Federal Teacher Protection Act — Applicability
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.
The TPA does not apply to school districts. In other words, a school district is not immune from liability under the TPA.
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.