NASHVILLE, TN, January 25, 2012 — State Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) announced today she has filed legislation that would give teachers protection from civil liability when disciplining students as long as they follow the established school discipline policy. The bill aims to give teachers the ability to manage their classroom without fear of being sued for either disciplining students or referring them to the principal, when acting in conformity with those policies.
“As I have listened to teachers I have found that many fear that the appropriate management of classroom discipline may result in false lawsuits brought against them,” said Senator Gresham. “This hampers student progress and puts teachers at an unfair disadvantage in achieving their evaluative goals. This bill would give teachers the ability to manage their classrooms without fear of being sued, as long as they are following the school’s policies when disciplining a student.”
Local Boards of Educations must clearly establish a written discipline policy and all employees must receive instruction annually on its provisions. The policy must include methods of dealing with acts of school violence and disciplining students with disabilities.
Upon removing a student from the classroom, the teacher would file a brief report with the principal regarding the behavior for which the discipline was applied. The bill specifies that a principal may not return a student to the classroom when there are three documented removals. If the principal does not comply, the teacher would then have the right to ask the Director of Schools to review the record and determine the appropriate action.
“There must be an orderly classroom for students to learn,” added Senator Gresham. “Teachers must have the authority to discipline students who are disorderly. I look forward to discussing this legislation with my colleagues as it goes through the legislative process and believe it will benefit both students and teachers in Tennessee.”