Understanding the Legal Responsibilities of School Boards

The roles and responsibilities of school boards have not always been clearly understood. Because the needs vary district by district, leadership and management styles may vary. The real need for each district is for boards to decide the powers and responsibilities of each board member and the board as a whole.

But things like holding regular meetings, adopting enrollment policies, implementing evaluation systems, and others are decided internally more or less. How about the legal responsibilities handed down from state governments? The legal role that each school board carries should be understood and followed as strictly as possible to avoid legal ramifications that may show up.

Legal Roles

School boards are authorized under the laws of states to adopt all needed policies and regulations for the governance, as well as the evaluation, of the district. School boards have a responsibility to provide a sufficient public education to the people and can face liabilities for not executing such an education.

There are typically three functions boards carry when performing the essential duties: legislative, executive and appraisal.

  • The legislative function refers to the policy-making portion of a school system. This is pursued by retaining and exercising full legislative authority and control over schools.
  • The executive function is focused on placing in operation existing board policies. Typically, this function is delegated to the Superintendent.
  • The appraisal function involves determining the efficiency of the school operation and an evaluation of the program as an educational program.

School boards need to follow the expectations set up for them before legal issues take place. Providing a proper and sufficient education is role number one and should be the focus for all boards.

Liability Coverage

In the event that a board faces legal woes due to not providing a sufficient public education, a school board or educators legal liability policy will step in. This kind of policy is designed to protect teachers as well as board members, volunteers, administrators, and more. A policy covers wrongful acts such as alleged breach of duty, neglect, misleading statements and other errors of an insured educator.

Here are some of the allegations found in claims:

  • Failure to educate
  • Failure to supervise a classroom
  • Loss of accreditation
  • Failure to respond or prevent bullying or harassment

The last allegation has been brought up in news studies more regularly in recent years. Teachers and administrators are having to find new ways to curb cyber bullying that now lives and spreads on social media. The handling of sexual harassment claims in public schools is also under a pointed eye as some in the community do not feel their schools’ leaders are doing enough.

Boards should be implementing the right policies and execute those policies in order to provide not only a proper education, but safety among the student body. Regardless of how effective a board and its schools are in promoting these, having Educators Legal Liability coverage lined up is still important.

About PGUI

Professional Governmental Underwriters, Inc. is a full-service risk management company dedicated to assisting public, educational and non-profit entities in the management of their professional liability exposures. We are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art professional underwriting management and loss control advisory services on behalf of our designated carriers. For more information, call us toll-free at (800) 586-6502.