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Legal Memorandum: School Personnel's Supervisory Care Duty

Issue: If a special education teacher doesn’t fulfill the IEP, is the teacher is personally responsible for his breach of duty, etc. despite any lack of supervision from the director of special education or principal?

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State), Education Law
Keywords: Duty of school personnel; Supervisory care; Safety of students
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 319 A.2d 262; 366 A.2d 1337
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 06/01/2005

The following cases are relevant to this issue:

Titus v. Lindberg, 228 A.2d 65 (N.J. 1967) (“The duty of school personnel to exercise reasonable supervisory care for the safety of students entrusted to them, and their accountability for injuries resulting from failure to discharge that duty, are well-recognized in our State and elsewhere.”).

Pietrunti v. Board of Educ. Of Brick Township, 319 A.2d 262 (N.J. App. Div. 1974) (“[A] teacher is something more than a classroom automaton.  A teacher is a professional who has by education and training obviously dedicated himself or herself to the education of youth.  A teacher is expected to exhibit loyalty to the district in which he or she is employed and to cooperate with the administration in seeking the educational goal.  Appellant would relegate a teacher to a "rank and file" member of an organization who seeks some communal goal of self-aggrandizement.  It is the individuality each teacher brings to the educational scheme that contributes to educational success; that individuality, however, must be sublimated to the educational goal.  A teacher is expected to show a reasonable respect for the authority of his or her employer and to maintain a civility commensurate with his or her professional status.”).

Gish v. Board of Educ. of the Borough of Paramus, 366 A.2d 1337 (N.J. App. Div. 1976) (“School boards are entrusted by our Legislature with the duty of determining the general issue of fitness of teachers. They […]

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