Texas teachers have statutory protection when they use physical force on students. Section 22.0512 of the Texas Education Code gives teachers protection from disciplinary action based on the use of force, as long as the force was “reasonable.” Of course that’s a standard that depends on the context of the situation. In the Toolbox training we talk about the need to use physical restraint on students when there is a genuine emergency. But what if there is no emergency? What if the students are very young, have special needs, and are nonverbal? How do you suppose that’s going to come out?
I’ll just cut to the Key Quote from the Commissioner’s decision:
…it is highly relevant that Petitioner’s students were special needs students who ranged from three to six years old and were acclimating to a new school environment. Most were nonverbal and thus unable to verbally report mistreatment or injuries to parents or other care providers. In the videos, the students against whom Petitioner used physical force were often sitting alone on the floor, sitting at desks, or napping and were not creating a risk of harm to themselves or other, influencing other students, or otherwise engaging in conduct requiring immediate transportation or intervention. Moreover, it is degrading for students to be lifted, pulled, or carried by their shirts; pushed out of chairs; and pulled or yanked by their arms. These actions risked injuring students and were noncompliant with Petitioner’s policies and training, as well as state law and ethical standards.
The teacher’s contract was nonrenewed by the board, and the Commissioner affirmed that decision. It’s Padilla v. Alice ISD, Docket No. 038-R1-05-2023, decided by the Commissioner on June 30, 2023. I’m pleased to let you know that WG lawyers Katie Payne (San Antonio) and Kacey Villafuerte (Rio Grande Valley) handled this one.
DAWG BONE: PHYSICAL FORCE IS PROTECTED ONLY IF IT WAS REASONABLE.
Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow: SCOTUS decisions have consequences….