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Zoeller's teacher immunity bill winds through Legislature

By Keith Loria | Apr 8, 2009

Greg Zoeller (R)

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline)- A proposal to protect teachers that Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller proposed earlier this year, is on its way back to the Indiana House, after being passed by the Senate.

House Bill 1462, which contains a provision designed to better protect teachers against frivolous lawsuits filed over school discipline disputes, was passed by a Senate vote of 48-0 on Tuesday. Now it heads back to the House for possible concurrence in Senate amendments to the proposal.

"No teachers should feel inhibited from restoring classroom order, solely because they fear getting slapped with costly lawsuits," Zoeller said. "We believe House Bill 1462 will deter such suits from being filed in the first place, if disruptive students, their parents and plaintiffs' attorneys know that the State of Indiana through its attorney general will stand behind the teacher in court."

When adding the proposal earlier this year, the Republican AG said the legislation was filed in response to incidents around the state where schoolteachers said they were reluctant to discipline students who were disruptive in class, for fear of being sued.

"The bill provides for a stronger legal defense for teachers whose disciplinary actions comply with the school policy," Zoeller said. "And in those rare instances where a teacher's action does not comply with the school policy, then a student still would be able to pursue a claim in court."

If the bill is signed into law by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, the qualified-immunity portion of House Bill 1462 would take effect July 1.

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