Last month I addressed the difference between liability insurance for teachers, and employment rights protection. The post has generated some discussion which is worth checking out. It also highlighted my original point in the post, which is that teachers generally are confused about what liability insurance actually covers, and that the teacher groups, unions, whatever you want to call them, tend to exploit that confusion when jockeying for members.
At least, they do that in Texas, where the competition for members is fierce. So, for your continuing professional education, today I thought I would list some things that teachers need legal help with, and whether the source of that help would be your liability insurance.
Situation Covered by Liability Insurance?
Firing from contract -No
Non-renewal from contract - No
Criminal allegations - No
Investigation by CPS - No
Arrest - No
Disciplinary action against teaching certificate - No
Grievance/complaint against you by a parent - No
Salary problems - No
Grievances over denial of rights - No
All of the unions/associations provide help for teachers in most, if not all, of the above situations. Some do it exclusively with attorneys, some use trained laypersons (union stewards), some use legal defense funds, some use insurance policies that cover legal fees. But NONE of the situations above are covered by the liability insurance provided to teachers, because that's simply not what is covered (just like your auto insurance has no relationship to whether you can buy medicine to treat your high blood pressure).
The point being that if you are primarily concerned about having an attorney to protect you from the type of false criminal allegations faced by the teacher in Soccorro ISD that I wrote about yesterday, the $6 million liability insurance policy offered by one of the groups is simply irrelevant.
What you would want to know is how much money in legal fees for criminal defense is offered by the group. Similarly, if you want to know how well you would be protected in the event of mass layoffs in your district, don't look at the amount of liability insurance, look at whether the group provides an attorney for employment rights defense and for how long. Look at whether you are entitled to an attorney for employment problems, or if the group requires you to make application to a legal defense fund and be chosen for assistance.
Liability insurance just isn't that important to classroom teachers. But employment defense is important, and the more you understand the difference, the better job you'll do of choosing a group that will back you up if there's trouble.