Amendment Seeks Safer Schools for Teachers and Students

by Rusty Pugh and Jim Brown

(AgapePress) – An organization that fights for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom says tax dollars should be used to educate children, not for litigation.

The group Citizens for a Sound Economy is supporting the Teacher Liability Protection Act, which has been introduced by Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas. Spokesman J.V. Schwan says the legislation provides civil immunity to teachers who act in their official capacity, and obey state law and school rules.

Schwan says school districts spend an enormous amount of money to defend teachers from frivolous lawsuits.

“According to surveys, two-thirds of principals say that they’ve seen a dramatic increase of frivolous lawsuits in our schools in the last ten years,” he says. “[T]his legislation … tries to quell America’s litigiousness by affording teachers the protections that they deserve so they can focus on educating our children instead of a frivolous lawsuit,” he says.

Schwan says the majority of parents support a teacher’s right to control the classroom, and do not believe in suing a teacher for doing his or her job. He contends that schools should not be forced to choose between spending their dollars on new supplies or defending themselves against frivolous lawsuits.

According to the Education Law Association, small school districts can pay up to $15,000 a year in legal services, while larger districts pay upwards of $100,000. Schwan says when schools have to settle or pay lawsuits, it is the taxpayers who ultimately pay.

The amendment passed the House last Wednesday by a 239-189 tally and received support from elementary and secondary school principals, school administrators, and a number of local teachers and parents.

“Dedicated teachers, principals and school boards who act responsibly shouldn't be afraid of being unfairly and recklessly hauled into court,” Representative Brady says.

The amendment was fought by the American Trial Lawyers Association and the National Education Association, two groups who said they “don't oppose” teacher protections but did not want school boards to be protected from similar lawsuits.

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

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