Thursday, June 17, 2004

By your leave, Sassy

I couldn't go to school today. I am down with the flu. I have been shivering lst night. The bad thing is the kids also have to miss school as nobody can drive them to school.

Anyway, I just realized that there might be teachers who do not actually know the extent of their responsibilities and the consequent liabilities they have as custodians of minors. AS the speaker in one of the seminars I attended said, "What you do not know might hurt you." It will if we don't know the responsibilities we are faced with.

Teaching is not solely about imparting knowledge but has legal responsibilities to their ward attached to it. Hence, I decided I would impart some of my knowledge about the liabilities of teachers. I just hope Sassy is reading this so that she can shed more light if there is something wrong with what I have written and can correct it.

Teachers have two basic duties. These are instruction, which is to impart knowledge and supervision, taking care of their students.

From various seminars and readings I had, specifically the annotated book of Atty. Ulpiano Ulan, the New Family Code differentiates the in loco parentis clause with that of the exercise given to teachers of minors which is special parental authority. While the former is applied in the case of death, absence, or unsuitabiltiy of the minor students' parents, it is not exercised when there is actual parental authority. There is a big difference in that special parental authority is exercised concurrently with actual parental authority. It rests on the theory that while the child is in the care and custody of the person exercising SPA the parents temporarily relinquish parental authority.

What this means is that teachers have civil obligations to their wards. There are four sources of liabilities. These are: fraud, the deliberate deception of others; delay, not doing what should be done on time, like giving of grades; negligence and contravention of the tenor of obligation. From among these sources, negligence is usually what teachers have been charged with.

There are four elements of negligence. These are 1. duty - it is the duty of every teacher to show reasonable care to all "foreseeable" persons and property; 2. breach - results whenever an individual fails to provide reasonable care to forseeable plaintiff; 3. causation - the teacher must have "caused" the damage for which the victim is seeking compensation; and, 4. injury- that there is actual injury, be it emotional or physical.

How do we safeguard our own interest as teachers, then? Do what we're supposed to do, never lose contact of our students, and make sure we practice reasonable diligence in inspecting property and equipment to ensure that such is in good working condition. This especially holds true with laboratories, and technical subjects like Work Ed. Our only defense against negligence is to prove that we have acted accordingly as any normal person culd have. With that, happy teaching ahead.


Jet said...

My mom has been a teacher all her life. Highschool principal siya when she retired... but she never stopped teaching. For her, there are only 2 kinds of teachers: those who teach to live, and those who live to teach.

When you ponder upon these things, your duties and responsibilities beyond the classroom and after the class, the obligations that increase the distance between you and the blackboard to shorten the distance between you and your students, the morals that make you look up from the textbook and into your students faces... I think that's when you've lived to teach.

I wish I had a teacher like you.

Anonymous said...

elements of negligence reminds me of my liability management subject.

i hope all teachers have the same convictions as you do.


rolly said...

Hi Jet and Mari,

Thanks for the kind words. Believe me, I'm not the ideal teacher. Not just yet. I've been teaching 20 years now and still trying to find out the right formula to keep my students' attention. Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

teaching is a real vocation sabi nga many are called but few are chosen. Para tumagal ka sa pagtuturo you have to love and learn from it. Teaching is always coupled with responsibilities. Felicitation kulot!!! I personally know you and i believe that your'e one hell of a teacher!!!!


rolly said...

Hi jonix,

Bon jeur. ?comment ca va? Thanks for dropping by. Yan ang gusto ko sayo e. galing mong magpataba ng puso.

bayibhyap said...

You know, rolly, the DepEd should recognise your dedication to the profession and have you lecture the teachers and train new ones. You take the profession as a passion from which the responsibility evolves. Many others take it as a job for the pay check.

Sassy Lawyer said...

In law, the liability of teachers and school administrators stem from torts and quasi-delicts. This is found in Art. 2180 of the Civil Code:

"Lastly, teachers or heads of establishments of arts and trades shall be liable for damages caused by their pupils and students or apprentices, so long as they remain in their custody.

The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage."

As a rule, negligence is not presumed. It has to be proved. The defense is the exercise of diligence. The standard is "the diligence of a good father of a family".

The responsibility of the school administration is distinct from that of the teacher inside the classroom. Defective facilities is beyond the responsibility of the teacher who, after all, is only an employee of the school. What the law imposes on the teacher is the kind of supervision that any diligent parent would exercise over a minor child. See, the law does not talk about injury that a child may cause on himself but injury or damage he may cause to another. The test is: could the damage have been prevented? Did the teacher exercise due diligence?

Injury that a child may cause to himself while in school is another story. "Reckless imprudence" or "gross negligence" on the part of the teacher may give rise to criminal liability. For instance, a pre-school teacher leaves a cutter lying on the desk. The child picks it up and cuts himself seriously. This is not exactly within the scope of the Art. 2180 of the Civil Code. This is what the law calls "criminal negligence."

As always, it is a case to case basis.

rolly said...

Bayi, I don't know if the DepEd had given seminars like this. I think they ought to. Kawawa naman yung mga teachers na ira lang ng tira hindi nalalaman yung extent ng kanilang responsibilities.

Sassy, thanks for giving your professional expertise on the subject. Akala ko nacover ko na yung mga importante, malayo pa pala. That separates a non lawyer from a pro. Knowledgewise and writing skills wise.

cathcath said...

saludo ako sa mga teachers, tito rolly.kung walang teachers, walang abugado, doctor, nars at iba pa.
siguro kung teacher kita hindi ako mapapadala palagi sa guidance counsellor.

rolly said...

Hi cat,

What a surprise. ang sabihin mo, kung sabay tayong naging estudyante kasama mo ko sa guidance counsellor. hehehe. Thanks for dropping by

Anonymous said...

The greatest thing a teacher can do to his students is by bringing the best out of them not only to those who came out as more intelligent but also to those who are poor learner. As I had experienced when I was a student it is really difficult when you are trap in such a way that you do not know what to do in your class and you are confronted by a teacher who is known to be a terror. One of the best rewards a teacher can get is having a student comes back at you one day after so many years and tell you that he/she is now successful and you are one of the people that made this happen.

rolly said...

Hi, you're correct. There is nothing more rewarding than having a former student come up to you and thanking you for everything. Teaching seems to be a thankless job and it's one way of confirming that one did a wonderful job.

Actually, it is the poor student that needs a teacher most. The good ones don't need teachers that much. :-)
Thanks for dropping by. Care to identify yourself the next time? :-)