Elementary classroom teachers' knowledge of tort liability for negligence

Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Administration and Supervision

First Advisor's Name

Sarah W.J Pell

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Allen Fisher

Third Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson

Date of Defense



The purpose of this research study was to investigate the legal knowledge of Florida's public elementary classroom teachers in the area of tort liability for negligence. A second purpose of the study was to assess the knowledge of school law in the area of negligence according to specific variables to determine if significant differences in knowledge existed among groups of teachers classified by: years of teaching experience, whether or not teachers took a school law course or inservice, college degree held and whether or not teachers had administrative experience. A validated survey instrument consisting of 22 scenarios based on decided court cases in the United States was utilized. These cases included court decisions ranging from 1938-1994, and represented the categories of duty and standard of care, proper instruction, proper supervision, proper maintenance, field trips, and post-injury treatment.

A random sample of 420 elementary classroom teachers were sent the survey instrument to complete, and a total of 309 surveys were returned producing a return rate of 77%. The results of this research study revealed that the overall level of legal knowledge of public elementary classroom teachers in the State of Florida produced a mean percent correct of 53%. The range of scores varied from 18%-82%, with the approximate average of correct answers of 12 out of 22. The category of proper instruction produced the lowest mean percent correct of 35%, and the area of post-injury treatment yielded the highest mean percent correct of 78%.

The findings of this study emphasize the necessity of preparing teachers regarding their legal rights, duties and responsibilities. The need for teachers to receive training at the preservice and inservice levels has become clear by this study.



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