An examination of court cases involving immunity in the K-12 setting

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University of Alabama Libraries

The impetus of this research is to provide districts and their personnel with sound guidelines by which they can protect themselves and the interests of the public taxpayers, and to develop personnel knowledge appropriately as it relates to the use of immunity as a legal defense. The use of various forms of immunity as a defensible position is growing increasingly difficult in our litigious society. Administrators, superintendents, and school boards must become more cognizant of how current legal interpretations impact the liabilities they encounter. It is vital that school leaders protect their schools and personnel through professional development that provides the necessary knowledge to retain immunity. This study was conducted as a qualitative, historical, document-based study of legal cases briefed and analyzed to determine the issues, outcomes, and trends involving the various types of immunity defenses used by school personnel. The study involved cases from 1981 to 2010, to ensure validity and relevance. The conclusion of the study provided findings that were used to develop guiding principles for school personnel in their day-to-day operations. Within the study, the trend was that school personnel's immunity defense relies on several factors: (1) school personnel were acting within the scope and authority of their position; (2) their actions were discretionary, which involves the exercise of judgment, rather than ministerial; (3) the conduct in question does not rise to the level of willful or wanton behavior; (4) their actions were not committed with malicious intent; and (5) they do not violate an established constitutional right. In view of this trend, it is paramount that school personnel know and implement best practices in their daily work that will not abrogate their immunity defense.

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Educational leadership, Law