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Title: William Kritsonis, School Law, Ch 10 Liabilities Teachers


1
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and
Supervisors William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
2
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and
Supervisors William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
3
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Can I be held liable?, is the question asked by
    educators more than others..

4
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Legal liabilities can be seperated into two
    different distinct catagories, criminal law and
    civil law. Most civil cases involve a lawsuit
    brought by one person against another, usually
    seeking monotary damages.

5
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • All teachers and administrators have a legal and
    professional liability that are governed by the
    law of torts or civil law in relation to their
    duty of care for students. A tort is a wrong
    committed by one person against another.

6
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Under Criminal law sovereign immunity is applied.
    Sovereign immunity is the doctrine that states
    the sovereign or state cannot commit a legal
    wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal
    prosecution, the king (or queen) can do no wrong.
    Government entities, such as school districts and
    its employees, are immune from liabilities due to
    the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

7
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Unless motor vehicles are involved, a school
    district and its employees are shielded by Texas
    law from tort liability. A clear cut example of
    the law shielding a district and its employee is
    seen in the 1978 Barr v. Bernhard case.

8
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Public school professional employees are covered
    by a provision called qualified immunity which is
    provided by the Texas Education Code.

9
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • The specific provision, found at TEC 22.0511
    provides in part that a professional employee of
    a school district is not personally liable for
    any act that is incident to or within the scope
    of the duties of the employees position of
    employment and that involves the exercise of
    judgment or discretion on the part of the
    employee.

10
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Professional employees include superintendents,
    principals, teachers, subs, supervisors, social
    workers, counselors, nurses, student teachers,
    DPS certified bus drivers, school board members,
    teachers employed by a third party that contracts
    with the school district, and anyone else who is
    required to certification and an exercise of
    discretion.

11
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • When employees step outside of their protective
    zone they loose their immunity. The immunity
    conferred upon Texas public school employees by
    the qualified immunity statue is not automatic.
    Protection from civil liability is weakest when
    hands-on discipline is involved.

12
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Federal lawsuits filed against school districts
    and their employees are referred to as Section
    1983 suits. This law was designed to protect the
    civil rights of citizens while providing a broad
    basis for litigation in federal court.

13
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Section 1983 suits involve a charge of an abuse
    of governmental authority that deprives someone
    (teacher, student) of federally protected rights.

14
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • The rights can range from infringing upon a
    students rights of his Fourth Amendment to an
    employees First Amendment rights to speak as a
    citizen on matters of public concern

15
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • The law states that if a person making a
    decision is characterized as a policy-maker for
    the governmental entity, then that persons
    action is attributable to the governmental
    entity.

16
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • Another legal liability of employees and
    supervisors is the federal statutory law.
    Liability under federal statutory law of section
    22.0511 states that a professional employee of a
    school district is not personally liable for any
    act that is incident to or within the scope of
    the duties of the employees position of
    employment.

17
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • In conclusion, Texas public school educators are
    shielded by state law from tort suits as long as
    they are acting in the scope of their duties and
    are exercising discretion.

18
Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors
  • On the other hand, educators in Texas have no
    immunity from violations of criminal law. The
    professional employee is only vulnerable to
    damage suits in disciplinary matters or in the
    operation, use, or maintenance of a motor
    vehicle.

19
Works Cited and References
  • Alberta Teachers Association. Training in
    Liability Issues and
  • its Potential for Enhancing Working
    Conditions. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from
    http//www.teachers.ab.ca/Templates/Secondary
  • Page.aspx? NRMODEPublishedNRNO.
  • Blank, S. (2006). Teachers' Rights,
    Responsibilities, and Legal Liabilities.
    Edmonton, CA Barnett House.
  • Walsh, J., Kemerer, F., Maniotis, L. (2005).
    The Educator's Guide to Texas School Law (6th
    ed.). Austin University of Texas Press.
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