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. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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