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Why You Can’t Always Sue a School – Unpacking School District Immunity

school district immunity

Wanting to protect your child and defend their rights is natural. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t always make it immediately possible. School district immunity can make holding a school or one of its employees liable for damage to your child or their property extremely difficult. Because the government funds public schools, they receive particular legal protections in many cases. Immunity is designed to protect government employees and properties and can be tricky to navigate. However, it doesn’t always mean there’s no hope for your case. The more you understand school district immunity, the more you can work to defend your child.

What Is School District Immunity?

Under Texas Education Code § 22.0511, school district immunity essentially waives any liability for personal injury or property damage for schools and their employees. The protection is strongest when the injury or damage sustained is “within the scope of the duties of the employee’s position of employment.” This, obviously, is broad language that provides substantial protection. 

What Isn’t Covered by School District Immunity?

Not every instance of injury or damage is immune from liability, like cases involving motor vehicles (i.e., school buses) or excessive physical discipline. If your child was injured while in transport, then you have more freedom and potential to hold the at-fault party liable. Other instances in which motor vehicles were used and related to injury or property damage may also be more open in terms of seeking liability. It’s always a good idea to check with your lawyer before submitting any claims or lawsuits to make sure you have a strong case when you start. 

Can You Still Seek Legal Action Despite Immunity?

While it is difficult to hold a school or its employees liable for damage and injury, it’s not impossible. The Texas Education Code does leave some wiggle room for cases of excessive force or negligence. However, proving these cases isn’t always easy. But if you have the right education lawyer and a strong desire to seek justice for your child, you can present your case and potentially win.

How to Fight School District Immunity

If you plan to take on a school and hold an employee responsible for damage or injury, it’s crucial that you know how the system works and what steps you can take to help increase your odds of success.

Find an Education Lawyer

The first thing you should do is speak with an education lawyer as soon as possible. Many cases of school-based complaints or lawsuits have a relatively short time in which you can take action. The sooner you find a lawyer to take your case, the quicker you can get the ball rolling. It’s important that you work with a lawyer who has specific training in education laws. Dealing with school district immunity can be tricky for untrained attorneys. 

Consider a Non-Legal Approach

Because many legal cases with schools can be taxing, both parties can usually benefit from a less formal agreement. By filing an official complaint with your school and meeting outside of the courtroom, you and your lawyer may be able to reach a favorable conclusion without needing to file a lawsuit. While this isn’t always possible, it’s often a good first step.

Record Everything

The most important thing you can do for your case is to make a record of everything. You should save copies of every email and letter both sent and received. It’s also a good idea to make notes of phone calls and in-person meetings. Get the names and contact information of everyone you talked to. Your lawyer can help you keep track of your documentation to ensure you have what you need during your case. 

Communicate with Your Child

It can be easy to get so caught up in the legal case that you may not pay enough attention to your child during it. Children want to feel safe during school. If a school employee injured them, it’s natural for them to suffer trauma and other strong emotions. It’s critical that you maintain open communication with your child and get them any mental health help they may need. If possible, try to limit how often your child needs to be directly involved with the case. This can reduce further emotional strain.

Get Help with School District Immunity Today

If your child was injured or suffered property damage at school, you may be able to hold the at-fault party liable. Contact the Hager Law Firm today at 903-466-0001 or to schedule a consultation about your case. Our trained and experienced education lawyers are ready to help you protect your child and defend their rights. 

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