Here’s what to know if you or your students have had textbooks or instructional technology materials lost or stolen.
Your school district cannot require employees to pay for textbooks or other instructional technology that is stolen, misplaced, damaged, or not returned by a student.
You’re expected only to act in “good faith” in your efforts to maintain these items.
Student Responsibility for Lost or Stolen Textbooks
Students — or a student’s parent or guardian — are responsible for each textbook not returned. Any student who fails to return all textbooks forfeits the right to free textbooks until the student, parent, or guardian pays for any unreturned instructional materials issued to the student.
These materials include textbooks, calculators, iPads, and laptops.
As provided by the policy of its board of trustees or governing body, a school district or open-enrollment charter school can waive or reduce the payment requirement if the student is from a low-income family. In such cases, the district or school may allow the student to use textbooks at school during each school day. If a textbook is not returned or paid for, the district or school may withhold the student’s records.
A district or school may not prevent a student from graduating, participating in a graduation ceremony, or receiving a diploma for a missing textbook.
Protecting Yourself in the Event of Lost or Stolen Textbooks
Administrators should know they are not allowed to require teachers to pay for missing textbooks or instructional materials, but we see cases of administration pressuring employees nonetheless. If you or your colleagues receive any indications from administrators that you are responsible for paying for lost or stolen textbooks or instructional materials, know your rights and make them known.
To cover your bases and demonstrate “good faith” in maintaining classroom materials, be sure to keep thorough documentation:
- If you sign a withdrawal form for a student without the return of a textbook, be sure that the withdrawal form indicates the book has not been returned.
- Keep a copy of the withdrawal form with your textbook records so you can account for that particular book.
- If you use class sets of books, count them before the class ends to ensure all books have been returned and stay in the classroom.
- If you find something missing from your classroom, report it missing (in writing) to the appropriate administrator as soon as possible.