Teachers have a great responsibility for not only educating students, but also keeping them safe. Teachers may be put in situations where they must redirect students or even break up a fight. When teachers are in a situation where they must go “hands-on,” teachers could face disciplinary charges.
Can Teachers get in trouble for putting their hands on a student?
- Did you stay within the school and district policy? School districts have guidelines regarding appropriate redirection and the type of touch that is allowed between teachers and students. Become familiar with this policy.
- Were there witnesses to the incident? A teacher should avoid being alone with a student under all circumstances. If they are talking with a student about an assignment or grade, the classroom door should remain open or even have another teacher present in the room.
- If I hug a student, can I get into trouble? Accusations can come out of the most innocent acts. Students love spreading rumors. This can turn a teacher’s hug of encouragement or support into something completely different.
What can happen if I put my hands on a student?
- You can be arrested – You can face criminal charges for child abuse, assault and other charges depending on the circumstances.
- Reassignment to an out-of-school position – While an investigation into the incident is conducted, you will remain with the district so long as it is not within your 90-day probationary contract window.
- Department of Education (DOE) Investigation – school districts are required to report incidents to the DOE. Even if an investigation is concluded and the district finds no wrongdoing, the DOE can still open an investigation. They are not bound by what the school district decides to do. This will put your teaching license at risk.
Can a teacher just resign and go to another school or district?
That may stop the district from questioning, reassigning and then possibly firing you. However, even if you stop the district investigation, the district will still report the incident to the DOE.
What will happen when the DOE investigates?
- The DOE will take your file and reports regarding the incident from the school district.
- They will investigate the incident, including interviewing witnesses.
- They will formally file charges against your teaching license.
If you receive a letter of investigation from the DOE, I strongly recommend hiring an education lawyer who defends teachers. A great education lawyer will begin defending a teacher right from the notice of investigation. If you hire the right education lawyer, they will begin documenting your side of the story and communicating it with the DOE. This could impact the direction of the DOE investigation and lead to a better outcome for the teacher.
You’ve worked hard for your teaching license, protect it at all costs.
Click to read about the DOE investigation process here.
Richard Asselta is an award-winning education lawyer with offices in both Florida and New Jersey. He is experienced in defending all types of teacher disciplinary and misconduct issues including accusations of assault and battery. Call The Education Lawyers today for a free consultation and protect your professional future. (855) 338-5299