Give Liberty a Chance!

God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies…

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgement of faith in God and His works.

- Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Teacher Liability Protection

No matter how many years it has been since graduation day, every one of us can still remember that one teacher in our elementary and secondary experience that stands out. Whether that teacher pushed you to your limits, made you laugh on the worst of days, or had that unique gift of making the complex understandable, these teachers still stand out today.

No matter how long it has been since you walked out of class for the last time, you will still find teachers and staff that continue to work hard providing the best learning environment with the resources available to them for our children. As in your life each new day brings new challenges and that is no different for our teachers and supporting staff. Unfortunately, there are days when unforeseen incidents take place that are beyond the control of a teacher which create a liability for the school district and its employees.

From a teacher breaking up a fight between students resulting in an accidental strike to a student in the scuffle to a child injuring himself after running away from the group during a field trip there are many situations in between and beyond that can find a teacher or staff member liable for events that are out of their control.

Unfortunate episodes such as these have led to lawsuits being filed against teachers and staff around our state, despite the fact that school board policies were being followed to address the situation.

Teachers have enough on their hands every day than to worry about whether an accident will happen in which they will be liable. To help address this issue I have co-sponsored the Teacher Liability Protection Act. This legislation is intended to protect teachers, staff, and volunteers from unnecessary lawsuits that divert money away from the classroom and into the courtroom. Such lawsuits can ruin the career of valued a teacher regardless of whether negligence or guilt was found.

The proposed legislation expands the existing liability protection for teachers and other school personnel. Teachers and staff already have some legal protections against liability on matters relating to discipline under our current law. This bill expands the existing protections and establishes a legal precedence to throw out lawsuits if the teacher or staff member was acting within established school board policies. This proposal will not extend these protections to teachers and staff that are not following school board policies or are willfully negligent in performing their duties.

The bill also provides immunity from liability to qualified teachers and staff who dispense medication or life-saving medical treatments such as CPR. In addition, a teacher or other public school employee who is not qualified or one who refuses to offer a treatment or administer medication will not be held liable.

The Teacher Liability Protection Act will provide teachers and staff the security they need to perform their duties without fear of reprisal. The parents and children of Missouri rely on teachers to provide our children the education they need for success. This legislation will give teachers the tools they need to create the best educational environment possible for our children.

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