There may be some interest in the Lege next Session to beef up PC 9.62, the "teacher discipline" justification/defense, to give teachers more protection.
Leaving aside the details for now, my question is:
Are we prosecuting teachers for excessive discipline of their students? I can't remember hearing of any teacher-on-student assault cases that weren't sexual in nature. I'm wondering if this potential change isn't a solution in search of a problem ...
We regularly review cases involving allegations of teacher discipline. I can't recall any case in which the current law did not appropriately address the circumstances.
I have this exact issue coming up right now in the context of a juvenile's assault on a teacher. The juvenile is claiming he kicked the teacher repeatedly in the ankle in self-defense after the teacher grabbed him. To me, the problem is not the statute, but the complete lack of cases after 1900 that comment on the teacher's right to use force (in what would otherwise be an assault) to control a student in the classroom. As a complicating factor, the child is claiming an impulse control problem keeps his actions from being done intentionally, knowingly or recklessly. Roughly akin to temporary insanity. Just my luck--the first juvenile trial in this county in twenty years will be whether or not the kid should be placed on standard probation for a Class A assault. I don't think COURTTV will be covering this one.
I suspect you are not finding cases on reasonable discipline by teachers because most offices have the good sense to no-file these.
We were brought a case last year against a teacher for injury to a child. No Billed. The teacher accidentally?? tossed a container of hand lotion at an unruly student late on a Friday afternoon. The student was treated at the ER and diagnosed with a concussion. Just guessing, but maybe the GJ thought a felony was a little overreaching for the crime.
We've had a couple of cases in our office that never survived the Grand Jury. One of the cases may have actually presented probable cause to support an indictment, but I have a feeling there is a fairly strong public sentiment out there that teachers' hands are tied and Little Johnny needs more discipline than the schools are giving.
Changing the topic just a little bit: a police officer has related the following scenario (I have not personally reviewed the file). Two students fight inside a classroom. The teacher does not stop the fight. One student definitely wins the fight. The injuries are not equal. The officer's question is can he charge the teacher with injury to a child by ommission. Officer feels that the teacher had a responsibility to attempt to stop the fight but ommitted to act. My gut reaction is no. Any thoughts?
For a person to commit a crime of omission, there must be a stated statutory duty somewhere that requires the person to act in a particular way. For example, a parent, as listed in the Family Code, has a statutory duty to feed a child, so starving the child is a crime of injury by omission.
Is there a statutory duty to stop a fight?
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