Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
The Legal Office of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) advises the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), Commissioner, and DESE staff on issues of education law, policy, and administration; works with the Attorney General’s Office on litigation; and oversees the Office of Professional Practice Investigations (OPPI).
The Licensure Counsel II position in the Legal Office will join the OPPI team of lawyers and investigators who investigate alleged misconduct by applicants for licensure and licensees. Lawyers will prosecute these cases in administrative adjudicatory hearings, negotiate settlements, and carry out other related duties.
The Licensure Counsel reports to a Licensure Counsel III and works closely with the Deputy General Counsel and Associate Commissioner of Investigations that oversee the work of OPPI. The Licensure Counsel investigates alleged misconduct by licensed educators and applicants for a Massachusetts Educator License; evaluates the evidence gathered; prepares legal memoranda regarding relevant facts, applicable law, and disciplinary options; and represents Educator Licensure and OPPI in administrative adjudicatory proceedings before the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee, including the Division of Administrative Law Appeals. The Licensure Counsel also assists in providing guidance to school and district leaders in the areas of student protection and educator development, consistent with DESE regulations and applicable federal and state laws.
The selected candidate will perform the following duties:
· in conjunction with the Associate Commissioner of Investigations and the OPPI team, investigate and evaluate cases of alleged misconduct by licensed educators; interview witnesses; gather and review available evidence; research applicable law and consult with relevant experts; and coordinate with school districts and law enforcement agencies, investigatory and prosecutorial staff of the Attorney General and District Attorneys’ Offices, and investigators from other jurisdictions and agencies relating to educator discipline;
· prepare legal memoranda to the Commissioner or his designee outlining the relevant evidence gathered, the applicable law, and a recommendation for license action;
· prepare letters to show cause and notices of probable cause;
· represent Educator Licensure, OPPI, and DESE in adjudicatory hearings before the Commissioner or his designee, including the Division of Administrative Law Appeals; manage all phases of hearings including determining a reliable and appropriate legal basis and strategy to be used in bringing cases to resolution, determining which evidence and witnesses to present at hearing, preparing witnesses for testifying, researching and drafting motions and other documents related to hearings, negotiating with opposing counsel, and presenting DESE’s case at hearing. In an informed and competent manner: present the relevant evidence and testimony; effectively advocate; and draft pleadings, motions, and memoranda;
· collaborate with colleagues to formulate recommendations for the Commissioner regarding policies, legislative changes, and regulatory changes; and make recommendations concerning best professional practices to protect students and to evaluate and investigate educator misconduct;
· manage caseload independently in an efficient and effective manner, appropriately prioritizing work and meeting deadlines;
· meet regularly with other DESE legal staff and with OPPI;
· provide recommendations on the course of action to be taken on individual licensure matters to the General Counsel or her designee;
· provide guidance and training for school district leaders and others in educator conduct issues and investigative techniques, and assist in developing materials to guide school districts in investigating incidents of misconduct;
· represent the Commissioner and General Counsel at statewide and national meetings as needed;
· communicate and coordinate as necessary with other agencies including various District Attorneys’ offices, the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Children and Families, the State Police, the Office of Inspector General and the Office of State Auditor, the U.S. Department of Education Inspector General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS);
· perform other duties as assigned by the General Counsel or her designee, or the Commissioner; and
· based on assignment, travel throughout the Commonwealth is required for investigative interviews, court appearances, and other court and investigative matters. Travel to regional and/or national conferences may be required.
The qualified candidate will possess:
• three (3) or more years of experience practicing law
• excellent analytical, legal research and writing skills;
• successful experience in the practice of law, including experience with some or all of the following: administrative adjudicatory hearings, prosecuting and trying criminal cases, and license revocation cases;
• strong interpersonal skills, including ability to establish rapport, motivate, and maintain positive and productive relationships with colleagues and clients from diverse backgrounds;
• ability to understand, apply, and explain the provisions of the laws, rules, regulations, policies, procedures, specifications, standards, and guidelines governing educator misconduct investigations;
• ability to process and assimilate detailed factual information presented orally or in writing;
• ability to understand the context for and implications of individual licensure matter, and exercise sound judgment;
• excellent communication skills, orally and in writing, including ability to write and present clear, detailed reports and investigative documentation as required;
• ability to strategize and work with others to solve problems;
• ability to handle matters with mature judgment and discretion;
• strong organizational skills, including ability to manage complex tasks and meet deadlines
Staff are currently working a hybrid schedule, at least 2 days in the office.
Questions regarding this posting or the application process should be referred to Maureen O’Brien at Maureen.T.O’Brien@mass.gov
As of January 2, 2024, this position will be based at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Everett.
The new address is: 135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149.
First consideration will be given to those applicants that apply within the first 14 days.
MINIMUM ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS: Applicants must have a Juris Doctor (JD) degree, admission to the Massachusetts Bar and (A) at least three years of full-time, or equivalent part-time, professional experience in the practice of law.
Incumbents may be required to have a current and valid Motor Vehicle Drivers License at a Class level specific to assignment.
When you embark on a career with the Commonwealth, you are offered an outstanding suite of employee benefits that add to the overall value of your compensation package. We take pride in providing a work experience that supports you, your loved ones, and your future.
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An Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer. Females, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.
The Commonwealth is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, national origin, veteran status, or any other basis covered by appropriate law. Research suggests that qualified women, Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC) may self-select out of opportunities if they don’t meet 100% of the job requirements. We encourage individuals who believe they have the skills necessary to thrive to apply for this role.
Official Title: Counsel II
Primary Location: United States-Massachusetts-Everett – 135 Santilli Highway
Job: Legal Services
Agency: Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Job Posting: Jan 4, 2024, 8:47:22 AM
Number of Openings: 1
Salary: 77,887.68 – 112,548.54 Yearly
If you have Diversity, Affirmative Action or Equal Employment Opportunity questions or need a Reasonable Accommodation, please contact Diversity Officer / ADA Coordinator: CaroleA.Corthell@mass.gov – 7813386204
Bargaining Unit: 06-NAGE – Professional Admin.
Potentially Eligible for a Hybrid Work Schedule: Yes
To apply for this job please visit massanf.taleo.net.