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MCPSA Urges Massachusetts State Senators to Preserve Qualified Immunity Language in the Reform, Shift, and Build Act

Date Published: July 13, 2020

Author: Tim Nicolette

Massachusetts Charter Public School Association Urges Massachusetts State Senators to Preserve Qualified Immunity Language in the Reform, Shift, and Build Act

BOSTON, MAJuly 13, 2020 – The Massachusetts Charter Public School Association (MCPSA) sent a letter today to Senate President Karen Spilka’s office to express its support for preserving the qualified immunity language in the Senate’s Reform, Shift, and Build Act (Bill S. 2800).

The full text of the letter can be found below.

 

July 13, 2020

Senate President Karen Spilka
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Senate President Spilka,

As the Association representing over 74 of Massachusetts’ charter public schools, we are writing to express our support for preserving the qualified immunity language as written in Senate bill 2800 (the Reform, Shift, and Build Act)

As you may know, Massachusetts’ charter public schools serve approximately 5% of all of the Commonwealth’s public school students, but 15% of the state’s Black public school students. Our collective mission is to ensure that all students, especially historically underserved students, have access to a high-quality public education. And the truth is that while striving to deliver on the promise of educational equity is vitally important, unfortunately, it is not enough. Every day we are reminded that no matter what our Black students achieve in their lives, until we as a society are successful in fundamentally transforming our institutions, policies, and laws, our Black students’ minds, self-worth, and bodies will continually be subjected to harm.

This is why we applaud and support the Senate’s proposed language in S. 2800 around qualified immunity, which seeks to further amend Chapter 12 of the General Laws by striking out section 11I, as it appears in the 2018 Official Edition, and inserting in its place proposed new language, including, but not limited to, a new section that states: “in an action under this section, qualified immunity shall not apply to claims for monetary damages except upon a finding that, at the time the conduct complained of occurred, no reasonable defendant could have had reason to believe that such conduct would violate the law.”

This bill, and its language around limiting qualified immunity, represents a critical first step in eliminating barriers to accountability, and restoring the ability of all of our state’s citizens to obtain relief when state and local officials, including police officers, violate their legal and constitutionally secured rights. 

We urge all members of the Massachusetts State Senate to support this legislation, so that we may become the second state in the country to limit the principle of qualified immunity. The time for action is now, and we stand by to support the preservation of this language in any way we can.

Thank you, as always, for your leadership.

Sincerely,

Tim Nicolette
Executive Director, Massachusetts Charter Public School Association

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The Massachusetts Charter Public School Association (MCPSA) is a school membership organization representing 74+ schools that is committed to ensuring that children and families of the Commonwealth have access to high-quality public schools. As the voice of one of the nation’s highest-performing charter public school sectors, MCPSA engages in public policy advocacy, communications, and best practice sharing and training aimed at strengthening educational programming.