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What Principals Need to Know About Avoiding Liability

Todd A. DeMitchell

A science teacher forgets to remind her students to wear their safety goggles during a chemistry experiment and one student is injured when the caustic chemical he is working with splashes into his eyes. A teacher is late for recess duty and a student falls from the swings and is injured. A principal sends one teacher and one student teacher on a field trip with sixty-five students to the seashore when two students slip away and drown. Are these educators liable for the injuries and the deaths of these students? Principals must know the law of negligence and apply its theory in order to successfully lead today's schools. Negligence: What Principals Need to Know About Avoiding Liability provides case studies, legal analyses, and practical applications that will help principals achieve effective leadership.

This book an excellent primer on the tort of negligence and what steps can be taken to reduce injuries and avoid liability. Written in a readable format, it is a must-read for experienced, beginning, and aspiring principals.
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R&L Education
Pages: 184Size: 6 x 9
978-1-57886-500-0 • Hardback • December 2006 • $53.00 • (£37.95)
Todd DeMitchell spent eighteen years in the public schools holding positions from substitute teacher to superintendent, including principal of a K-8 school. Currently, he is a professor in the Department of Education and the Justice Studies Program at the University of New Hampshire, where he specializes in school law, collective bargaining, and educational policy.
Part 1 Foreword
Part 2 Preface: On Being a Principal
Part 3 Part I: Introduction and Research
Chapter 4 Introduction
Chapter 5 Research on Liability and the Principal
Part 6 Part II: Case Studies
Chapter 7 Case Studies
Part 8 Part III: Tort Liability and Its Defenses
Chapter 9 Tort Liability
Chapter 10 Defenses to a Finding of Negligence: When an Accident Happens—What Next?
Part 11 Part IV: Applications of Tort Liability
Chapter 12 Hazing: More than an Innocent Injury
Chapter 13 Negligent Hiring: Did We Hire the Wrong Person?
Chapter 14 Educational Malpractice
Chapter 15 Sexual Abuse of Students: Case Studies on Liability
Chapter 16 Vicarious Liability for Harm Caused by School Employees
Chapter 17 Do Not Resuscitate Orders: The Psychological Impact of a Do Not Resuscitate Order
Chapter 18 Safety Plan, Communication, and the Press
Chapter 19 The Proactive, Prudent Principal
Part 20 Part V: Appendices
Chapter 21 Appendix A: Case Studies Revisited
Chapter 22 Appendix B: Handbook Policy on Supervision
Chapter 23 Appendix C: Tort Liability Handout
Chapter 24 Appendix D: Liability and the Science Lab
Chapter 25 Appendix E1: Tort Scenarios
Chapter 26 Appendix E2: Discussion of Tort Scenarios
Chapter 27 Appendix F: Local Legal Issue: Their Cup Runneth Over
Chapter 28 Appendix G: Selected Cases for Discussion
Chapter 29 Appendix H: Tort Liability Test
Chapter 30 Appendix I: Court Case: The Toothpick and the Ear
Thank you, Todd A. DeMitchell, for writing this book! Both new and veteran principals will benefit from all the information you provide. I particularly like the extensive use of case studies and the tools for examining our own practices and procedures. This book is chock-full of materials that can prompt self-reflection in both administrator and teacher meetings. This is a must-read for any principal.
Pamela Miller, Ph.D., principal, Hawthorne Brook Middle School, North Middlesex Regional School District, Townsend, Massachusetts

The book is written in language that is as clear as it is informative. It provides building level school leaders with a solid foundation upon which to base policies that lead to safer schools with a minimum of tort claims based on negligence. Further, the interested reader could certainly use the information from this book as a starting point for further studies in the area of tort liability. Given those two accomplishments, DeMitchell is to be commended for this valuable contribution to the field.
Education Law Reporter

Negligence: What Principals Need to Know About Avoiding Liability makes tort liability come alive. Education practitioners will find considerable benefit from the author's discussion of legal concepts and the guidelines for good practice. The use of case studies—one of the most efficient and effective methods for teaching legal principles— is shown maximum advantage in this book. The author has admirably constructed the book to be both a valuable legal resource and a ready practical guide for school principals. Those persons interested in further study will be gratified to find copious footnote references to law cases, law articles, and education law texts.
Ralph D. Mawdsley, J.D., Ph.D., professor of school law, Cleveland State University, and past president of the Education Law Association