Mark J. Sommaruga is chair of the firm's School Law section, and is a member of the Labor, Employment Law and Employee Benefits Department. Mark has provided legal counsel to Connecticut municipalities and school boards, other public sector clients, and private sector clients for almost 25 years. His extensive experience with these clients includes labor, employment, education, civil rights, special education, municipal law, construction law, tort matters, workers' compensation, and assorted other litigation in the state and federal courts on both the trial and appellate court levels, as well as before various state and federal agencies such as the State of Connecticut and U.S. Departments of Education, the Connecticut Department of Labor (including the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration), the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, along with the American Arbitration Association. He is routinely involved in representing clients in all stages of collective bargaining.
Mark also has extensive experience in counseling public and private clients on various labor and employment law and education law issues. He routinely advises clients on a wide range of employment matters relating to hiring, supervision, evaluation, discipline and termination, compensation, “restrictive covenants,” family and medical leave issues, sexual harassment, accommodations, discrimination issues, and various personnel policies and procedures. He also routinely counsels school district clients on a wide variety of education law issues relating to student discipline, special education, discrimination, abuse/neglect, residency/school accommodations, and policy review, along with counseling clients in disputes with vendors and contractors and with other municipal and state agencies.
Mark is the author of Understanding the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act and Access to Public Meetings and Records (Fourth Edition, 2013), which is published by the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE). He has been a participant in and presenter at numerous workshops, seminars and conferences on municipal, FOIA, education, special education, labor and employment law issues, including those sponsored by the Connecticut Bar Association and the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. He is a frequent presenter at the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education’s annual convention. He has written numerous articles on employment law and school law issues in various trade journals and newsletters and is a regular contributor to the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Journal and The Connecticut Law Tribune. He currently conducts Legal Issues Forums for Connecticut Charter Schools with attorney Zachary D. Schurin and Special Education Legal Issues Forums with attorney Michael P. McKeon. He is also a member of the Firm’s Diversity Committee.
- Successfully represented school districts in three recent state court cases concerning the conduct of a referendum, winning at the trial court level and (in one of the cases) prevailing before the Connecticut Supreme Court in a case of first impression
- Successfully represented a regional educational service center with respect to claims of pregnancy discrimination at the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals
- Successfully represented the interests of several school districts with regard to their obligation to pay pre-school magnet school tuition, saving Connecticut school districts several million dollars per year
- Successfully represented charter school management organizations at the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission with respect to the applicability of the FOIA
- Successfully represented school districts in several cases of first impression at the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals regarding special education issues (“least restrictive environment," exhaustion of administrative remedies, use of independent evaluations, and attorneys’ fees)
- Successfully represented a school district in a recent state court trial concerning retiree health insurance benefits
- Successfully represented clients in litigation regarding the award of construction contracts and bidding procedures
- Connecticut Bar Association - chairman of Legislative Subcommittee and member of the Executive Committee, Labor and Employment Section; Education Law Section
- Hartford County Bar Association - chairman, Education Law Committee
- National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys
- Connecticut Council of School Attorneys - past president
- Oliver Ellsworth Inn of Court
- The Bridge Academy - member of the Board of Directors and former Corporate Secretary