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The legal ramifications of trying to do the right thing

Parents and educators know how difficult it can be to teach children to make smart, good decisions in their lives. But because this is one of the most important lessons children can learn, most people go to great lengths to set a good example and strive to send the message that doing the right thing -- even when it's difficult -- can be best for everyone.

Unfortunately, there are far too many examples of people wrongfully penalized or persecuted for trying to live up to this expectation. And when these people include teachers and educators, it can be particularly upsetting.

Fired for reporting abuse?

For instance, recently, the former principal of a Florida private school filed a lawsuit against the academy after it fired him and his wife, who was also working at the school. He claims that the school fired him to stop him from reporting suspected abuse by one of the teachers.

The principal reportedly saw a surveillance video showing the teacher striking the student and pulling his hair. He then notified the owner of the school and argued that someone needed to notify the authorities.

Instead of taking such action, the owner allegedly refused to call police or fire the teacher. The owner also prohibited the principal from filing a report or disciplining the teacher. The principal and his wife were fired less than a week later. He filed a lawsuit against the school.

Sending the right message

Educators must protect children and ensure they have a safe place to learn. If a situation arises where someone mistreats a child in school, they have a duty to take action on the child's behalf.

However, teachers and school administrators can be hesitant to take these steps if they are fearful that the school will punish them for reporting abuse or disciplining an abusive party. This can leave students vulnerable to ongoing mistreatment, so it is crucial for anyone in this position to consult an attorney if they fear retaliation or other wrongful acts for reporting misconduct in a school.

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