No Child Left Behind: A Toolkit for Teachers
Archived Information

No Child Left Behind: Supporting America's Teachers

Liability Protection, Loan Forgiveness and Tax Relief

"Teachers deserve all the knowledge and support we can give them. And children deserve the quality education that comes from excellent teachers. This is their birthright".

- Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States

As part of the historic effort to improve America's schools, No Child Left Behind and other federal education laws and policies provide strong support for the classroom teacher.

Liability Protection

Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, ensures that teachers, principals and other school professionals can undertake reasonable actions to maintain order and discipline in the classroom without the fear of litigation. It provides protection to teachers, instructors, principals, administrators and other education professionals for reasonable actions taken to maintain discipline, order or control in the school or classroom. Specifically, the law protects educators by:

  • Limiting the financial liability of teachers for harm they may cause acting on behalf of the school in disciplining students or maintaining classroom order.

  • Shielding teachers from liability when they act within the scope of their employment and in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws, and any harm done to a person was not caused by misconduct, gross negligence, or flagrant indifference to the person's rights or safety.

  • Generally limiting the availability of punitive and non-economic ("pain and suffering") damages against teachers when they are determined to be liable for their acts.

  • Extending protection not only to teachers, but also to administrators, other school professionals, non-professional employees responsible for maintaining discipline or safety, and individual school board members.

To find out more, review the specific language of the law at

Loan Forgiveness

Under current law, teachers in schools that serve low-income families are eligible for up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness if they were new recipients of Federal Family Education Loans or Direct Stafford Loans after October 1998 and have taught for five consecutive years. For FY 2005, President Bush proposed increasing this amount to as much as $17,500 in loan forgiveness for each highly qualified teacher of math, science and special education who teaches in a high-poverty school.

Additionally, teachers of special education, math, science, foreign language, bilingual education and other fields where a state has found a shortage of teachers may qualify for Perkins loan cancellation. To find out more about loan forgiveness and financial aid, visit

Tax Relief

Teachers often use their own resources to provide classroom supplies, supplemental materials and other classroom necessities. In 2004, teachers, instructors, counselors, principals and school aides who work at least 900 hours during the school year are eligible to deduct up to $250 of their non-reimbursed classroom expenses from their federal income tax, even if they do not itemize deductions. Eligible expenses include books; school supplies; computer equipment, software and services; and other equipment and supplemental materials used in the classroom.

In his FY 2005 budget, President Bush proposed increasing the tax deduction for teachers to $400, to cover costs they may incur for classroom materials.

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Last Modified: 08/13/2009