Most educational institutions have school buses that transport students from home to school and back home at the end of a school day. These same vehicles are used during school activities outside campuses including sporting activities with other schools or field trips.
But in the event that a student misses a bus or a teacher is going in the same direction as a student, are teachers allowed to drive students in their cars? Do schools have any regulations governing this and are their teachers allowed to drive students in their vehicles?
On the surface, it’s easy to see this as an innocent act that would benefit the student who’s probably waiting for transportation or in need of one. However, do schools allow their teachers to undertake such actions?
Can School employees Drive Students In Their Vehicles
No, teachers should refrain from driving students in their cars unless they have written permission from both the school administration and parents or in the event of an emergency.
Teachers and other school employees that drive students in their personal cars would be taking a huge risk. Written approval from both parents and the school is necessary to avoid any challenges. Even in such cases, it’s still inadvisable to transport students in your car.
That said, there may be instances where someone might need to transport a student urgently. In such a situation, it’s advisable to have an administrator inside the car when transporting the student to a health facility.
Why Teachers Shouldn’t Drive Students
While a teacher driving their students to a school event or activity, or home may seem like an innocent and kind gesture, most educational institutions have instituted policies against this action to protect both parents and students.
Most districts and educational institutions have instituted policies governing teachers transporting students in their personal vehicles. Teachers identified to be in violation of these policies can face consequences including suspension and mandatory dismissal.
Keep in mind that the district or the educational institution stands to face consequences should any issues arise from a teacher’s disregard of such regulations.
The majority of jurisdictions forbid employers from paying for or acquiring private motor insurance on the owner’s or employee’s behalf. The cost of insurance is typically included in the mileage or car allowance that the employer pays for actual use.
Although institutions can buy liability insurance for non-owned cars, this insurance often goes beyond what the owner of the private car covers. That means that teachers who transport students are responsible for providing the primary liability coverage through their personal auto insurance.
The teacher becomes responsible for anything that happens to the student, including unforeseen situations like an accident. By extension the school and district become liable. To avoid this, licensed transportation personnel are employed or parents are responsible for transporting students both from and to school.
One very important reason why teachers should refrain from driving students has to do with student accusations of impropriety. Most teachers, especially male teachers are aware of how easy a teacher’s life and career can be ruined in the event of an accusation.
While this may be the worst-case scenario, teachers accused of any form of impropriety by students may be suspended while criminal investigations are opened. In a litigious society, every action or activity taken should be heavily contemplated to avoid any misunderstandings.
Teachers suspended in the course of such an investigation would receive no payment even as investigations could take months to years. Additionally, teachers need to face the court of public opinion which instantly views male teachers as guilty in cases involving male teachers and female students.
Some teachers have had their careers and lives ruined as a result of a student’s accusation of impropriety. Even inside school, most teachers refrain from interacting with students behind locked doors to avoid any possible issues or accusations.
Opposite sex transportation (male coach/female athlete, female teacher/male student), as well as one school employee/one student transportation, should be strongly discouraged.
While it’s true that teachers serve as guardians and mentors to students in school, there’re policies instituted by districts and educational institutions to protect the interests of the district, schools, students, and teachers.
When Can Teachers Drive Students In Their Cars
Although it’s not advisable for teachers to drive students in their personal vehicles, there might be cases where this is allowed.
Even though a district’s policy mandates that ill or wounded children or workers be taken to medical treatment in an emergency vehicle, there may be times when this is not practical or timely.
For example, when the delay for an emergency vehicle is lengthy given the gravity of the injury or when no emergency vehicle is known to be available, which might lead to a bigger liability being incurred.
Teachers in this case can drive the student to the nearest health facility. That said, teachers should ensure that there’s another teacher or an administrator, present in the vehicle during the transport.
Teachers who would like to transport students in their private cars for one reason or the other should receive permission from the school and written consent from the parent of the student.
This would make it possible for the teacher to transport the student in their personal vehicles. That said, this doesn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be any issues, especially in the event of an accident or student accusation of impropriety.
Unless in extreme situations it’s advisable for teachers to refrain from driving students. A written permission may legally permit you to drive a student in your car, but cannot protect you from any unforeseen events.
There have been multiple cases where students accused teachers of improper behavior which led to the end of their careers and even jail time. While this is may not happen, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
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Can Students Ride With Parents After An ‘Away’ School Event
In the event that students drive in the school’s transportation to a school-sponsored event, it’s expected that they return in the school’s transportation with their group.
Parents of students or any friend’s parents who would like to drive a student would need permission from the school’s administration. Outside any permission from the relevant authorities, all students are expected to return on board the school’s official transportation.
A typical example is the case of athletes going for a school-sponsored event or activity. Students or athletes are expected to travel to and from the event location with the school group using the school’s specified mode of transportation.
Any parent or friend’s parent at the location of the event, seeking to transport a student would need prior permission in the form of a signed transportation waiver form, from the administration of the school district administration.
Once permission has been acquired, a teacher or the school’s representative would be responsible for ensuring that the student leaves the school event with his/her parent or guardian.
Can Students Drive Themselves From School Events
In the event that the district or the educational institution is providing transportation to school-sponsored events, students are mandated to leverage the available transportation. However, parents and guardians should be notified if the district or school does not offer transportation and students must drive themselves to and from the event.