Do Teachers Need Protection From Lawsuits?

February 12, 2001

Teachers need legislative protection from frivolous lawsuits, says Citizens for a Sound Economy. The rising tide of lawsuits against schools and teachers over the last decade has made school discipline difficult, reduced educational opportunities for children and diverted education resources.

  • Almost one-third of high school principals have been involved in a lawsuit in the last two years compared to 9 percent 10 years ago, according to an American Tort Reform Association survey.
  • An American Federation of Teachers' survey found liability protection is among teachers' top three concerns, and teacher unions are competing to provide the most insurance coverage.
  • For instance, the Texas State Teachers Association provides for $6 million in liability coverage compared to $1 million coverage by the National Education Association.
  • At the country's third largest insurer of teachers, Forrest T. Jones Inc., the number of teachers purchasing liability insurance has increased 25 percent in the past five years.

Moreover, lawsuits are having a negative impact on schools.

  • Sixty-five percent of principals have ended or changed school programs out of concern for lawsuits, according to an American Tort Reform Association survey.
  • Small school districts can pay $5,000 to $15,000 a year in legal services, while larger districts may have to pay nearly $100,000, says the Education Law Association.

The CSE proposes a Teacher Protection Act to protect school employees from civil and criminal liability when they act in conformity with state law and school rules. It will also punish those who knowingly file false claims against teachers.

Source: Citizens for a Sound Economy, "Teachers Need Legislative Protection from Frivolous Lawsuits," Talking Points, February 9, 2001.

 

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