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School Law: Responsibilities of Teachers

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Robert Fountain

on 30 June 2014

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Transcript of School Law: Responsibilities of Teachers

Ethical Responsibilities
Legal Responsibilities
Responsibilities as Educators
Commitment to the Profession
Educators are responsible for exerting every effort to "raise professional standards" and "promote a climate that encourages the exercise of professional judgement"
At any school function whether it is academic, social, cultural or recreational in nature, teachers must ensure that the atmosphere or setting is characteristic of a “school function.” Educators are
It is the teacher's responsibility to use materials that are relevant to the course and subject matter, and have been approved. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the teacher to deliver instruction in an appropriate manner, keeping in terms with academic freedom.
Teachers have the responsibility to
"provide professional education services in a nondiscriminatory manner." (McGraw Hill, 2005)
Health and Safety
A teacher must make reasonable effort to protect the students from conditions harmful to their health and safety.

This responsibility encompasses 3 main components:
Mandatory Reporting
Sexual Harassment
Academic freedom allows teachers and students to express their views (in speech, writing and electronic communication). Students and teachers are able to engage in intellectual debate and express their own opinion without fear. It gives rights to students and teachers to research topics of their choice, draw conclusions and form opinions. They can make comparisons and contrasts between subjects taught in a course and any field of human knowledge or period of history. (Nelson, 2010)

Academic Freedom
Academic freedom does NOT protect teachers who use obscene, irrelevant, inappropriate, or disruptive materials or instruction.
Academic freedom does NOT mean a faculty member can harass, threaten, intimidate, ridicule, or impose his or her views on students.
Appropriate Materials and Instruction
The discrimination law protects classes such as: gender, age, race, religion, color, creed, national origin, martial status, disability, orientation, and public assistance status.
Teacher's should not single out students, have 'favorites' or vary in the degree of instruction provided to one of the classes listed above.
Discrimination can be reason for discharge under the "conduct unbecoming of teacher" statue
(Nelson, 2010)
(McGraw Hill, 2005)
Teachers are held liable for much of what they do, say, write and communicate. Much of this is included in the "Conduct Unbecoming" standard.

Nearly every state imposes this standard on teacher behavior both inside and outside the classroom. There is no official definition for “conduct unbecoming” many vary within states and local districts.
(A Union of Professionals, 2011)
Some ideas to keep in mind
regarding the responsibilities of
Mandatory Reporting
It is mandatory that teachers report physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. Furthermore, the report must be made within 24 hours and provided to the police, social services or school services, whichever is most appropriate. This responsibility is legally binding.
Teachers are responsible for keeping appropriate boundaries with students. Teachers must maintain their role as a role model and professional, not a friend. Teachers must care for students without 'crossing the line' this includes:

- Referring students to guidance and social workers for emotional support
- Avoiding personal communication (via phone, text message, e-mail, etc)
- Keeping classroom doors open at all times
- Under no circumstance should you touch a child (whether to hug in comfort or scold for discipline)
(Brooklyn Center Schools, 2010)
(Brooklyn Center Schools, 2010)
(Brooklyn Center Schools, 2010)
Sexual Harassment
Teachers, as well as students, administrators, volunteers, support staff, board members, contractors, essentially anyone that interacts within the school are held accountable for protecting students from unwanted sexual advances, requests, or favors.

In the event this occurs teachers are responsible for addressing the harasser and insisting the offense stops. They can also report the incident, and/or assist the victim in reporting the event to the appropriate personnel.
(Brooklyn Center Schools, 2010)
Cases Related to 'Conduct Unbecoming of Teacher'
Use the following links to view varying cases pertaining to conduct unbecoming of teacher

- Board of Education of Fayette County v Hurley-Richards

- School District of the City of Bridgeton and Sara Hancock (April 2013)

- Education Department charges Melissa Petro

-Bridgewater-Raritan Board of Education charges Dr. J. Michael Schilder

(Grenada Union of Teachers, 2010)
Educators are held responsible for supervising children, not only when they are present in their particular classroom but at all times.

This includes
- Hall Monitoring
- Bus Monitoring
- Lunchroom Monitoring
- Athletic Events (home and away)
- Field Trips and School Outings
- School Dances and Events

In any of these instances when or if a teacher witnesses student behavior that is not considered acceptable, they can not turn away, it is their ethical responsibility to confront the offender. These situations may be difficult to handle but ethically, the teacher is obligated to act accordingly.
responsible for avoiding, preventing, stopping or prohibiting disruptions. The teacher will have to intervene any such disclosure, music, activity or use of substance which may be injurious to the social, psychological, spiritual or physical well being of their students.
(Jonsson, 2001)
(National Education Association, 2006)
According the National Education Association's Code of Ethics,
Commitment to the Profession Includes Refraining from the Following:
1. Deliberately make a false statement or fail to disclose a material fact related to competency and qualifications in any application.

2. Misrepresent his/her professional qualifications.

3. Assist any entry into the profession of a person known to be unqualified in respect to character, education, or other relevant attribute.

4. Knowingly make a false statement concerning the qualifications of a candidate for a professional position.

5. Assist a non educator in the unauthorized practice of teaching.

6. Disclose information about colleagues obtained in the course of professional service unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose or is required by law.

7. Knowingly make false or malicious statements about a colleague.

8. Accept any gratuity, gift, or favor that might impair or appear to influence professional decisions or action.
School districts in Alabama were provided with a new ethics law, aimed to protect the best interest of students and faculty alike. However, it caused some confusion in December of 2011 surrounding one of the ethics included in the law:
Teachers cannot accept any gratuity,
gift, or favor of value.
School Law
Robert Fountain
June 2013

(National Education Association, 2006)
Works Cited
Full transcript