Granting immunity for teachers against lawsuits
“You can’t touch me, or I’ll sue you,” is a phrase Kentucky State Representative Stan Lee wants to get out of schools.
Lee filed BR 486, which will go to the Kentucky House Education Committee in January. He says he’s spoken with teachers who are scared to discipline students or even defend themselves for fear of being sued. However, Edward Box, a civil attorney in Paducah, says this likely won’t change anything.
For Kim Phelps, covering her bases is important. She’s been a Spanish teacher for five years and told me that, although she has teacher’s insurance with the Kentucky Education Association, she still pays attention to her communication with students.
“I do text students through an online app that tracks what I send to them, so there is proof to what I am saying to the students outside of the classroom,” Phelps said.
Box doesn’t think this immunity bill is needed. “If a child comes out them to assault them with their fist or a knife or a gun, they’re like anybody else. They have the privilege of self-defense,” Box says. And teachers are already given qualified immunity if something is done in good will.
Although Phelps says she always feels safe at Marshall County High School, she thinks being insured is important.
Box says he’s been on both sides of the fence of civil law and believes it’s important to hold everyone accountable. “No barrel of apples is 100 percent the best barrel of apples all the time.”
Lee thinks this will help good apples to be worry free. He also told us that there is no statute that protects teachers. This bill would make qualified immunity mandatory.