Summer holidays are over, and September is the start of school for many students and teachers. Teaching is one of the most rewarding yet as challenging too. Teachers are the ones who keep influencing young minds with professional education. They educate and develop student’s essential skills and support them through learning hurdles.
Every teacher has at least a slight impact on their student, and most try to provide the best educational service. However, as a teacher, no matter what subject you teach, there are risks that can completely change your career path. These risks are called teacher liability risks.
A teacher’s liability risk can negatively affect them and cause them professional harm, such as lawsuits and reputation damage. In addition, one liability lawsuit can ruin an educator’s future career and financial status.
As a teacher, you may wonder – “what are these teacher’s liability risks? -I am a great teacher; these risks couldn’t affect me“.
These risks can affect any teacher, even if you do not work for a school or are great at your job. This article will explain each teacher’s liability risk and how school liability insurance may be your best solution.
What is School Liability Insurance?
School liability insurance is a professional liability policy that can protect schools and any type of educator from teacher liability risks while performing their duties. The insurance should be bought by every organisation and professional in the education industry.
The insurance can provide the necessary cover to deal with teacher liability risk. You never know when your professional activities or supervision may lead to lawsuits as a teacher. The insurance will help you fight your case and explain your side of the case.
What Are Common Teacher’s Liability Risks?
No matter how great of a teacher you are, there are someday you make mistakes. A mistake can range from something minor to something significant. If you forget to mark down a student’s name during the morning register, no one will act against you- an easy fix. On the other hand, if a student is injured during your supervision- this is a different story. You will be liable when (if) your negligence causes injuries, property damage, or even mental damage.
It is one of the most common teacher liability risks that can result in lawsuits, reputation damage and sufficient financial loss. Incidents of negligence are more common when a teacher has a large group of students under their supervision and cannot provide full attention to every child. Unfortunately, a parent or a higher authority may not see it the same way you do.
For example, a teacher will be sued and held liable if there is a fight or bullying under their supervision. Mainly if the conflict or bullying results in serious injuries or mental harm. The teacher may be forced to pay legal costs to appeal and settlement costs. A negligence claim can result in awful reputation damage if not dealt with appropriately by experts.
False Allegation Risks
Another common teacher liability risk and worry every teacher faces is false allegations. Sadly, as some kids start to mature, they feel a sense of power and respect for authority diminishes. They feel they can spread rumours and false information about the teacher, but they don’t understand how the allegation can harm a teacher’s future and reputation.
In many cases, the allegations are serious issues that reach parents and high authority. Allegations can influence parents to act and sue the teacher without evidence. But unfortunately, most parents will blindly believe their child before they believe an adult teacher or investigate further.
For example, a student may claim a teacher physically abused them – resulting in serious legal actions. In fact, there are many cases like this where teachers have been fired from the school and arrested due to a false allegation.
Many schools have begun an open-door policy to try their best to avoid such false cases. In addition, teachers are advised never to close a door when with just 1 or 2 students unless a higher supervisor is present.
Independent Teaching Risks
Not all teachers work for a school or an organisation; many excellent teachers are tutors or freelance teachers. Tutors have the same responsibility towards their students without being attached to a school brand. Many tutors work at their homes or travel to student’s homes. They also face the same teacher’s liability risk and sometimes even more.
The main difference between a schoolteacher and a tutor is the support from the other staff and the school. An independent teacher can also face negligence and misconduct allegations from students and their parents. This could be due to their advice, teaching, or misunderstood actions.
For example, a tutor may be sued if their student fails to make the grade. A parent may believe a tutor misrepresented their skills and their teaching did not help their child reach a promised grade. Even though the outcome is not in the tutor’s hands, they will have to defend themselves in such cases and prove their side.
School May Not Protect You Risk
Many teachers believe that the school or the education organisation will protect them from teacher liability risks. Yes, in many cases, the school will help you and support you through the challenging lawsuit and provide clear evidence. However, there can also be instances where your school will put their reputation before their teachers.
A school may leave you alone and remove you from its brand image. After that, you will have to defend your liability case and fight for your reputation. At this point, you will have to find your legal team and evidence support to fight your case.
For example, such actions may be taken by the school when the case involves allegations of sexual misconduct, drug abuse or anything illegal (even if they are not true). The teacher in these situations will have to prove their innocents. Additionally, a teacher can take action against the school and the accuser for acting on false allegations and reputation damage.
Cyber Risks – Online Teaching
Recently online teaching has become more accepted and opened doors for many teachers who prefer to work online. It has also become a common tool when schools are shut down due to weather or sudden government closures. The teaching style has made platforms like zoom more popular in the education industry. The trend also brings teacher liability risks in the form of cyber threats.
The more information teachers share online, the higher the risks of cyber-attacks and data breaches. Online learning gives more than thousands of students access to an education server created by the teacher or school. Not all students and teachers will have cyber security or be connected to a secure WIFI. The lack of cyber security invites cyber criminals to infiltrate the education servers and begin cyber-attacks.
Students use their devices to access the server, devices that may have been on all types of websites. These personal laptops might be full of harmful malware just waiting for the student to open the education server and then spread in there. A cyber-attack can ruin the teachers’ or school’s hard work, shut them out and force them to pay for their data.
How Does School Liability Insurance Cover Teacher Liability Risks?
Teachers should never assume that just because they are doing a good job, being fair, and keeping order in the classroom – they won’t have to deal with any of the above lawsuits. Thousands of fraudulent lawsuits are filed yearly against teachers with almost no proper evidence.
School liability insurance is perfect for teacher liability risks to allow teachers to focus on supporting students instead of worrying about risks out of their control.
The insurance will provide the best financial cover and expert support to a teacher in a challenging situation. The financial cover will include costs to hire legal representation and settlement costs for minor cases. No matter what risk they face, the insurance will try its best to help them through with the least damage. Although the insurance will not cover criminal acts for which you are found guilty.
School liability insurance is a must for any teacher, tutor, online teacher or coach in the education industry.