Teacher files lawsuit over termination after use of force on… | TCTA
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Gavel, law books and scales of justice

Teacher files lawsuit over termination after use of force on student

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A kindergarten teacher was involved in a physical altercation with a student. The teacher claimed that she applied reasonable force to the student's hands to keep the child from hitting other students, but the district's investigation found that the teacher caused injury to the child by restraining her arm behind her and slamming her to the floor, causing her mouth to bleed. Despite the dispute regarding the underlying facts, the teacher was suspended from her teaching duties and reassigned to work at a football stadium fieldhouse.

The district proposed the mid-year termination of the teacher's contract. The teacher ultimately contested that proposed termination, but then withdrew her appeal. While that was pending, the district's board of trustees proposed the nonrenewal of the teacher's contract at the end of the year. The teacher had the option to contest that decision as well, but chose not to and instead filed a lawsuit in federal court.

At district court, the teacher made many arguments that she normally would have made at a nonrenewal hearing. Specifically, she argued that the Texas Education Code protects a teacher's use of force under certain circumstances. She also argued that the district failed to consider her evaluations when it proposed the nonrenewal of her contract. The district court dismissed her case and she appealed.

The Court of Appeals held that the teacher's lawsuit should be dismissed. Teachers have the right to contest the proposed nonrenewal of their contract by requesting a hearing. If they disagree with the outcome of that hearing, they have the right to appeal that decision to the commissioner of education, district court and the courts of appeal, as appropriate. However, the teacher did not request a hearing and simply filed a lawsuit. Therefore, she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies prior to going to court.