Arbitrator can't force Roxbury Community College to give a professor another shot at tenure, court rules

The Supreme Judicial Court today overturned an arbitrator's ruling that the college had to give a social-sciences professor a second crack at tenure after it told him he would be terminated.

The state's highest court ruled that language in the college's contract with professors gave it the right to decide who gets tenure and that the college president had the right to terminate Virgilio Acevedo for low enrollment in his classes, high withdrawal rates among those students who did sign up for them and poor evaluations by those who remained.

Acevedo appealed and an arbitrator ruled the college's decision was "unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious" because enrollment rates were not covered in the contract and because he found the college didn't treat Acevedo the same as other professors on the tenure track.

The court, however, said that state law limits the authority of arbitrators over tenure decisions in general. Although public colleges can waive that, the court said RCC's collective-bargaining agreement with professors clearly did not and that the arbitrator's ruling therefore was merely advisory.

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