Chapter 6 School Personnel And School District Liability


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Chapter 6 School Personnel And School District Liability

  1. 1. Chapter 6 School Personnel and School District Liability <ul><li>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 any images; any rental, lease, or lending of the program. </li></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>It should be noted that teachers and administrators are held to a higher standard of care than the ordinary man on the street. </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher or administrator is under the duty to possess more than the “ordinary” amount of intelligence in relation to students and their care. </li></ul>
  3. 3. The School as a Safe Place <ul><li>Schools are presumed to be safe places where teachers teach and students learn. </li></ul><ul><li>The prevailing view held by the courts is that prudent professional educators, acting in place of parents, are supervising students under their care and ensuring, to the greatest extent possible, that they are safe. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Liability of School Personnel <ul><li>School personnel are responsible for their own tortious acts in the school environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Liability involving school personnel normally falls into two categories--intentional torts and unintentional. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Intentional torts such as assault, battery, libel, slander, defamation, false arrest, malicious prosecution and invasion of privacy require proof of intent or willfulness; whereas simple negligence, as an unintentional tort, does not require such proof of intent or willfulness. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Vicarious Liability <ul><li>Since school districts are deemed employers of teachers, they also may be held vicariously liable for the negligent behavior of their employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Under the old theory of respondeat superior , the master is only responsible for authorized acts of its servants or agents. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Foreseeability <ul><li>Foreseeability is a crucial element in liability cases, especially in cases involving negligence. </li></ul><ul><li>Foreseeability is defined as the teacher’s or administrator’s ability to predict or anticipate that a certain activity or situation may prove harmful to students. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Once this determination is made, there is an expectation that prudent steps be taken to prevent harm to students. </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to act in a prudent manner may result in liability claims. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Assault <ul><li>An assault is an offer to use force in a hostile manner which causes apprehension. </li></ul><ul><li>The person being assaulted normally must feel a degree of immediacy in the sense that the one committing the assault will execute it promptly and has the apparent capacity to do so. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Battery <ul><li>A battery has occurred when physical contact actually takes place. In practice, a battery is a successful assault. </li></ul><ul><li>A battery involves unwelcomed and unprivileged body contact involving another person that is hostile and unlawful. </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Assault and battery affect teachers, administrators and students in the school environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Every person is responsible for his or her actions in cases involving assault and battery. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Defamation <ul><li>Defamation occurs when false statements are made about another person. </li></ul><ul><li>These statements generally are ones that tend to harm a person’s good name, reputation or subject the person to hatred, contempt or ridicule . </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Certain statements are privileged if made in good faith and within the scope of educator’s duty. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, school personnel who expect to be protected by qualified privilege must not make false statements regarding students or colleagues with malice or the intent to harm . </li></ul>
  14. 14. False Imprisonment <ul><li>False imprisonment occurs when a student is detained illegally by the teacher or the principal. </li></ul><ul><li>False imprisonment is considered to be an intentional tort . </li></ul>
  15. 15. Unintentional Torts <ul><li>Unintentional tort is a wrong perpetrated by someone who fails to exercise that degree of care in doing what is otherwise permissible; i.e., acts negligently. </li></ul><ul><li>Negligence is perhaps the most prevalent source of litigation involving injury to students. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Negligence is generally viewed as the failure to exercise a reasonable standard of care which results in harm or injury to another person. </li></ul><ul><li>Most negligence cases involve civil wrongs, although there may be instances in which the accused faces both civil and criminal charges. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Standard of Care <ul><li>Standard of care is an important concept in cases involving liability of school personnel. </li></ul><ul><li>It requires that school personnel exercise the same degree of care which a person of ordinary prudence would exercise under the same or similar conditions. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>This standard of care will vary depending on particular circumstances. </li></ul><ul><li>The level of care due students changes based upon the age, maturity, experience and mental capacity of students , as well as the nature of the learning activities in which they are involved. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Defenses for Negligence Contributory Negligence <ul><li>If the evidence reveals that persons claiming injury exhibited conduct that fell below a reasonable standard, liability charges against school personnel may be abrogated. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Assumption of Risk <ul><li>Assumption of risk is commonly used as a defense in situations involving various types of contact related activities such as athletic teams, pep squads and certain intramural activities. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Even though a student assumes an element of risk, it does not relieve school personnel in cases where they fail to meet a reasonable standard of care based upon the age, maturity, risk and nature of the risk associated with the activity. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Comparative Negligence <ul><li>Under comparative negligence, acts of those responsible are compared in the degree of negligence attributed in an injury situation. </li></ul><ul><li>Juries will normally determine the degree of negligence which may range from slight to ordinary to gross depending on the circumstances. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Immunity <ul><li>Immunity as a legal concept has diminished in terms of impact. </li></ul><ul><li>It is based on the old common law of sovereign immunity, “The King can do no wrong,” meaning that the state or federal government is protected from suit and cannot be held liable for injuries that resulted in the proper execution of governmental functions. </li></ul>