Why is it forbidden teachers to punish students?

What are teachers allowed to do - and what is not allowed?

News - expert interviews More on the topic: expert interviews, teachers, punishments, students, parents, bans, measures, confiscation, cell phones

Punishments, bans, measures: What are teachers allowed to do and how can students defend themselves?

Put the student over the knee - that hasn't been around for a long time. Nevertheless, teachers still resort to punishment today if they do not know what to do otherwise. When can teachers punish students and to what extent? Can a cell phone be withheld even after school is over? Can a single teacher decide on the school committee? What are teachers generally allowed to do and what not? Can parents intervene and how? 123recht.de in an interview with lawyer Thomas Herz.

Every punishment must be a means of education or a measure of order

123recht.de: Mr. Herz, does the punishment have to have a specific purpose?

University law, school law, examination law - challenge to examinations, social law

Lawyer Herz: Both educational means and regulatory means in the school fulfill very specific purposes: Educational means should have an educational effect on the pupil and encourage him to observe the regulations that are indispensable for proper school operation. Regulatory measures serve both to ensure proper educational work in the school and to protect people and property within the school. However, they are only to be ordered if other educational measures or educational means are not appropriate or sufficient. In the worst case, this can lead to expulsion from school.

123recht.de: Can the student refuse to do the detention or defend himself against a punishment?

Lawyer Herz: In principle, regulatory measures are decided by a committee. The parents of the underage pupil are first informed about this and can lodge an objection in order to check the order of the regulatory measure. The objection has suspensive effect. The measure can therefore not be carried out. Only if individual pupils, through their behavior, seriously endanger the safety of other pupils, teachers or third parties and the decision on a regulatory measure therefore does not tolerate postponement, the school principal can temporarily order the necessary measure himself. Then it can only be clarified afterwards whether the order was legal. However, if the measure has not yet been resolved, the administrative court can restore the suspensive effect of the objection. If the measure has already been completed, which is often the case with educational materials used in lessons, it must be possible to demonstrate a particular interest in making a determination for a judicial clarification. This is only possible to a limited extent and can be the case, for example, if there is a risk of repetition, interest in rehabilitation or serious encroachments on fundamental rights.

Every measure must respect the educational expediency and the human dignity of the student & excl;

123recht.de: Detention or copying the school rules - are that relics or punishment still possible today?

Lawyer Herz: Any sanctioning measure must take into account the educational expediency and human dignity of the student. In this respect, there is a margin of appreciation, but measures that are solely aimed at demonstrating students, i.e. making them into mere objects, are generally inadmissible. The limit for the imposition of special duties ends where there is disproportionate interference with the freedom rights of the students. Copying the school rules will still be permitted. Detention, which is completely pulled by the hair, can, however, represent an initial suspicion for a deprivation of liberty. As a rule, however, there is an educational leeway to be observed here. Detention is therefore not per se inadmissible if this is intended to make up for missed class time.

123recht.de: Can the teacher forbid students to use the toilet during class?

Lawyer Herz: Usually yes. However, if the next break is more than 45 minutes away in double lessons or if there is an illness or disability among the students, an absolute ban would probably be disproportionate.

123recht.de: Can the teacher pull the student out of the door during the current lesson or e.g. exclude from school trips?

Lawyer Herz: He is allowed to do one thing as well as the other. In all federal states, such measures are already allowed as simple educational tools.

123recht.de: What about when teachers punish the whole class for not admitting to have done anything?

Lawyer Herz: Collective action may only be used when required by the behavior of all students in a class or group. In this respect, there is no general “collective guilt”.

Reading grades in front of the whole class is not permitted

123recht.de: "Hey Meier, that was again a 6, will you never learn it? Are grades allowed in front of the assembled class?

Lawyer Herz: Reading out bad grades or discussing a bad test in front of the whole class in order to ultimately demonstrate the student is already questionable from a pedagogical point of view. In principle, this is not allowed in any of the federal states. According to the statements of most of the data protection officers in the federal states, the announcement of grades is also an interference with data protection - a fundamental personal right.

123recht.de: Are teachers allowed to search school satchels or confiscate and read letters sent by students?

Lawyer Herz: Bag checks or searches represent encroachments on civil liberties. Even the police are only allowed to do so in certain cases. When the police act, a distinction must be made here as to whether the respective measure is of a preventive nature or, for example, serves to investigate criminal offenses. Preventive searches by the police generally require a specific cause in the form of a danger. Repressive searches to investigate criminal offenses usually require a court order. The police can only act immediately if there is imminent danger. However, teachers are only in danger in the case of criminal self-defense or emergency aid. The situation is no different when it comes to the seizure of objects. However, the temporary confiscation of objects that interfere with the lessons by the teacher is not a confiscation in the legal sense and is absolutely inadmissible.

Collecting smartphones is allowed, possibly even over the weekend

123recht.de: Can the teacher move in the student's property, such as the smartphone, if the student is playing around with it instead of following the lesson? How long can the student's objects be confiscated?

Lawyer Herz: The temporary confiscation of the cell phone is an educational tool that is intended to prevent disruption of the teaching and / or educational work, in this respect it is irrelevant whether the teacher requests the cell phone because it vibrates during the lesson or because students are paying attention to the cell phone .

A smartphone can only be withdrawn as long as the intended purpose requires it. As a rule, it will have to be returned after the lesson, although it is permissible to hand it over only to a parent or legal guardian. The cell phone may only be left over the weekend if, for example, it was confiscated on a Friday in the last lesson and it cannot be picked up by a parent or legal guardian until the following Monday.

123recht.de: What if a teacher slaps a student?

Corporal punishment of any kind is prohibited and has serious consequences for the teacher

Lawyer Herz: Any corporal punishment against students is prohibited.

123recht.de: What are the consequences for teachers who have overshot the mark?

Lawyer Herz: In repeated or severe cases of corporal punishment, the behavior of a teacher can constitute a serious misconduct, which is regularly punished with removal from service due to the final loss of confidence in the employer.

123recht.de: In such cases, who is the point of contact for parents - the school management, the education authority or even the police?

Lawyer Herz: The contact person is the school supervisory authority, which is usually located at the state school offices, regional councils or district governments. In the event of any criminal offenses, the police and the youth welfare office are of course also responsible.

Even in social networks, the mental / physical integrity as well as mental freedom and development opportunities of the students must not be disturbed

123recht.de: Are there any special features for teachers that need to be considered on social media?

Lawyer Herz: Communication between teachers and students in social networks is viewed with skepticism by many ministries of education, but generally tolerated. Here, too, teachers must note that mental and physical integrity as well as mental freedom and the possibility of development for the students are mandatory. Likewise, dealing responsibly with closeness and distance prohibits accepting friend requests. In the digital world too, privacy, data protection rights and copyrights must be protected. Students and their parents must not experience any disadvantages if they do not take part in communication via a social network. A chat group should be set as "closed" or "secret".

123recht.de: Are there differences between penalties in private schools and state schools? What about church sponsors, are there any special features?

Lawyer Herz: There are essentially no differences in the structure of sanctions. In particular, the same rules of the game apply to state-recognized substitute schools as to state schools. Schools that are not officially recognized are not free either, as they are also bound by the school's main mission. Their regulations must be measured against the fundamental rights of students and parents. This also applies to church sponsors. In practice, however, there is one special feature to consider: private schools conclude a school contract with the parents for the student concerned. Often these school contracts contain mutual termination rights. In the case of differences of various kinds, this can lead to a school contract being terminated faster than expected. The student is then practically expelled from school, which would be the "maximum penalty" in a state school. Affected parents should definitely seek expert advice here.

123recht.de: Thank you very much for the informative interview.