Can a public school instruct it’s teachers to not report incidences of violent student behavior?

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Can a public school instruct it’s teachers to not report incidences of violent student behavior?

My wife is a public high school teacher. Recently a student kicked her desk while she was sitting at it. The student is apparently autistically impaired. She told me about it and I told her to report the matter to her administration. Their response was: 1 – We can’t do anything about it, the kid is autistic and protected by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (or some such bureaucracy), and 2 – In the future, if your husband can’t handle these kinds of things, please don’t tell him. I’m a bit angry about this, is there anything I can do?

Asked on October 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The law does provide substantial protection to disabled children. It's possible that the school is being too cautious about it, but at the same time, it's entirely plausible that there is nothing the school can effectively do about kicking a teacher's desk--though if the child actually poses a real threat or risk, that's a different story; the law does not require schools to allow their staff to be threatened, menanced, or injured, and if the student should ever injure your wife, she could likely sue the district...and she could certainly also sue the child's parents, since the law re: discrimination in no way lets the disabled get a free pass at hurting people; that law only applies to schools and certain other institutions, not specifically to their employees in the context of a private lawsuit.


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