Although qualified immunity is largely in the news today because of police misconduct, it is increasingly being debated whether it should be applied to educators (“Schooling Qualified Immunity,” Education Next, Summer 2021). What it does is to insulate public employees from financial liability even if they violate someone’s constitutional rights.
To date, the Supreme Court has been reluctant to strip away this protection for educators. I believe its rulings are correct because teachers are neither lawyers nor police officers. As a result, they can’t be expected to understand the nuances of the law. That’s why school boards buy insurance to indemnify employees against legal costs incurred during their official duties.
Teachers and administrators can’t do their jobs if they have to worry about being sued and paying out of their own pockets. They already have enough pressure in their current roles.
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