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clarification

Student bullying staff

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I work in a wealthy school district that has litigious parents. We have a family that has sued every school this student has ever attended. Now the student (student A) is in a therapeutic high school and runs the students and administration. In one day he threatened harm to 5 different female staff with no consequence. Recently he said he would hurt a female staff and the administrator went to the woman and told her to avoid this student as he wanted to hurt her. She went back to her classroom and locked the door. It is common knowledge that he has a problem with women. He has verbally harassed almost everyone in the building at one time or another. Most staff now look away rather than write things up. I continue to write up incidences, but then am referred to as the student's trigger. Yesterday this student was being unkind to an African American boy that we have been told to be watchful of as he tends to bully the boy. When I intervened and wrote up the incident student A called mom, which is what he does when he is upset. Administration is afraid to be sued and instead I was asked to model the behavior we expect from student A by apologizing. I said that I had done nothing wrong. The administrator disagrees, saying that I could have chosen different words when at one point I told student A -who was not backing down, to close or shut his mouth. I am being pressured to smooth this over. I said I would be willing to meet with the student in a meeting Monday. I know this meeting has been set to make nice before Mom comes in. I have had severe headaches at times regarding situations with this student and the lack of management support. Is there anything legal I can do to change the school environment and feel safe?

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Under the Illinois State Supreme Court case of Kobylanski v. Chicago Board of Education (1976), 63 Ill.2d 165, 347 N.E.2d 705, the status in loco parentis shields a teacher from liability in both nondisciplinary and disciplinary matters.  Teachers and the school itself have a statutory duty to maintain discipline for the safety of all students.  If the parents have tried to sued other schools before, they already know this.

 

The statute reads:

 

Sec. 24-24. Maintenance of discipline. Subject to the limitations of all policies established or adopted under Section 14-8.05, teachers, other certificated educational employees, and any other person, whether or not a certificated employee, providing a related service for or with respect to a student shall maintain discipline in the schools, including school grounds which are owned or leased by the board and used for school purposes and activities. In all matters relating to the discipline in and conduct of the schools and the school children, they stand in the relation of parents and guardians to the pupils.

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 I have had severe headaches at times regarding situations with this student and the lack of management support.

 

 

As long as you are working for wusses, nothing will change.

 

 

. Is there anything legal I can do to change the school environment and feel safe?

 

Blanket party comes to mind but that's not exactly legal.

 

The tragic part of this is that the kid may one day bring a gun to school, kill a few people and then himself if the police don't get him first.

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Thank you for your replies. The saga continues as it has come to my attention that the same student has been telling staff and students that I called him a rapist a few years ago. I went to the administrator who knew the student has been saying this about me for a couple of years. He told me that the student says I told a former student who was dating him three years ago that he was a "wife beater and a rapist." This is patently false. At the time the school therapist showed the girl the Cycle of Abuse to educate her as the girl was sharing that he was abusive. I did not say student A was a rapist or a wife beater. I have not called him any names or labeled him.

I am wondering if this is defamation since he has said this about me to a number of staff and students.

Two weeks ago the student threatened me for speaking to him, saying "Talk to me again and see what you get." When I stood and asked what was meant by that the school psychologist stood in front of me and told me to step away while the student was yelling, "She called me a f*cking rapist." The school psychologist later texted another staff that she showed me away because she was worried for my safety. In that moment, I did too. I went to HR to say that I did not feel physically safe to do my job the way it is detailed in my job description. It is a hostile work environment and the only reason I have not been hurt physically is because I back off rather than follow through when student A escalates. The HR director said he would look into it. Is this defamation?

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Thanks for your input. I think I do not understand defamation/slander. How does work discipline (or not) impact student telling people I called him a rapist? All I have is my reputation and I have never disparaged students (or anyone) in this way. What recourse do I have against the lies or the threats of harming me? Thank you for any insight.

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To support a defamation claim, you need damages that are directly tied to the allegedly defaming statement. You have not suffered any damages because of his claiming you called him a rapist and I would venture to say, from what you say he is like, that no one really believes that you called him a rapist. Asking you to apologize for speaking harshly is not damages as the law sees damages.

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Thank you for taking time to help me understand. Last question: do I have any recourse with the district (for allowing the threats) or the student (for making the threats)? It seems like there has to be some way to protect myself besides finding a new job. The student has been increasingly aggressive and I'm just limping along until summer but that's not a real solution. I don't want him to get physical because nothing has been addressed.

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Hi clarification,

 

Thanks for posting and sorry to hear about what sounds like a difficult and exhausting situation. You mentioned that you have trying to address your concerns with the school administrator and HR department. Are you a member of a teacher’s union? If so, you may want to contact your union representative to discuss your concerns about your working environment.

 

Best of luck and keep us posted!

The FindLaw.com Team

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