Federal Teacher Protection Act -- Applicability

Persons Covered

The federal Teacher Protection Act (TPA) applies to teachers, instructors, principals, administrators, school board members, and other educational professional or nonprofessional employees who work in a school and are called upon to maintain discipline or ensure safety.

School Districts

The TPA does not apply to school districts. In other words, a school district is not immune from liability under the TPA.

Conduct Covered

Under the TPA, a school employee is immune from civil liability in a state court when a student is injured as a result of the employee's attempt to discipline or control the student. Specifically, the TPA applies to actions taken by a school employee for the purpose of controlling, disciplining, expelling, or suspending a student or maintaining order or control in the classroom or school. When a school employee acts for any other purpose, and a student is injured as a result of the employee's act, then the employee is not immune from liability under the TPA.

In addition, the TPA applies only if:

(1) the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment when the harm occurred;

(2) the employee's actions did not violate a federal, state, or local law;

(3) the employee was properly licensed or certified for his or her job;

(4) the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless conduct, or a conscious and flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the person harmed by the employee; and

(5) the harm was not caused by the employee's operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle for which the state requires a license or insurance to operate the vehicle.

The TPA does not apply to cases in which the school employee has committed a crime of violence, terrorism, or sexual misconduct. The TPA does not apply if the employee has violated a federal or state civil rights law. The TPA does not apply if the employee was under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or any drug at the time of the harm.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.