Legal Liabilities For Teachers And Supervisors

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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Public School Law, School Law, School Legal Issues, Educational Laws & Policies

Professorial Roles

Dr. Kritsonis has served in professorial roles at Central Washington University, Washington; Salisbury State University, Maryland; Northwestern State University, Louisiana; McNeese State University, Louisiana; and Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge in the Department of Administrative and Foundational Services.
In 2006, Dr. Kritsonis published two articles in the Two-Volume Set of the Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration published by SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, California. He is a National Reviewer for the Journal of Research on Leadership, University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA).
In 2007, Dr. Kritsonis was invited to write a history and philosophy of education for the ABC-CLIO Encyclopedia of World History.
Currently, Dr. Kritsonis is Professor of Educational Leadership at Prairie View A&M University – Member of the Texas A&M University System. He teaches in the PhD Program in Educational Leadership. Dr. Kritsonis taught the Inaugural class session in the doctoral program at the start of the fall 2004 academic year. In October 2006, Dr. Kritsonis chaired the first doctoral student to earn a PhD in Educational Leadership at Prairie View A&M University. He has chaired over 18 doctoral dissertations. He lives in Houston, Texas

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Legal Liabilities For Teachers And Supervisors

  1. 1. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
  2. 2. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
  3. 3. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>“ Can I be held liable?”, is the question asked by educators more than others.. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>Public school professional employees are covered by a provision called qualified immunity which is provided by the Texas Education Code. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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 employee’s position of employment and that involves the exercise of judgment or discretion on the part of the employee”. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>Section 1983 suits involve a charge of an abuse of governmental authority that deprives someone (teacher, student) of federally protected rights. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>The rights can range from infringing upon a student’s rights of his Fourth Amendment to an employee’s First Amendment rights to speak as a citizen on matters of public concern </li></ul>
  15. 15. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>The law states that “if a person making a decision is characterized as a policy-maker for the governmental entity, then that person’s action is attributable to the governmental entity”. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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 employee’s position of employment. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Legal Liabilities for Teachers and Supervisors <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Works Cited and References <ul><li>Alberta Teachers Association . Training in Liability Issues and </li></ul><ul><li>its Potential for Enhancing Working Conditions. Retrieved April 12, 2008, from http://www.teachers.ab.ca/Templates/Secondary </li></ul><ul><ul><li> Page.aspx ? NRMODE= Published&NRNO . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Blank, S. (2006). Teachers' Rights, Responsibilities, and Legal Liabilities. Edmonton, CA: Barnett House. </li></ul><ul><li>Walsh, J., Kemerer, F., & Maniotis, L. (2005). The Educator's Guide to Texas School Law (6th ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. </li></ul>

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