As you may recall, MASA conducted our annual survey of the membership in September. The results of the survey are available on our web site. One area of the results that drew my attention was the feedback regarding the legal support benefit provided by our association. It was evident that there is a segment of our members who are unaware of the legal support MASA provides to our members. I’d like to share a few examples where MASA provides legal support.
At times, a Board might want to end the contract relationship with our member. This can occur prior to the expiration of the contract. In that type of case an attorney works with us to secure as positive a financial settlement as possible. We always work to maintain the professional integrity and reputation of our member. We want to ensure that they are in a good position to seek another position if they wish.
Other times, a Board may conduct an investigation regarding the actions of a member that could result in disciplinary action. We work with an attorney to represent our member during the investigation.
Lastly, there are times when someone files a complaint with the Board of School Administrators (BOSA) involving a member. Again, we work with an attorney to represent our member during those proceedings.
Of course there could be other situations that might necessitate the need for legal support for a member. I do want to clarify that our legal support does not include situations where our member chooses to file some type of legal action against a district or individual. If a member wanted to do this, they would need to secure their own legal representation.
Legal support is available to any active MASA member. It is important to note that if our member seeking legal support is supervised by another MASA member, and the supervising member is involved in the issue, MASA has processes in place to build a fire wall between those interests. MASA will protect each member’s benefits and rights throughout the process.
The amount of financial support a member is entitled to depends upon their years of membership in MASA. A first year member of MASA is entitled to $700 in support. A member receives an additional $500 of support for each additional year of consecutive membership, up to a maximum of 10 years. That would equal a maximum of $5,200 for a member who has ten years of consecutive membership.
The process to gain legal support begins with our member contacting me. We thoroughly review the situation, I explain the available benefit and our member makes the decision on whether they want to access the MASA support or not. If a member wants to proceed, I have an attorney contact them. The attorney explains the process in order for our member to retain them. If our member wants to proceed, the attorney sends them the retainer letter and MASA sends the person a letter identifying the amount of legal support that MASA will provide. It is important to note, that once the MASA financial support is exhausted, the member is responsible for any additional attorney fees.
It is also important to note that if a member is a member of AASA, they can request legal support from AASA. The AASA legal support is also based on a member’s consecutive years of membership. For each year of consecutive service up to ten years a person may be able to access $1,000 per year. I provide the contact for AASA and our member makes the decision on if they want to pursue this avenue.
I hope this does not sound confusing. I work closely with every member that accesses our legal benefit. I know these can be very trying situations to experience. You will not walk that journey on your own; your professional association will be with you every step of the way.
As always please contact me at (651) 319-1211 or firstname.lastname@example.org if I can ever be of service to you! •