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Delta-Lawyer
Delta-Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 3546
Experience:  In-House Counsel & Litigator
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I am on the board of a private religious school. some of our

Customer Question

i am on the board of a private religious school. some of our teachers transport students for a fee. they are doing so for their own account and we do not bill for these services. we offer our own bussing service but its more expensive. the teachers who are transporting some of our students have normal driver licenses and registrations and insurance not designed for commercial or school transportation. after some unofficial legal consultation we realized that we are connected to these teachers and may be held partially responsible for their actions due to a clear legal nexus between us and them as our employees 1) is this practice illegal? 2) does this practice expose us to legal liability? 3) should we create a policy to officially ban this practice? 4) as opposed to outright banning, can we get parents who choose to use this service to sign a hold-harmless letter in favor of our school? 5) is there any scenario that is acceptable in which teachers would change their driving license class, their vehicle registration classification and their insurance policy type to make this practice legit and eliminate to a high degree our exposure to liability? 6) if the police stopped any of the these teachers transporting our students and somehow found out that they are being driven for a fee and realized that the teachers are doing this using their personal vehicles would they permit them to go on their way? would they arrest them? what is their legal status technically? 7) if you recommend creating a policy prohibiting this practice, what is our response towards teachers who are proven to continue transporting our students in violation of our policy? would we be allowed to terminate them if we add this option to our policy?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 10 months ago.

I will answer your questions in the order in which they appear. I am a licensed attorney with over a dozen years of experience handling matters such as this one. It is a pleasure to assist you today.

1) is this practice illegal? Yes, it is legal, but it is also legally risky for your school for a number of reasons, including but not limited to liability to the children in the event of an accident and even liability for worker's compensation to the teacher if injured as well (arguably).

2) does this practice expose us to legal liability? Absolutely. You have teachers transporting children to school without commercial licenses, for pay and the teachers work for the school. There is a nexus between the teachers and the school. Liability exists not only to the kids but to anyone that the teacher runs into as well suing.

3) should we create a policy to officially ban this practice? In my opinion, yes...or require the teachers to get commercial licenses and sign waiver of responsibility contracts that include indemnification clauses.

4) as opposed to outright banning, can we get parents who choose to use this service to sign a hold-harmless letter in favor of our school? Yes, but that does not protect the school from other drivers suing if they were hit by one of these teachers transporting students.

5) is there any scenario that is acceptable in which teachers would change their driving license class, their vehicle registration classification and their insurance policy type to make this practice legit and eliminate to a high degree our exposure to liability? Yes, as stated above...new license...commercial insurance...waiver of liability and indemnify the school of the school has to pay for their mistake.

6) if the police stopped any of the these teachers transporting our students and somehow found out that they are being driven for a fee and realized that the teachers are doing this using their personal vehicles would they permit them to go on their way? would they arrest them? what is their legal status technically? They would likely issue them a citation and call for a bus to come to the scene to transport the children to school. It is unlikely they would be arrested though.

7) if you recommend creating a policy prohibiting this practice, what is our response towards teachers who are proven to continue transporting our students in violation of our policy? If they continue to do this for pay, and it violates the policy and stance of the school, it should be automatic termination. It is just too risky for a private school from a liability standpoint.

8) would we be allowed to terminate them if we add this option to our policy? Absolutely.

Let me know if you have any other questions or comments.

Please also rate my answer positively (three or more stars) so I can receive credit for my response.

Best wishes going forward!

Expert:  Delta-Lawyer replied 10 months ago.

Just checking to see if you had any additional questions or comments. I want you to be as comfortable as possible on this issue moving forward. Thanks

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your informative reply. Since i had ordered an in-depth response can you please elaborate more on the disadvantages of using waivers? I was told it is a bad idea and I need to convince the board that outright banning of the private transportation service offers better protection than having parents and staff sign waivers. 1) Can you list 3 points that point out the dangers, loopholes and liabilities that we may face by offering waivers or hold harmless letters as a way out? I was told by a board member that we should not put a policy because enforcing it is almost impossible. But that sounds unreasonable to me. A policy can be enforced to the extent that we as a school board are informed of any violations afterwhich we can take action. My limited knowledge in the law tells me that we cannot be held liable for a policy that is being broken unless we are aware of it. 2) Can you elaborate on why it is completely reasonable to make a policy that bans private transportation as long as we are consistent in applying and enforcing it? I am ready to give you a high rating for your amazing help. Thank you in advance for your prompt response.