Federal News in Brief

Court Upholds Law Protecting Teachers and Administrators

By Mark Walsh — February 22, 2011 1 min read

The federal statute meant to give teachers and school administrators protection from legal liability over their efforts to maintain safe schools has been upheld against a constitutional challenge.

The case involved a student who was slashed by another student at a Kansas City, Mo., school in 2005 and sought to hold the district’s superintendent liable.

The Missouri Supreme Court this month upheld the Paul D. Coverdell Teacher Protection Act, which was passed as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The law aims to protect education professionals from being sued for undertaking “reasonable actions to maintain order, discipline, and an appropriate educational environment.”

The plaintiff in the case had argued that Congress lacked the authority under the spending clause in Article I of the Constitution to coerce states into recognizing legal immunity for teachers and administrators over efforts to keep schools safe. The court rejected that argument, noting that under the federal law, states can nullify its application merely by passing legislation saying so and without losing education funds.

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A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2011 edition of Education Week as Court Upholds Law Protecting Teachers and Administrators

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