The following was included in TCTA's 2017-18 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2017 but is subject to change. The information below is for information purposes only, and is not intended to substitute for advice from an attorney.

Texas law affords teachers and other professional employees (including teacher aides, school nurses and student teachers) fairly strong immunity from liability for actions taken as part of their duties. Generally, an employee is immune from liability as long as he/she is on duty, exercising judgment or discretion, and not using excessive force or being negligent in the discipline of students.

While the definition of corporal punishment specifically excludes physical pain associated with athletic training, competition or physical education, it is possible that the assignment of rigorous physical activity such as laps, pushups, etc., could be interpreted by a court as a disciplinary action, not subject to the qualified immunity from liability, so such activity should be assigned only for training or conditioning and not as punishment.

Note that this immunity from liability applies only to lawsuits in state courts. Also note that having immunity from liability does not prevent lawsuits from being filed against school employees, so all employees should have professional liability insurance such as that provided to TCTA members. Pursuant to a TCTA-initiated law, a school district may not require an employee to assume liability for an act for which the employee has qualified statutory immunity. This immunity specifically extends to student property such as cellphones and mp3 players in the possession of a school employee pursuant to the employee’s duties (i.e., confiscated by the employee). School districts and administrators may not require such employees who act in good faith to pay for student property that is lost, stolen or damaged.

See also Instructional Material or Technology.