Professional Malpractice

Perhaps the most novel cause of action in this lawsuit is the one based on Professional Malpractice based on the strong premise that teachers and educational administrators (like Ms. English) are professionals with a special fiduciary relationship with students and parents requiring them to exercise a professional standard of care with respect to providing  a learning and social environment where their children are safe and protected from intentional, reckless or negligent actions of teachers, staff, administrators that could cause them physical or emotional harm.

The focus is different than educational malpractice cases that focus on the effectiveness of teaching. This cause of action focuses on the duty of professional educators to put the well-being of their students above other personal considerations. Here are the pertinent portions of the Complaint:

PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE (Paragraphs 121-127 of the Complaint)

121. Plaintiffs re-allege paragraphs 1-111 as if set forth in full herein.

122. Defendant Elizabeth English (ENGLISH) is an educational professional who was the head of ARCHER, a school attended by CHILD 1 and CHILD 2 at all pertinent times herein.

123. As a professional educator and the head of school, ENGLISH has  a professional fiduciary relationship with and duty towards to all students, including CHILD 1 and CHILD 2 to:

a) Provide a learning and social environment where students are safe and protected from intentional, reckless or negligent actions of teachers, staff, administrators (including ENGLISH), and members of the ARCHER BOARD OF TRUSTEES (ABOT) that could cause them physical or emotional harm.

b) Assure that all her actions, as well as the actions of teachers, staff, administrators, and members of ABOT actions affecting students:

1)    Meet or exceed standards of conduct and ethics expected of professional educators.

     2)    Honor and comply with the policies and philosophy of ARCHER as conveyed to students and parents when they enrolled and thereafter.

     3)    Are ethical, fair, respectful, responsible, honest and caring.

c) Set a good example for students, staff, administrators and parents and personally refrain from any conduct that is, or could reasonably construed as, malicious, arbitrary, capricious, or vindictive, unprofessional or unethical.

d) Assure that all educational and disciplinary decisions regarding students, including those affecting enrollment, such as expulsions and suspensions, and other issues affecting matriculation and graduation place the best interests of the student above all other considerations, except where there is a clear and compelling institutional interest that would be compromised thereby.

124. As a professional educator and the head of school, ENGLISH has a professional fiduciary relationship with and a duty toward all parents who have entrusted the intellectual, social, emotional and moral development of their children to her and the school she administers (including AJ and MJ) to:

a) Provide a learning and social environment where their children are safe and protected from intentional, reckless or negligent actions of teachers, staff, administrators (including ENGLISH), and members of the ARCHER BOARD OF TRUSTEES (ABOT) that could cause them physical or emotional harm.

b) Assure that all her actions, as well as the actions of teachers, staff, administrators, and members of ABOT actions affecting their children:

1)    Meet or exceed standards of conduct and ethics expected of professional educators.

     2)    Honor and comply with the policies and philosophy of ARCHER as conveyed to students and parents when they enrolled and thereafter.

     3)    Are ethical, fair, respectful, responsible, honest and caring.

c) Set a good example for their children as well as for other students,  staff, administrators and parents and personally refrain from any conduct that is, or could reasonably construed as, malicious, arbitrary, capricious, vindictive, unprofessional or unethical.

d) Assure that all educational and disciplinary decisions regarding their children, including those affecting enrollment, such as expulsions and suspensions, and other issues affecting matriculation and graduation place the best interests of the student above all other considerations, except where there is a clear and compelling institutional interest that would be compromised thereby.

e) Unless there are circumstances that make it clearly unreasonable or impractical, provide ample and fair notice to parents of any potential adverse action against their children and the opportunity to inform administrators of any special factors concerning their children that would be relevant to the fair disposition of the disciplinary matter and to collaborate with administrators to determine what manner of discipline would advance the best interests of their child.

125. In her interactions and decisions with respect to CHILD 1, CHILD 2, AJ and MJ (as more specifically alleged herein) ENGLISH failed to use the skill and care that a reasonably careful school administrator would have used in similar circumstances and, instead, violated fundamental professional standards, ARCHER policies and philosophies, and common standards of professional and personal ethics including objectivity and accountability, fairness, respectfulness, responsibility, honesty and caring.

126. ABOT and its individual members failed in their fiduciary responsibility to assure that ENGLISH performed all her duties at a level that met or exceeded the professional standard of care for professional educators and educational administrators.

127. The failure of ENGLISH to perform her duties in a manner that meets or exceeds the standard of care for meet the standard of care for professional educators and educational administrators and of ABOT and the members of ABOT to assure that she did so is a substantial and proximate cause of all damages alleged herein.

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