Labor Laws Governing Substitute Teachers In Ma

Substitute teachers play a vital role in public and private schools.

Working as a substitute teacher is a great way to learn about the profession. It offers teachers the opportunity to work with school-aged children while offering the flexibility of exploring various districts and schools. Requirements for substitute teachers vary greatly from state to state. Some only require some education coursework while others demand a full degree and teaching certificate. Massachusetts sets out some very straightforward guidelines as to who can employ a substitute teacher, the qualification requirements for substitute teachers and how long they can work in one district.


Massachusetts sets limits as to who can employ the services of a substitute teacher. The school can employ the substitute directly in an emergency situation for a maximum of 10 school days. If the appointment is to exceed 10 days then the school must seek the approval of its department of education. If the department approves the substitute for the extended length of time the school may only employ them for that designated time period.


The Department of Education for the State of Massachusetts set a goal that all public school children in Massachusetts be taught by highly qualified teaching staff by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. This was to make Massachusetts compliant with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. In order to qualify for the highly qualified status teachers could complete one of several tasks. Elementary teachers could pass the Test for Educator License at the elementary level or complete an approved professional development plan aligned with the High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation. Secondary teachers could earn the status by passing the Test for Educator License in their subject areas, or they could complete a college degree, college minor, graduate degree or advanced certificate in their subject area.

The State Board of Education recommends that substitute teachers in Massachusetts gain this status as well. Massachusetts state law does require that school districts inform parents if their child is being taught by a substitute teacher that isn’t highly qualified if the teaching period exceeds four weeks.

Security Checks

Most districts in the state of Massachusetts require employment eligibility checks and CORI criminal background checks. Employment eligibility checks are done using an I-9 form to determine if the applicant is legally allowed to work in the United States. Substitute teachers that are applying to specific districts are advised to start this process early as a CORI criminal background check can take up to two weeks to complete. The substitute teacher also must be present at the time of the CORI application.