As School-Related Civil Rights Complaints Surge, So Do Lawsuits

Educators Liability

As new data from the U.S. Department of Education comes out showing an overwhelming trend of complaints being filed each year, over 10,000 filed last year alone compared to just over 3,000 in 1980, it reminds us of how hard it is to be a teacher or school administrator in today’s complex world.

With 46% (or 4,806) of those complaints resulting from the mistreatment of children, including improper restraint or seclusion of children with disabilities, the figures represent the highest number ever and a 58% increase over the previous year. You can’t help but ask the question, is this increase due to undertraining of our teachers or are we overwhelming our teachers by asking them to do more with less help?.

Since The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) began tracking the complaints in 2011, the number of alleged cases reported annually has essentially doubled. The total number of complaints rose 50% since 2010, when the department logged 6,933 cases. Complaints of sexual violence on college and university campuses also have exploded, the findings show: In just the past five years, complaints at the post-secondary level rose from 11 to 164.

Among other findings:

• 28% of complaints were related to sexual discrimination, with 229 complaints overall involving sexual violence;
• While racial harassment complaints over the past five years have risen, on average, over the previous five years, the number of complaints in 2015 actually dropped about 17% compared to 2014;
• Overall, the number of complaints of all types received in the 2015 fiscal year rose 88% since a decade earlier, the findings show.
The report also noted that the OCR is working with the Justice Department in cases regarding the rights of transgender students’ access to restrooms and locker rooms “consistent with their gender identity.”

U.S. Education Secretary John King said recently that restrictions on which bathrooms transgender students use “are hateful laws and should be repealed.” He said the laws, such as those in North Carolina and Mississippi, send “a deeply problematic message to young people in schools and should be changed.”
King said the Obama administration was considering “enforcement actions” in North Carolina and Mississippi — administration lawyers have said in court filings that such legislation violates federal law. “My hope is legislators will realize they’ve made a terrible mistake,” King said.
Click on the link below to see the graph by USA Today:

We can debate the reason behind these statistics all day, but the fact remains true to this day – when you have human interaction, mistakes will be made, whether on purpose or by accident. That is why our job is so important as insurance professionals to help protect our schools, teachers and administrators and communities by providing them with the best possible Educators Legal and EPL policies on the market.

Leave it to “The Authority” for everything Public Entity and Educators-related and call us today!

Ned Daly 804.272.8060
Grey Lester 804-272-5964
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