Massachusetts law about education

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on education and educational testing law.

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Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 15A, § 16A High demand targeted scholarship program

MGL c. 15A, § 46 Medication abortion readiness plans; amendment or revision; determination of adequacy of plan

MGL c. 69 Department of Education

  • MGL c. 69, § 1C National Child Nutrition Act and National School Lunch Program; minimum nutritional standards for school food services
    School meals are now free to Massachusetts students regardless of income.

MGL c. 71 Public schools

MGL c. 71, § 69 National flags and Pledge of Allegiance

MGL c. 71, § 94 Virtual schools

MGL c. 71A Bilingual education

MGL c. 71B Students with special needs

MGL c. 72 School registration

MGL c. 76 School attendance

MGL c. 271, § 50 Selling papers or taking exams for another

Old Deluder Satan law: Established mandatory public education in Massachusetts (1647)

St. 1993, c. 71 Education reform act

St. 2023, c. 28, § 80 Higher education COVID-19 limited liability
Colleges and universities are immune to civil liability for damages caused by campus closures and the transition to remote classes during the COVID-19 emergency.

Massachusetts regulations

555 CMR 10.00 Specialized certification for school resource officers

603 CMR Department of Education

606 CMR Department of Early Education and Care

Massachusetts Executive Orders

EO 393 Establishes the Educational Management Accountability Board to monitor the attainment of goals of the Education Reform Act

EO 410 Establishing the Governor's Design Team on Teacher Professional Development and Support

Selected cases

Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, 468 Mass. 64 (2014)
Discussion of the history of the pledge of allegiance and of Federal case law concluding that recitation of the pledge is a fundamentally patriotic exercise, not a religious one. Statement that no Massachusetts school student is required by law to recite the pledge of allegiance or to participate in the ceremony of which the pledge is a part.

Doe No. 1 v. Secretary of Education, 479 Mass. 375 (2018)
Law limiting the number of charter schools upheld. "The education clause provides a right for all the Commonwealth's children to receive an adequate education, not a right to attend charter schools."

Hancock v. Commissioner of Education, 443 Mass. 428 (2005)
The plaintiffs alleged that the Commonwealth was violating its constitutional obligation to educate children in poorer communities. The court declined to adopt the conclusion of a Superior Court judge that the Commonwealth was not meeting its obligation under the Massachusetts Constitution.

Massachusetts Federation of Teachers v. Board of Education, 436 Mass. 763 (2002)
The court upheld the Board's regulations that require mandatory assessment of math teachers in certain schools.

Millis Public Schools v. M.P., 478 Mass. 767 (2018)
Truancy. We conclude that a child "willfully fails to attend school" when he or she acts purposefully, such that his or her behavior arises from reasons portending delinquent behavior.." Even though her acts were voluntary and intentional, she desired to go to school and showed no tendencies toward juvenile delinquency. CRA judgment vacated.

Opinion of the Justices to the Governor, 372 Mass. 874 (1977) 
Public school teachers and students cannot be disciplined for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 600 U.S. 181 (2023)
Affirmative action. The Supreme Court held that  race-based (affirmative action) admissions programs at educational institutions are unconstitutional and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) 
Requiring students to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance violates First Amendment rights.

Federal law

20 USC 6301 et seq. No Child Left Behind Act

42 USC 11431 et seq. Education for homeless children and youth


Web sources

COVID-19 information and resources, Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Source for updated guidance and information on testing, frequent updates, mental health, meals, and teaching.

Education for homeless children and youths program: Non-regulatory guidance, U.S. Dept. of Education, 2018.
Homeless student guidance.

Educational rights of homeless children and youths under the McKinney-Vento Act, U.S. Dept. of Education, 2016.
Policy letter on homeless students' rights and protections.

Equal access to public education for all students irrespective of immigration status: Mass. Attorney General Advisory, March 2, 2017.
"State and federal law require state educational agencies and local school districts to provide all elementary and secondary students with equal access to public education—irrespective of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or immigration status."

EEC background record checks, Mass. Dept. of Early Education and Care.
The regulations require a review of both the criminal history (CORI) and the DSS background of all individuals age 15 and over who have the potential for unsupervised contact with children.

Massachusetts financial aid programs, Mass. Department of Higher Education.
Includes various educational grants, scholarships, tuition waivers and reimbursements, and loans.

MassReconnect, Mass. Department of Higher Education.
Free community college for students who are 25 years or older.

MCAS results, Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Student assessment, Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The latest info on MCAS, graduation requirements through 2025 and other alternative assessments with the latest updates here.

Student loan assistance, Mass. Attorney General.
"The Attorney General’s Student Loan Ombudsman is tasked with assisting Massachusetts student loan borrowers. The Ombudsman can help you obtain information about your loans, resolve disputes, get mistakes corrected, and explore your repayment options."

Students with comfort care/do not resuscitate orders, Mass. Dept. of Education, August 27, 2017.
"In response to requests from several Massachusetts school districts, the following guidelines for the care of students with Comfort Care/Do Not Resuscitate Orders were developed in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Office of Emergency Medicine and the MDPH Legal Office."

Supporting the success of homeless children and youths, US Dept. of Education, 2016.
A fact sheet with tips for teachers, principals, school leaders, counselors, and other school staff.

What is the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act?, Children's Law Center.
Explains educational rights of homeless children. "'McKinney-Vento,' is a federal law that requires each state to ensure that each homeless child or child of a homeless individual has access to the same education as other children, including public preschool programs. It also requires each state to revise all laws, regulations, practices or policies that may act as barriers to the enrollment, attendance, or success in school of homeless children and youths."

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Last updated: March 11, 2024

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