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When Are Teachers Allowed To Sue School Districts?

It was not that long ago that schools were considered safe havens for teachers and students.However, in recent years, violence involving students and teachers has been escalating and teachers are finding it necessary to defend themselves. Whether it is finding unorthodox but effective ways of keeping wild students under control or having to take school districts to court, teachers are starting to strike back against school district negligence and student violence through the use of personal injury lawsuits.

Queens Teacher Files A LawsuitTeacher teaching

Kathy Perez is a school teacher who used to work at MS 72 Catherine and Count Basie School in Jamaica, New York. Ms. Perez submitted a series of reports to the school district and the school’s principal regarding violent and sexually aggressive behavior on the part of students. Students would physically beat up Ms. Perez and make sexual threats that made her job a living hell.

By the time Ms. Perez left MS 72, she had been taken out of school on a stretcher at least twice. In addition, she suffered seven total herniated discs in her back and neck and, had surgery on a torn meniscus. She filed two lawsuits against the board of education and was eventually awarded a settlement of $125,000. The principal at MS 72 maintained that students were disciplined when they misbehaved, but Ms. Perez’ medical records indicated otherwise.

Do School Districts Have A Part To Play In The Negligence?

In 2015, a teacher from Tennessee named Suzanne King was finally awarded a settlement and given a disability rating of eight percent after an accident she suffered in 2008. In the years leading up to her successful lawsuit, Ms. King had consistently complained about pain as the result of tripping over books a student left in a walkway. While the lawsuit was not geared to pin blame on the school district, it did seek to get the district to pay for unpaid medical bills and recognize Ms. King’s permanent injury as a result of her work injury.

The school district never assumed responsibility for repeatedly ignoring Ms. King’s official declarations for medical help, and for constantly allowing doctors to declare her 100 percent healthy when her medical records said otherwise. She was awarded a little over $23,000 and given an eight percent disability rating which did not prevent her from teaching, but did limit her physical activities.

Teacher Injury  Statistics

The statistics associated with teacher injuries and student violence are startling. In the school year that ran from 2011 to 2012, five percent of all school teachers in the United States said they were physically attacked by students. That is the highest recorded percentage of attacks in history, and it goes hand-in-hand with the nine percent of teachers who were threatened with violence in that same school year.

In the school year that ran from 2013 to 2014, students reported 757,000 violent incidents in American schools. With all of the stories about students being attacked by other students and people from outside the schools, it is easy to forget that teachers are also in danger.

Following The Process After Being InjuredTeachers wanted board

When teachers follow the proper process of filing a report of violent incidents, they then should expect to see action from the school district. If the violence continues and the school district does nothing, then it can be expected that a teacher will file a personal injury lawsuit against the school district and possibly the students in question if that teacher is injured. Teachers who do not follow the process of reporting violence in their classrooms will find it much harder to get any kind of restitution in a civil or criminal court.

The image of the American public school as a safe place for learning is rapidly fading away and being replaced by an image of a violent and unsafe environment. When school districts ignore reports from teachers of violent attacks or incidents, then those districts run the risk of facing their teachers in court.

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