstated as a teacher, reported EAG News. 

In a split decision, the Supreme Court voted to override the decision and uphold the Lexington School Committee's initial decision to dismiss the physics teacher, according to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. 

Luanna Elena Devenis July 17, 2014 at 08:32 AM
It is about time that the actions of teachers are held to the same ethical and legal standards as the rest of us who work with minor children and are charged with their care, education, and protection; teachers should not be allowed to continue to hide behind the cloak of tenure and the protection of teachers' unions. Not only are teachers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandated reporters of child abuse, with sexual harassment being one form of abuse, teachers are in a position of power over their charges and should therefore use extra caution to avoid abuses in their relations with students. What Mr. Magaeski told the female student in his class was abusive, and he should suffer the consequences of his illegal actions--because sexual harassment is illegal--no matter how wonderful were his "accomplishments and overall performance." Have people learned nothing from the scandals in the Catholic church with the priests who were supposedly beyond reproach, but turned out to be pedophiles? Parents need to be more aware of what is going on in the classrooms of their children where incompetent and abusive teachers exercise undue influence over their charges due to an outmoded tenure system that is kept in place by powerful teachers' unions who are more concerned with their own salaries and benefits than they are with educating young people.
Linda Blare July 17, 2014 at 09:41 AM
John D July 18, 2014 at 02:20 AM
I'm amazed that he had the nerve to go forward with legal action. one would assume he would leave town in shame. the idiot arbitrator would not think it "relatively minor" if it had involved his daughter. another one who should be ashamed of himself.


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