Anatomy of a Lawsuit: What Every Education Leader Should Know About Legal Actions
Our society has always been drawn to the subject of jury trials with a mixture of fascination and anxiety, and we often tend to associate the jury process with criminal trials. In real life, including the world of public, private and parochial education, school leaders are much more likely to get involved in a civil trial. This generally means a case involving liability for alleged negligence. However, school leaders are not immune from involvement in criminal actions.
A few examples of the hundreds of situations in which school leaders have recently been involved as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or respondents include:
o Criminal defendant: sexual assault
o Civil defendant: employment discrimination
o Criminal plaintiff: coach assaulted by parent
o Civil plaintiff: teacher alleging defamation
o Character witness: student seeks diversion agreement
o Factual witness: administrator passing in hallway when science lab explodes
o Respondent to interrogatories: principal required to compile and produce employment records, curriculum guides, test scores, and more
o Consulting expert witness: school leaders helping attorneys understand high-stake testing procedures
o Testifying expert witness: explaining proper methods of instruction in the use of industrial art shop equipment
The book examines similar situations and others that have arisen out of, or due to, civil or criminal negligence on the part of school leaders, and provides examples, some of which were handled correctly with positive outcomes and others in which specific errors caused significant problems.