Explainer: The Good Teacher Protection Act

Bill seeks to protect educators who step into the fray during physical altercations

Photo © NEA

With the stressors from trauma, poverty, and understaffing prevalent in so many schools, behavioral issues can manifest themselves as physical altercations. The well-intentioned educator who intervenes in an incident to prevent harm ought to have legal protection when doing so.

What If There Is a Lawsuit?

In the event of a lawsuit, House Bill 802, the Good Teacher Protection Act, will protect the educator from civil liability when an educator makes a good-faith effort to intervene and prevent harm to a student during an incident, or, in the bill language, in a “student disturbance.”

Under existing law, if an educator is sued for damages and an award is made against them, the county board of education who employs them is held financially responsible. This legislation would grant immunity to the educator so long as they were acting in good faith and there is no gross negligence. In that case, the county board would not be made to pay any award of damage.

Addressing Root Causes

The Good Teacher Protection Act is an improvement to current law and a helpful bridge to the future. The number of assaults between students and between students and educators have influenced the priorities set in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. The Blueprint’s emphasis on expanded community schools, mental and behavioral health, and increased staffing levels have the goal of remediating the stressors and underlying conditions that can culminate in physical violence and other types of disturbances in our schools.