ILNews

Plan: protect educators who discipline students

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants more legal protection for educators who discipline students to keep order in their schools.

A news release issued this morning announced the governor's plans to work with lawmakers in the coming legislative session to pass a law providing legal immunity for those teachers and school staff members who, in good faith, discipline students. He also wants the Indiana Attorney General's Office to use its statutory authority to defend any teacher who becomes the target of unreasonable litigation.

The Republican governor made the announcement in Fort Wayne, one of several spots he's visiting this week to unveil a series of announcements about proposed K-12 and higher education policy he hopes for if re-elected in November. This issue is one the governor has heard about from teachers statewide, according to spokeswoman Jane Jankowski.

In the release, the governor cited three examples: a central Indiana student who filed a tort claim notice for injuries against a gym teacher who required the student to do push-ups over an infraction; another student in the Indianapolis area filed claims against school personnel after teachers tried to separate two students involved in a fight; and a northern Indiana student sued the school and principal for attempting to restrain that student during a fight.

The governor noted that a number of states have laws protecting teachers. Those state statutes are being examined as potential models, according to the governor's office.

Student discipline is an issue the Indiana Court of Appeals recently addressed in State v. Paula J. Fettig, No. 49A02-0709-CR-807, a Marion County appeal that came down in April involving a Beech Grove teacher's discipline of a student in gym class. The court upheld the trial judge's dismissal of a battery charge against the teacher, writing that Indiana Code sections 20-33-8-8(b) and 20-33-8-9 protect the teacher from prosecution by stating that teachers "can take any action that is reasonably necessary to carry out or to prevent an interference with an educational function that an individual supervises."

The appellate court noted that "a dearth" of modern caselaw exists on this issue and most of its authority dates to the late 19th century. As a result, appellate courts have removed teacher corporal punishment mostly from jury discretion and put that responsibility in the courts' hands.

That decision drew a dissent from Judge James Kirsch, who wrote that times have changed since that precedent was established and that he has serious doubts that today's Supreme Court would uphold that precedent. Many countries and states now ban corporal punishment in schools, he wrote.
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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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