Resources & Insights

Schools, Educators Face Professional Liability Risks of all Kinds

January 25, 2018

The family of a New York first-grader who was suspended for more than 40 days by his charter school responded by filing a lawsuit claiming the school violated his right to a public education.

In Wisconsin, a school board agreed to pay $800,000 to settle a lawsuit in the case of a transgender former student who was initially denied a request to use the boys’ bathrooms.

And in Washington, D.C., two families whose children were sexually assaulted at charter school sued the school and its leaders for more than $100 million, alleging that employees failed to protect students from a predator on the payroll.

The above are all stories plucked from the headlines and, unfortunately, only some of the most recent examples of the professional liability exposure that charter and other schools everywhere face on a daily basis.

Every business, of course, faces a professional liability exposure of one kind or another. But academic institutions face professional risks on a regular basis that most other organizations never encounter.

According to an American Tort Reform Association survey, almost one-third of all high school principals have been involved in a lawsuit, compared to only 9 percent 10 years ago.

Typical allegations that educators have to defend themselves against include:

  • Failure to educate.
  • Failure to supervise a classroom.
  • Sexual harassment, wrongful termination or discrimination.
  • Breaches of duty, neglect, errors or omissions.
  • Failure to respond to or prevent bullying activities of the students.

The typical educators’ liability policy is designed to protect not only teachers, but also school board members, administrators, volunteers, student teachers and various members of a school’s staff.

These policies not only protect personnel from liability for monetary damages, but they also cover the costs of investigating and defending schools against claims.

It’s worth noting that coverage pays out whether your case is won or lost.

The best such policies also include crisis management coverage, which pays the expenses incurred by the educational institution to hire a crisis management firm to handle the PR.

We know that most schools are run smoothly and that most of those who work in education come to the job every day with the best intentions.

But the respect for authority has dropped in our society. School culture is more volatile. It’s simply naive to think that just because you’re trying to do a good job, you’re immune from being sued.

That’s why more schools and even individual teachers are purchasing professional liability insurance – to protect themselves from financial ruin in the event they are accused of wrongdoing or end up in court.

Morgan P. Mahoney, an Insurance Advisor at CCIG, handles the risk management and insurance needs of commercial childcare and school accounts. Reach him at 720-330-7926 or

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of risk with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

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