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Gerri Spinella Ed.D. Elizabeth McDonald Ed.D.

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1 Gerri Spinella Ed.D. Elizabeth McDonald Ed.D.
Teachers and The Law 7th Chapter 5 When Am I Liable? Fischer, Schimmel, Stellman PowerPoint Presentation Gerri Spinella Ed.D. Elizabeth McDonald Ed.D. This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of my images; any rental, lease, or lending of the program. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

2 Chapter 5 When Am I Liable? Essential Question As reasonably prudent educators, how do you perform your duty of care to students? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

3 Key Concepts Chapter 5 –When Am I Liable?
Key Concepts Chapter 1-Teachers and the Legal System Student Injuries Defenses against Liability Other Types of Liability Damages Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

4 KEY TERMS- Chapter 5 Tort immunity (58) Section 1983 (72-73)
Reasonable care (59) Compensatory damages (75) Duty of care (60) Nominal damages (75) Contributory negligence (63) Exemplary or punitive damages (75) Comparative negligence (64) Prevailing party (77) Assumption of risk (64) -Reasonable Care: degree of care o a teacher of ordinary prudence would have used under like circumstances Ex. Placing a tether ball pole so close toe the monkey bars , providing a natural incentive for a young child to try to slide down the pole Failure to be more careful when dangers are greater….to provide careful instructions, clear warnings and close supervision ---would constitute negligence -Duty of Care – when the risk of death to a child is balanced against the burden sought to be imposed on the counselors, the scales tip in favor of duty. (Ex. Telling the counselor about a student trying to kill themselves or others…) Comparative negligence-allows negliglent students to recover damages has been trend; Contributory Negligence: plaintiff cannot recover damages if the plaintiff's own negligence was in any way cause of injury – student severed two fingers in Shop II; however, evidence showed that safety issues were addressed; the younger the student, more difficult to prove Comparative negligence-permits judge or jury to compare the relative negligence of the plantiff and the defendant in causing the injury and to make an appropriate damage award. (ex. 9 year broker her leg on a merry-g-round, court compared the negligence of the student with that of the school board (supervision); awarded 50% amount of compensation to each. -Assumption of risk- defense against liability in activities such as competitive sports; person who know and appreciate the danger involved in an activity; voluntarily engage in it –expose them to predictable risks. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007 Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

5 Teacher failed to use due care.
Teachers may be held liable for damages for an injured student if the student can prove four things: Teacher had a duty to be careful and to protect the student from being injured. Teacher failed to use due care. Teacher’s carelessness caused the injury. The student sustained provable damages. Student Injuries Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

6 Tort Immunity based on premise:
Public funds designated for schooling should not be paid to private individuals for non-education purposes State statutes for modified its scope Law requires Perform as a reasonably prudent person When teacher’s actions fall below standards, teacher will be liable for injury Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

7 KEY CONCEPT- Chapter 5 When Am I Liable? Criteria (59)
Teacher must not injure & must protect the student Teacher failed to use due (reasonable) care Teacher’s carelessness caused the injury Student sustained provable damages. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

8 Case Presentation The Sheehan Case Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

9 Teacher Supervision Teachers are required to supervise students all times. A teacher’s duty of supervision extends beyond school hours. Teachers can be held liable if a student injuries another student or teacher. Teachers can be held liable if an aide injures a student. If teachers are careless, they are automatically liable for damages. There are special liability standards for substitute teachers and student teachers. Not always needed to supervise Yes—teachers supervision beyond school hours Yes if the school hasn’t documented the aggressor’s offenses and if this occurs again, school is laible No teacher--- the courts determines the supervision issue by the teacher The injured students must prove more than that the teacher was careless; they must also show that the teachers failure to use due care was the cause of the injury. No. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007 Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

10 Defenses against Liability
2002 – No Child Left Behind Act (Paul D. Coverdell Teacher Protection Act) Prevents teachers from being sued for acts arising out of the normal course of their jobs, including discipline on students Use of Waiver or Release Doesn’t prevent suing Schools have been generally unsuccessful in using them to prohibit negligence suits Releases are “closely scrutinized and strictly construed” by courts Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

11 Other Types of Liability
Report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect Create school policies regarding students or employees with AIDS Maintain safe environment Difficult to hold schools liable for educational malpractice Can be held liable for negligent hiring or retention of unfit employees Can be liable for the emotional and physical injuries of students and teachers Other Types of Liability follow recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics May attend school; depending upon individual’s condition, may be restricted May have medical teams to assist student/employee Negligence cases for injuries to teachers are rare because this covered by worker’s compensation and barred by governmental immunity Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007 Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

12 Schools are liable for violation of due process rights of students.
School Districts are liable for violating a student’s constitutional rights (Section 1983). Schools are liable for violation of due process rights of students. Schools are liable for violating students’ rights under the equal protection clause. Schools are liable under Title IX for the wrongful acts of students and teachers. Other Types of Liability Section 1983: school districts are liable but not local governmental units cannot be held liable for their employees negligent behaviors; Carefully monitor decisions by federal courts to keep apprised of current consitutional standards -Equal Protection Clause – Nabosky – harassment of gay student; school officials were liable for discriminating against the student on the basis of his sexual orientation – violates equal protection clause Title IX: no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denoted the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal funding Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007 Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

13 Damages Amount of money depends on circumstances Substantial Sums
Compensatory – mental or emotional distress Punitive – school officials who intentionally deprive the student of his/her rights Nominal – violation is unintentional and no actual injuries Compensatory dames: compensate injured persons for their actual losses (medical expenses, lost salary, court costs and other as a result of the defendant’s negligence (monetary, physical or psychological injury Exemplary or punitive-defendants have shown malice, fraud, or reckless disregard for injured person’s safety or constitutional rights; punish the defendants for their wrongful actions Nominal: symbolic award ($1.00) plaintiff has been wronged and showed actual damages. Examples of cases: Memphis Community School District v. Statute – action arising from unwarranted discharge of a teacher Cary v. Pipus – 2 Chicago students suspended for 20 days without due process Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007 Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

14 Analysis of Mancha Case
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

15 Case Study Initial Proceedings Complaint Defendant
Answers (30 days) or motion to dismiss Facts of claim by plaintiff seeks Complaint Interrogatories Depositions Document Requests Case Study Discovery Begins Settlement Conference Step by Step In The Court System OUTCOME EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATION Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

16 Chapter 5 When Am I Liable? Reflection Based upon the knowledge of liability issues, in what ways can we ensure the safety of our students and teachers? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2007

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