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Ch 3 Legal Issues Affecting Teachers

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1 Ch 3 Legal Issues Affecting Teachers
The relationship Between Law & Education Constitutional Provisions – does not mention education States responsible for education code Federal government is involved in disputes Several Layers – depends on type of case Very different from state to state

2 Sources of Laws Relating to Education
Written Constitution - + amendments Highest legal standard, intent is problem Statue Law – State Education Code & State certification Requirements – elected Administrative Law – operationalize statues, interpret rules, policies, procedures, and regulations at the local level Court-Decision Law – the ultimate check of schools – applies constitutional law to statues and administrative law,

3 Teacher Certification
Each state has own requirements May accept other states certification Issued by the state Must have certificate to accept contract Must stay current after accepting Without a certificate a teacher can be considered a volunteer an not be paid in monetary units.

4 Gaining Employment Pre-Employment State and Federal laws govern process used in screening applicants for positions. Questions asked of applicants must have a demonstrated relationship to the job. Most states have laws that restrict what school personnel can ask teacher candidates during interviews.

5 Some laws require that these questions not be asked of applicant.
Marital status, Pregnancy, Age, Religious preferences, Sex, Race, National origin, Color, Presence of handicap. Some laws apply to public as well as private educational institutions.

6 Title VII of Civil rights Act 1964
It promotes equal opportunity in employment through administrative and judicial enforcement of the federal civil rights.(http://www.eeoc.gov/overview.html)

7 Title VII of Civil rights Act 1964
It promotes equal opportunity in employment through administrative and judicial enforcement of the federal civil rights.(http://www.eeoc.gov/overview.html)

8 Others apply only to public intuitions.
This is a complex area of the law. Example: A private religious school can legally give preference to individuals with a particular religious affiliation if such affiliation is required for school to fulfill its mission statement. Key questions asked by employers:

9 Teacher Contracts Most important document Sets responsibilities
Sign only one Must be written, approved by the board Benefits and bonuses - Extra duty

10 Breaking Contract? Good for only one year at a time Teacher may be dismissed without explanation Often, part of probation

11 Tenure and Continuing Employment
“Tenure gives teachers employment rights that cannot be altered at the whim of school officials, school must prove Tenure came about to protect teachers from groups who wish to fire them because of differences in what should be taught in the classroom. supposed to keep good teachers in the same school, granted after 3 years

12 Do Tenure programs keep bad teachers in school systems also?
A study done in 1994 by the New York State School Boards Association found that it takes 455 days and $176,870 on average for a school board to fire a teacher in that state, but $317,000 if the teacher appeals.

13 6 Ways Teachers Could Lose Their Jobs
Incompetence: includes lack of knowledge, failure to adapt to new teaching methods, violation of school rules, persistent negligence Incapacity: any physical or mental condition that keeps a teacher from performing assigned duties An article in the ERIC Clearinghouse on Education cites the three main reasons for teacher dismissal as immorality, incompetence, and insubordination. ERIC_NO: ED TITLE: Good Cause Basis for Dismissal of Education Employees. AUTHOR: Landauer, W. Lance; And Others PUBLICATION_DATE: 1983

14 Insubordination: willful violation of reasonable school rules and policies
Conduct: insulting fellow teachers, taking time off without permission, drinking to excess, and even telling wrestlers to lie about their weights when registering for meets

15 Immorality: criminal activity, sexual misconduct, drug use, and dishonesty
Other Causes: intemperance, neglect of duty, cruelty, and willful misconduct Must be given Due Process!!!

16 Professional Rights & Responsibilities
Reporting Child Abuse A teacher is in a position, where they can spot young people who have been abused. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws that make mandatory the reporting of suspected instances of child abuse.

17 As a result of a teacher being in the position of spotting child abuse, they are designated “mandatory reporters.” Teachers have a legal obligation to report any given instance of suspected child abuse.

18 If any suspected cases are NOT reported, teacher may face up to six months in jail, and/or a $1,000 fine. Teachers need not to fear retribution as a consequence of reporting potential child abuse. All states provide some type of protection from lawsuits for reports of child abuse.

19 Many states include a provision to pay for an attorney for a suit filed against of teacher for reporting suspected child abuse. In most cases of reporting child abuse, the teacher reporting the case will not have his/her name given out to the public.

20 Teachers may not be disciplined by employer for reporting suspected child abuse, unless it is reported for malicious reasons. According to the prevent child abuse website, each year over 3,000,000 cases of child abuse are reported.

21 Academic Freedom The idea is that teachers and learners should be able to inquire about any topic, even one that its highly controversial. Courts generally support the teacher’s rights

22 The School board has the right to prohibit certain texts or materials.
Not all look at academic freedom as a positive thing Who decides? Birth control, religious beliefs, army recruiter

23 Grading Courts find teachers qualified to assess grades.
Courts are reluctant to overturn teachers grading decisions. To avoid “arbitrary grading”: Have clear grading scale. Keep accurate records. Do not lower grades as a punishment for nonacademic misbehavior

24 Teachers’ Tort Liability
Tort—civil wrongdoing, not criminal Involve an injury against another person that resulted from a breach of legal duty. Torts are settled with some kind of award Torts against teachers have been increasing in numbers Tort laws are based on common law and the concept of fault or intent.

25 In tort cases, finding do not need to prove fault “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Questions that are relevant to injury-related suits against teachers include: Did the teacher have a duty of care under the law to avoid the injury? If so, was the duty breached? If a breach of legal duty occurred, was it the proximate cause of the injury.

26 Use of Force in Discipline
INGRAHAM V. WRIGHT (1977) can use reasonable but not excessive force WHAT IS REASONABLE FORCE? HOW SEVERE, AGE, GENDER, PUNISHER’S SIZE, ATTITUDE

27 STATE AND LOCAL REGULATIONS – decided by locals
STRICT GUIDELINES LEGAL ACTION – Not protected

28 What is Negligence? Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm from coming to someone. Someone can be found guilty of negligence without intending to inflict harm. Gross negligence is an act in reckless disregard of the consequences affecting the life or property of another

29 3 Kinds of Negligence Misfeasance- a teacher acts unwisely or without taking proper safeguards. Nonfeasance- a failure to act, by being away from their assigned area. Malfeasance- behavior that is undertaken deliberately and knowingly to harm another.

30 How to Protect Yourself
Have a basic understanding of what creates liability Foresee and prevent the conditions that give rise to injury Keep informed of specific ways to avoid liability and make operations safer Join groups promoting safety

31 Malpractice Conditions that might lead to a malpractice suit:
A failure to bring achievement up to satisfactory levels An injury to the development of the learner A failure to act to protect a seriously threatened learner

32 Courts Say In The Matter
The courts say there are other factors than teachers that affect achievement levels: Home backgrounds Motivational levels Appropriate materials and resources provided

33 Slander & Libel Does not have to be physical harm
False statements that expose a student to contempt, ridicule, or disgrace may harm Spoken called ______, written called _____ Care in writing comments, only observations – this person is a thief If malicious intent?

34 Sexual Harassment More litigations that ever
Care in working with learners outside of class or school School can be held if notified Also can be held for learner to learner case Can not ignore, anymore

35 Teachers’ Civil Rights
In the past there has been many restrictions on teachers’ lives away from school. Today, there are few restrictions. There have been court cases centered on the personal rights of teachers. Some people believe that teachers are role models, so they have a responsibility to behave better than “typical” citizens

36 Teachers’ Civil Rights
The courts have ruled that teachers can not be punished for exercising their constitutional rights. when teachers have been dismissed because of actions in their personal lives, the school district had to present convincing evidence that the behavior was having a negative impact on their performance in the classroom.

37 Teachers’ Civil Rights
One exception to teachers’ rights is when they work in a religious setting. The church that controls the school has “the right to discriminate on the basis of marital status, family/parental status, sexual orientation, race, or religion”

38 Freedom of Association
Can/should schools be allowed to dismiss teachers if they belong to radical organizations? -political -relation to a school board member

39 Why and Why Not? If a teacher supports illegal activities
If a teacher tries to indoctrinate students If the teacher’s support is disruptive Courts’ rulings on freedom of speech even in the workplace

40 Summary Teachers should not be dismissed for their support of political organizations or school board members as long as they do not manipulate students, seriously disrupt the teaching process, or support illegal action.

41 Freedom of Conscience The separation of church and state is the main concern in this subject, which leads to problems. Teachers may have different religious backgrounds, and express to students different views. Teachers who share their views are frowned upon by society.

42 What do Teachers Think? Many court cases regarding teacher dress code!
When the teachers fail to follow the dress code, what happens? Teachers have taken these issues to court Do you think this is appropriate?

43 Court Rulings Teacher rights
The court usually rules in favor of the teachers unless the teacher can prove unreasonable regulation Grooming standards negatively affect matters associated with racial pride or academic freedom.

44 Teacher Dress Codes Teachers have to follow dress codes too.
Who decides the teacher dress code? Who enforces the teacher dress code? Examples of teacher dress codes… Jeans only on Friday - Does this fringe on the rights of the teachers?

45 Lifestyle Issues Sexual orientation Unmarried cohabitation - Thompson vs. Southwest School District, 1980. Adultery Use of vulgar language Even, breast feeding in school Sexual orientation not enough to dismiss However, if public flaunting of unconventional sexual conduct? Situation specific – courts size, sophistication, community values, reactions, & notoriety

46 IMMORAL CONDUCT When relations with learners, always dismissal
Courts have acted in support of dismissal decisions. Courts look at the teacher’s behavior and how it influenced both his/her standing in the community. If their actions have outraged the community it will lead to dismissal. Teachers that have been involved with other adults are not as likely to be dismissed.

47 Other Problems Courts have ruled that teachers do have the right to take leave for religious holidays, which they may practice as long as their absence does not cause hardship. Teachers views may not be right to others. Should school be a place where children are taught religious morals?

48 Criminal Conduct Conviction or even indictment can be grounds for dismissal Often must reveal any convictions Varies widely from place to place (shoplifting) preponderance of evidence is all that is needed Revocation of certificate not as strict


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