Protecting Your Rights
MSTA has been helping teachers with their legal questions and concerns for more than 150 years. Members with employment-related legal issues can contact the Legal Services Department directly. There is no need to speak with a shop steward, local president or other go-between. MSTA's full-time Legal Services Department works with a network of attorneys throughout Missouri to assist members with school-employment issues. Benefits also include free workshops regarding teacher rights and responsibilities as well as representation at school board meetings, DSS investigations, and DESE licensing hearings.
A number of materials are available in the resources on the left of the page. If you need further assistance, contact the Legal Services Department at 866-343-6186. You can also email email@example.com. Please keep in mind that emails sent from a school computer or school email account are not private.
Professional Liability Insurance
Advice isn't your only benefit. Your membership includes liability insurance with a benefit of up to $2 million per occurrence. The policy protects you in the classroom and in other school-related activities. Coverage includes the following:
- Coverage for defense of civil claims—When coverage applies, the policy will pay to defend you against civil claims and pay damages assessed against you arising out of activities conducted in your professional capacity.
- Criminal acts reimbursement coverage—You may receive up to $35,000 reimbursement for attorney fees and costs incurred in a criminal proceeding against you arising in the course of activities in your professional capacity if you are acquitted or charges against you are dismissed. The policy may reimburse you up to $10,000 for attorney fees and costs incurred as part of a police investigation or case prior to the commencement of any criminal proceedings.
- Bail bond coverage—The policy pays a bail-bond premium up to $5,000 for activities arising in your professional capacity.
- Personal property damage coverage — Reimbursement of up to $2,500 may be paid for damage to or destruction of your personal property caused by an assault upon you that arises out of authorized activities in your professional capacity.
- Policy details—Call MSTA at 866-343-6186 to request a printed copy of the policy.
- Identity theft protection—Coverage includes 24/7 customer claims service, income protection, expense reimbursement, identity-restoration services and more should you become a victim of identity theft.
- AD&D coverage—Your membership includes a $10,000 accidental death and dismemberment policy with 24-hour-a-day coverage.
What to do if you think you have a legal problem:
- Before problems arise, document all pertinent facts. Start the habit of making notes about any out-of-the-ordinary incidents. Jot down a brief description of who, what, when, where and how. Take notes during or after visits or meetings with supervisors regardless of the circumstances of the visit. If a problem arises later, your notes will help resolve it. Please make sure you maintain your documentation in a secure place where it will remain confidential.
- Make copies. Copy evaluations, memos, correspondence, e-mails, job targets & everything you receive and everything you send that relates to your status as an employee of the school district. Keep this documentation organized in one location for easy access. Obtain and review a copy of your school board policies. A copy should be posted on your school website.
- Contact MSTA. When faced with unusual circumstances, call MSTA sooner rather than later. In addition to legal advice, we can provide you with practical strategies for approaching sensitive situations and prevent further escalation. We also will assist you in providing notice to reserve your rights under the professional liability insurance policy. Be prepared to send copies of all relevant documentation.
- Take another person with you to any meetings if you can. If you are called into a meeting regarding a serious matter, you may wish to have another person with you. When circumstances permit, your MSTA field coordinator is available for such meetings. Remember, administrators are not required to permit others in the meeting, so make a respectful request for a support person, rather than a demand. If the request is denied, do not refuse to attend the meeting or act in a manner that may be considered insubordinate. If you attend alone, take complete notes, get copies of any documents issued or discussed, and sign any documents that acknowledge your receipt of a copy. If the request for a support person is granted, the person you bring in should be quiet and polite. He or she is there to provide moral support and to listen¬ to argue on your behalf.
- Don't resign. If you are asked to resign in a meeting with or without representation, insist on time to think about your answer and to check with MSTA for advice. Even if you are pressured to act immediately, you have legal due process rights, so there is always time to seek advice and make an informed decision.
The legal information provided on this website is for general purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for individual legal advice or the provision of legal services. Accessing this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Individual legal situations vary greatly and readers should consult directly with an attorney. Eligible MSTA members should contact the MSTA Legal Services Department.