Protecting Alabama’s Teachers
By ALLEN FARLEY / Guest Columnist
Educators are among Alabama’s most prized assets and they deserve the same protection that every other state employee and nearly all private sector employees receive. That’s why, over the past four years, the Alabama Legislature has passed laws that provide teachers and education employees with complete liability protection when performing their job duties…..at absolutely no cost.
The first law was Act 2013-215, which established the Educator’s Liability Trust Fund to provide personal liability protection to education employees from lawsuits resulting from the performance of their job duties. Much like the State employee’s liability trust fund, the ELTF operates much like an insurance company. The liability coverage provided through the ELTF is $1 million per occurrence, at no out-of-pocket cost to the education employee.
For far too long, teachers and education personnel were the only state employees forced to pay out-of-pocket for liability coverage. Now, thanks to legislation passed in 2013, every public school teacher and education employee has free access to state-funded liability coverage for the first time in Alabama history.
The Educators Liability Trust Fund provides teachers and education employees with up to $1 million per occurrence in free liability coverage if a lawsuit is filed against them in the performance of their job duties, which includes personal legal defense.
The second law was Act 2014-124, commonly known as Statutory Immunity. This law provides complete protection for education employees from being sued for personal liability damages when carrying out the duties and functions of their job, pursuant to school board policies and procedures, unless the actions in question are done maliciously, fraudulently, in bad faith, or beyond the authority of the education employee.
All employees of local school boards in the State of Alabama are covered, including: teachers, student teachers and aides, coaches, administrators, custodians, lunchroom workers, and office staff. While automotive liability insurance should be in place to protect bus drivers while operating their vehicles, the ELTF covers them while performing their job duties and approved functions other than actual operation of the vehicle.
Why do Alabama’s education employees need additional liability coverage?
When teachers and education employees are performing their job duties, the protections of Statutory Immunity and ELTF remove the need to pay out-of-pocket or join professional service organizations in order to obtain liability coverage.
Statutory Immunity completely protects education personnel from any personal liability from lawsuits while the Educator Liability Trust Fund (ELTF) covers any gap in protection by providing up to $1,000,000 per occurrence, including personal legal defense, all free of charge.
For assistance and to begin immediate legal defense, Alabama education employees can call the Risk Management Division at (334)223-6120.
Allen Farley represents House District 15 in the Alabama Legislature.