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Pursuant to G.L. c 32 s. 16(4), the Petitioner, Robert V. McMullen, is appealing
from the January 9, 2008 decision of the Respondent, Teachers Retirement System
(TRS), denying his request to purchase non-public service from January 1975 through
March 1976. (Exhibit 1). The appeal was timely filed. (Exhibit 5). The Petitioner opted
to pursue his appeal without a hearing. (Exhibit 6). In lieu of a hearing at the Division of
Administrative Law Appeals (DALA), the parties submitted their respective cases on the
documents which have been marked as Exhibits 1-9. An Exhibit List has been provided
at page 4 of this Decision. The last of the submissions was received at DALA on
March 11, 2008, thereby closing the record.
Based upon the documents submitted in the above-entitled matter, I hereby render
the following findings of fact:
1. The Petitioner, Robert V. McMullen, is an active member of the Teachers'
Retirement System who intends to file for retirement in June 2008. (Exhibits 1 and 6).
2. From January 1975 through March 1976, the Petitioner was employed by
Helpmate, Inc. in the capacity of Youth Coordinator for the Town of Seekonk, MA.
(Exhibits 3, 5, 6 and 8).
3. Helpmate was a nonprofit community mental health agency funded by both
the Town of Seekonk and the Taunton Area Community Mental Health Program located
at Taunton State Hospital. The Petitioner's position was funded by a Division of Drug
Rehabilitation grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental
Health. The nonprofit corporation was established in the year 1971. The Certificate of
Incorporation was revoked on November 17, 1986. (Exhibits 3, 4, 8 and 9).
4. The Petitioner's wage and tax statements for the years 1975 and early 1976
reflect that Helpmate was his employer. (Exhibit 2).
5. The Petitioner first became a member of the TRS in October 1978.
6. In late 2007, the Petitioner requested to purchase his service as Youth
Coordinator in Seekonk in 1975 and 1976.
7. On January 9, 2008, the TRS denied the Petitioner's request. (Exhibit 1).
8. The Petitioner filed a timely appeal. (Exhibit 5).
The Petitioner is not entitled to prevail in this appeal. G.L. c. 32 s. 3(5) is
applicable to members of intra-state governmental units. The Petitioner's employer
from January 1975 through March 1976 was Helpmate, a private, non-profit corporation.
Notwithstanding the source of the grant, the Petitioner was an employee of a private
corporation. Helpmate's relationship to the Town of Seekonk was that of a private
contractor. This situation is in stark contrast to those cases where CETA workers and
other employees paid through grants have been allowed to purchase service. In those
cases, the governmental unit was the administrator of the grant. In this case, Helpmate
was the administrator of the grant under which the Petitioner was paid.
The TRS was correct in its decision letter that intra state service must have been
paid directly through a governmental body, not a private third party. The Petitioner
cannot avail himself of any provision of Section 3(5). The decision of the TRS is
Division of Administrative Law Appeals,
DATED: May 9, 2008
Exhibit No. Document description
1 - Decision letter January 9, 2008
2 - 1975 and 1976 W-2 forms
3 - Nonconfidential statement December 24, 1976
4 - Helpmate incorporation
5 - Letter of Appeal January 14, 2008
6 - Letter waiving hearing February 2, 2008
7 - Letter from Administrative Magistrate to parties
February 7, 2008
8 - Letter from Philip Shea February 11, 2008
9 - 1975 and 1976 Seekonk Annual Reports