Can School Districts Be Sued for Educational Misconduct?
This morning, I was thinking about my K-12 classmates and the students I taught in K-12 and higher education. I was mainly thinking about the students who the system had let down. This prompted me to consider a single question: Can schools be held accountable for educational malpractice? Continue reading to learn more.
To begin, the students I am referring to arrive at school every day eager to learn but are dismissed by their teachers and administration due to learning and behavioral issues. Strangely, the students who require the most assistance and attention are sometimes the ones who receive the least. What causes this to happen?
This occurs when teachers work with grade-level students to improve their standardized test results. When students have high test results, their principal is happy and maintains their jobs. Some instructors receive merit-based compensation, a premium granted to educators for hitting specific professional milestones if their students perform well on standardized examinations.
Who cares if the students who require the most significant assistance may coast along, obtaining inflated grades to mask their lack of learning? This is only revealed when standardized exam results are disclosed, showing that these students are functioning at a basic level.
Even that may be explained away by assuring parents and stakeholders that some students are not great test-takers, but they are learning, as indicated by their distinctive class grades. Real teachers know that significant disparities between two examinations designed to measure the same academic skills are a warning signal.
Unfortunately, no one is paying attention, and since NCLB (No Child Left Behind) was repealed, there is no mechanism to hold schools responsible for teaching all students. I was not a fan of NCLB, but I believe ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) “throws the baby out with the bathwater.” NCLB had many provisions that made it hard for schools to neglect specific students.
For example, schools have to progress their AYP (adequate yearly progress) to be successful. This means that the overall academic performance of the student population, as well as its subgroups, must improve year after year. The level of student development that schools had to demonstrate was always known well before the school year started. There were severe penalties if they did not accomplish their targets or goals, including school funding cuts. Unfortunately, many of these aims and objectives were impossible to begin with, but they may have been redesigned rather than eliminated. So, there concludes my NCLB rant.
Can schools be held liable for educational misconduct? Yes, they may be, especially if their guiding light is not the notion that all students deserve a high-quality education from instructors who will help them achieve their academic goals. If principals and educators fail to educate students properly, they commit educational malpractice.