As a parent, you trust school officials and teachers to care for your child each school day and to do their best to keep your child out of harm's way. With the well-being of students in mind, states have passed an array of laws that impose legal responsibilities on teachers. When something happens to your child at school that a teacher caused, or could have prevented, you have certain legal rights against the teacher, the school, and possibly both.
Teachers Must Keep Student Information Confidential
Teachers come in contact with your child every day. As a result, it's natural for teachers to learn things about the child and the child's family that should remain confidential. This covers a wide range of situations, some of which may be more sensitive than others. For example, teachers may need your permission before they can post your child's work on a website, discuss your child with other parents, provide your child's educational record to anyone who asks, or voluntarily release information to the police or other authorities without a court order. On the other hand, there are times when a teacher must speak up. In most states, teachers are mandated by law to report suspected cases of child abuse to the appropriate authority.
Fine Line Between Discipline and Physical Abuse
Most people would agree that teachers must maintain control over their classrooms, but there are limitations as to what they can do to accomplish this goal. In 31 states, teachers are not permitted to hit or spank children who act out or disrupt the classroom. In the other 19 states, light paddling or spanking is permitted to discipline students. A teacher's authority to use corporal punishment is extremely controversial. Despite its legality in some states, it never means that your child can be seriously injured at school. In situations where a teacher must use force to restrain a violent student, to protect other students from harm, physical force may be permissible and necessary.
Verbal Abuse Is Just as Harmful as Physical Abuse
A teacher who insults and embarrasses your child in front of other students can have a lasting impact on your child. This kind of treatment can adversely affect your child's confidence and performance at school. State and federal laws prevent teachers from verbally abusing students. In some cases, consistent verbal abuse towards a specific student may become an illegal discrimination offense.
Inappropriate Touching of Students Is Never Permissible
Touching a child inappropriately is illegal no matter is the offender. However, children tend to be more vulnerable in a school setting since they form trusting relationships with teachers and other school professionals. Children can sometimes be more perceptive than adults. If your children ever complain about being uncomfortable because of the way a teacher touched them, it's a serious charge. You have legal rights that can protect your children and punish such teachers.
An Education Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the responsibilities of teachers is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an education lawyer.
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