SOURCE: Center for Justice and Democracy (CJ&D)
For more information contact:
Emily Gottleib or Joanne Doroshow
(212) 267-2801


During the 2000 presidential debates, then candidate George W. Bush announced his support for a federal "Teacher Protection Act," similar to a 1995 law he backed in Texas that immunizes teachers who hit students for disciplinary purposes. In his "Education Policy" statement, he said he would "[e]nact the `Teacher Protection Act' to shield teachers, principals, and school board members acting in their official capacity from federal liability arising out of their efforts to maintain discipline in the classroom, so long as they do not engage in reckless or criminal misconduct. In addition, plaintiffs who bring meritless claims in federal court challenging teacher and principal disciplinary actions would be liable for the legal expenses, including attorney's fees, incurred in the defense of the teachers and principals.”

The following Texas case shows how Bush's proposal would work: In May 1993, a Bruce Elementary School student was beaten with a piece of wood by his music teacher for being late to class. The attack caused the boy to defecate in his clothes and left bruises. The boy's mother sued the Houston Independent School District and the teacher, but the judge dismissed the case, slapping the mother with a $15,000 penalty for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Flynn, George, “Paddling dismissed by judge,” Houston Chronicle, August 10, 1996; Riak, Jordan, “Texas: No justice for schoolchildren,” found texas.htm.

Bush's endorsement of corporal punishment runs counter to the views of lawmakers in most states.

There is a strong correlation between states that immunize teachers for corporal punishment and the number of children that are hit. Teachers say that the best way to restore discipline in classrooms is not to immunize them from lawsuits but to reduce class size.
See "A VISIT TO GOODLAND: A Three-minute Lesson in Understanding Teacher Liability Protection", By Jordan Riak at

See "The Teacher Liability Protection Act: An Unwise and Unnecessary Federal Intrusion" at

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