It is vital that you, as a school teacher, know whether you are exposed, in any form, degree, or manner to a lawsuit by a student or by the parents or caregivers (called “Guardians Ad Litem”) representing them; or whether you could at any time be made part of a named group of teachers and administrators who are the subjects of a lawsuit. Your knowing that you can be sued is the first and foremost step toward understanding where exactly you “are,” with respect to your principal, other teachers, and your school district and its board of education.
When a lawsuit comes, are you on your own…and alone?
EIGHT MYTHS ABOUT TEACHERS and LAWSUITS
“I cannot be sued because I pay teacher’s union dues and I am protected.”
“If I am sued, my principal will advise me on whether I have to cooperate.”
“I teach at a nonprofit school, so a lawsuit would not affect me.”
“I’ve never been sued before. Usually, if somebody has been sued, they attract more lawsuits, for some reason.”
“Parents know schools don’t have any money, so lawsuits against schools are actually going down, which increases my chances of never being sued.”
“Children and their parents who sue teachers don’t really mean any harm and they shouldn’t be taken seriously.”
“If a student or their parent sue me, I will countersue them and they’ll leave me alone.”
“There’s little or nothing a student can sue a teacher for, and the courts know that.”
One wintry afternoon, a San Francisco-area attorney called me to ask if she
could enlist my expertise for an assault and personal injury case involving a
large high school where her teen-aged client had been viciously brutalized. After
being assaulted, he forced himself to drive to an urgent care facility where the
scope and extent of his injuries were staggering. I felt chill bumps as the
attorney explained that her client lapsed in and out of consciousness while
driving to seek medical aid. There was no doubt that her client had been a
victim of a perpetrator whose intent was to inflict great bodily injury. The attack
occurred in the student parking lot.