The Paul D. Coverdell Teacher Protection Act of 2001 limits the financial liability of teachers, principals, and other school professionals for harm they may cause when acting on behalf of the school in disciplining students or maintaining classroom order.A recent survey of school principals found that 65 percent of respondents had modified or, in some cases, eliminated certain school activities due to liability concerns, and a survey of teachers found that liability was among respondents' top three concerns. The new provision will encourage school staff to maintain school discipline and order by removing the fear of being sued for their actions.
How It Works
This provision protects educators from liability for harm they may cause while disciplining students, and limits the awarding of punitive damages against them, as long as they are acting within the scope of their employment and in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws, including civil rights laws. There are a number of exceptions, including violent crimes, sexual offenses, and actions committed under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The law also states that this provision has no effect on any state or local laws, rules, regulations, or policies about the use of corporal punishment. The provision applies to teachers, principals, administrators, school board members, educational professionals working in a school, any school employee whose job is to maintain discipline and ensure safety, and any school employee who is acting in an emergency to maintain discipline and ensure safety.