Should Teachers Be Held Liable For Bullying (Even When They Try to Help)?

When a student approaches a teacher with a problem—a legitimate issue fraying their nerves—the majority of teachers lend a supportive hand. What if that’s not good enough anymore?

In a recent decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, as detailed by The Blade, they will determine whether teachers and administrators can be sued in cases of bullying under their supervision. 

The case that sparked such a possibility originated during the 2015-2016 school year at DeVeaux Elementary School in Toledo. In this particular incident, a kindergartner’s cheek was allegedly pierced by a peer, someone who had been reported of bullying in the past.

Though the teacher, assistant principal, and principal were safeguarded from such a lawsuit, a group of judges resurrected the case, stating the accused personnel failed to prevent injury after being alerted of the bullying.

The teacher and administrators pled that they discussed the problem with both students and, on more than one occasion, checked in with the victim; additionally, the child accused of tormenting and violence had no history of such behavior in the past. 

In fact, the teacher, whose desk was approximately ten-feet away from one of the students, stated in the initial appeal, “There was no screaming or crying, and no student reported any disturbance.”

The Toledo Federation of Teachers, who support the school’s employees, announced the decision could affect all of Ohio’s 130,000 teachers. Truth is, this case and the fate of the teacher and administrators could leak—and likely already is—across the borders and into other states.

The most frightening aspect of such litigation is how easily the focus on bullying can stray into other avenues, thereby holding teachers liable for issues that are completely out of their control. 

Read the original story at The Blade: https://www.toledoblade.com/local/politics/2019/11/26/ohio-supreme-court-weighs-in-on-bullying-lawsuit/stories/20191126114.

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