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Armed Teachers’ “Negligent Acts” Not Covered by Florida’s School Liability Insurance Policy

March 1, 2018

The February 27, 2018, Tampa Bay Times reports that the Florida House Appropriations Committee voted for a new bill, which includes funding a “school marshal” program whereby classroom teachers are to be trained in the use of firearms that they will carry with them to school.

Proponents of arming Florida teachers note that doing so is “cost effective”:

The House and Senate program is mirrored after one implemented in Polk County schools by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who said that arming trained teachers is more cost efficient than the cost of hiring enough armed school resource officers in each school.

Funding that many school resource officers “would be a staggering amount of money,” Judd told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

So, once again teachers become the cheaper option. Note that for this profound commitment/responsibility/risk, teachers are offered a one-time $500 stipend. And no one is talking liability in this risky situation that makes teachers, schools, and districts astoundingly vulnerable. (More to come on the liability front.)

Add to the cons that not much is known about Judd’s fledgling program except that no K12 school has signed on. In fact, only a single private postsecondary institution has instituted Judd’s program, as the February 22, 2018, Tampa Bay Times reports:

…A program created by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd… allows teachers who want to be armed to go through specialized training, becoming partially deputized by sheriff’s office.

They would then be able to carry a concealed gun on K-12 campuses, and only top administrators would know who they are. Only a local private university has taken up Judd’s program.

It is unlikely that such news would be kept long from the students in a K12 setting– or free of social media exposure– or parental unrest/panic.

And let us return to the astoundingly increased liability of all involved, including the gun-toting teacher, the school, and the school district, all of which would be ripe for heretofore unknown litigation related to the presence of firearms in the classroom.

Note that in all of this, the Florida teachers must agree to 132 hours of uncompensated training– unless one counts the one-time $500 stipend as compensation.

That’s $3.79 an hour, before taxes.

What will districts kick in toward compensating armed teachers? And how much will it cost to maintain or replace an armed teacher?

Add to this the question of who supplies the gun. Not only is there a monetary cost associated with supplying the gun; the entity supplying the gun would no doubt assume a greater liability related to the weapon itself.

Where will the gun be stored after school hours? Will there be a gun cabinet at school? More liability. More and more liability.

Of course, there are the issues of purposeful targeting of armed teachers by individuals who might view it as a prize to force some sort of showdown with such teachers. Add to that the liability of a teacher’s drawing the gun on the wrong individual, or failing to use the gun in a crisis for which the teacher has been trained.

Is an armed teacher liable for failing to shoot an armed intruder? Is this a dereliction of duty, or will a teacher be excused, for example, for not having the heart to shoot one of her or his own students?

What if a student reaches for that gun, even if only out of curiosity?

What if a student gets possession of that gun? Don’t tell me it cannot happen.

Armed teachers become entangled in liability.

Who will insure them? Their school? Their district?

The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) uses AIX Specialty Insurance Company to provide its educators professional liability policy. According to that policy, armed teachers would not be covered if they make an error when using that gun. From the policy:


This policy does not apply to any claim: …

26. Alleging or arising out of:

a. any actual or alleged breach of duty, negligent act, error, omission, misstatement, or misleading statement committed by an INSURED while acting within the scope of their law enforcement activities for the educational institution; and

b. Any allegations of negligence or wrongdoing in the supervision, hiring, employment, training, or monitoring of a person whose conduct is included in Paragraph a. above.

For the purposes of this exclusion, “law enforcement activities” means activities, services, advice or instruction that is within the scope of the authorized duties of the educational institution’s law enforcement and security guard personnel. This exclusion shall also apply to any armed FULL-TIME INSTRUCTIONAL PERSONNEL.

So, armed Florida teachers, know that as of this writing, any negligent act associated with that gun is not covered by FDOE liability insurance. Supervisors connected to negligence of armed teachers are also excluded from the liability policy.

Better get that gun usage right, just like in the movies.

Will a Florida insurance company take on the risk of offering liability policies that cover negligent acts of armed teachers? If so, what would such a policy cost?

Arming Florida teachers might be legal, but it opens school districts up to a profound liability that makes the “school marshal” program a non-starter–

never mind that asinine, one-time, $500 stipend.

photo (26)


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. The real question is how much time will people waste on this lunatic diversion?

  2. Peggy Schwarz permalink

    I can’t believe that some people are still discussing this as a real option, but they are. Who will pay liability insurance? Who will pay out wrongful death lawsuits when things don’t happen like in the movies and innocents die or the good guy with a gun fails to show? What teacher in his right mind would agree to take on this terrible responsibility for a $500 stipend? Who wants to work in a building with a colleague who is that delusional and armed? So many questions I have that are not even discussed in the media. Thanks for providing the facts, Mercedes.

    • And Trump goes on and on, with such a scary gleam in his eye, about how these teachers’ guns will be concealed — no one is to know which teacher is armed. I cannot imagine the clothing choices teachers would have to make simply to play this little boy’s “spy” game.

    • Threatened Out West permalink

      Sadly, it’s actually easier to conceal weapons than you think. I had a student teacher years ago who was armed (it’s been legal in Utah for 15 years, even though it’s never “helped” with anything), and it was impossible to tell. The only way I knew was that he told me he was armed.

  3. This is yet AGAIN another attempt by the FL legislators to deflect the responsibility away from them only to be placed on our teachers. The FL legislators habitually underfund our schools and dump on our teachers. There have already been incidents of teachers leaving loaded guns in the bathroom in other states not to mention the story yesterday out of Georgia of the teacher who locked himself in a room at the school and shot the gun. The FL legislators are heavily compensated by special interests including their #1 the NRA. The FL legislators are corrupt, weak cowards.

  4. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    It would be great to have a true cost accounting from someone in the insurance business who calculates all of the risks. You have given guidance on some of the factors to consider.

  5. By far, hands down, no ifs ands or buts, arming teachers has to be the all-time lunatic, insane, outrageous, stupid, foolish, and any one of a hundred other pejorative adjectives one can think of education policy, better said malpractice, that I’ve ever encountered.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Schneider and Karrer on the Absurdity of Arming Teachers | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. If “arming teachers” can’t be insured, is the debate just a cruel charade? | The Edvocate Blog
  3. Smoking gun: FL can’t insure armed teachers from liability | The Edvocate Blog

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