Court: Teachers can sue over assaults

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Monday that teachers have standing to sue the Lansing School District for allegedly failing to follow state law and expel four students accused of assaulting the teachers, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Experts told the Journal that the 4-3 ruling has implications beyond Lansing by loosening the standard for people who want to file certain civil lawsuits.

The case grew out of four separate alleged incidents from 2005 to 2007, one involving a student who slapped a teacher on the back, two involving throwing chairs at teachers, and one case of throwing a spiked bracelet that struck a teacher, according to the Journal. The district did not take steps to expel the students, and the teachers then sued.

The ruling voids a "standing doctrine" adopted in 2001 that created a strict test of harm for people who want to file civil suits against others, according to the Journal.

Lower courts had ruled in favor of the school district, saying that school boards have discretion in how to handle discipline, the Journal reported.

Lansing State Journal, "Teachers have right to sue over assaults, court decides in Lansing case," Aug. 3, 2010

Michigan Education Digest, "Students expelled in teacher/drug case," March 14, 2009