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Ch.8 Educator and School District Liability


Wood v. Strickland (1975) U.S.

·        Failed to give students due process before punishing high school girls for spiking the punch at a school function

·        Board members have qualified immunity, not absolute immunity

·        If board members deny student’s rights, they can be held liable under Section 1983.


Carey v. Piphus (1978) U.S.

·        Suspending students without due process

·        Students are entitled to recover only nominal damages when their due process rights are violated


Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District (1998) U.S.

·        Teacher-to-student harassment

·        If a school is not aware of teacher actions, it is not liable


Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education (1999) U.S.

·        Student to student liability harassment

·        Harassment was serious and systematic

·        Private damages may lie against schools that act with deliberate indifference

Tort Law

·        A Tort Law is a civil wrong

·        Civil law is brought by private citizens

Educator Liability

Intentional Torts

·        Did it happen on purpose?

·        Assault – Immediate fear of bodily harm

·        Battery – Harm to someone


1.     Duty of Care – duty of care not to harm or injure another person

2.     Standard of Care - “reasonable and prudent”

3.     Proximate Cause – ex. maintain a safe playground

4.     Actual Loss or Injury – proof of damage

Defenses for Negligence        

1.     Contributory Negligence

2.     Assumption of Risk

3.     Comparative Negligence


·        Compensatory Damages

·        Punitive Damages

·        Nominal Damages


·        Written or spoken harm to reputation communicated to a 3rd party

Plenary Power

·        State legislators put schools in place


Labor Relations

Rodda Act

·        Established exclusive collective bargaining board

·        Between school districts and the exclusive bargaining agent

·        Matters relating to wages, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment


·        Public Employment Relations Board

·        School labor relation disputes

Brown Act -       

·        School Board Meetings

·        Meetings must be open and public