Can A Teacher Refuse To Teach You?

Teaching provides satisfaction and a truly humbling experience, but sometimes, it can get too much. One of the questions many people most likely wonder about, but few have the answer to, is whether a teacher can refuse to teach a student.

A teacher can refuse to teach, but only in specific scenarios. For example, if a student is disrupting the class, which has happened multiple times, a teacher can refuse them. Disruptions leading to the teacher being unable to speak and students not being able to learn can provoke this decision.

There is a fine line between refusing and not wanting to teach. For this reason, you should study the law and rules carefully to understand when a teacher can restrict to guide you.

When Can A Teacher Refuse To Teach You?

A classroom can have various scenarios of teacher and student conflict. In some instances, the teacher can refuse to teach a student and still act within the law of education and most schools’ regulations.

Disruptive Students In Classroom

One of the reasons a teacher may refuse to teach you is because of disruptive behavior. For example, were you interrupting the teacher while they tried to give instructions? Blurting out and keeping teachers from successfully delivering their lessons will be classed as disruptive conduct.

This behavior is concerning, especially if the teacher tries to deal with it many times, but the student still doesn’t cooperate. Interrupting the teacher also leads to the other students in the class being distracted, ultimately influencing their learning.

Teachers can refuse to teach disruptive students that get many reprimands and still don’t want to cooperate with the teacher and fellow students.

Violent And Abusive Students In Classroom

Violent behavior is a severe reason for concern in any school or learning environment. Violence might be one of the top reasons a teacher refuses to teach those students any longer. This behavior could be a full-on tantrum or physical abuse toward any other student or teacher.

Another way of abuse can entail humiliating the teacher or other learners in front of the class. It can also refer to foul language and attacking the teacher’s character or those of other students.

Another incident that falls under violent and abusive behavior would be any harm done to the property of the school or teacher.

What Are The Consequences of Refusing To Teach?

The steps that schools follow differ, but the Texas Education Code (TEC) provides guidance on situations like these so that everyone is clear and a resolution is found promptly.

It is fundamental that the teacher communicates with the principal and updates them on the situation. They must explain why they refuse to teach the student, and possible reasons the child may be acting out. There are a few options to look at when a teacher refuses to teach a student:

  • Move the student to another classroom – If the student’s friends influence them poorly, it might be an effective strategy to move the student to another classroom, away from their close peers. The student may respond better to working with another teacher.
  • In-school suspension – This option will lead to the student being removed from class and receiving lessons on a one-to-one basis from a different faculty member without being in contact with other students. Unfortunately, this option is not always possible because of the lack of staff.
  • Discipline alternative education placement – A temporary placement in a behavioral program or class to try and address the situation and fix it instead of expulsion.
  • Expulsion – The most drastic option if none of the other interventions worked and no cooperation between the teacher, student, and parents seems viable. Immediate expulsion may be the choice, depending on how drastic the behavior was.

The best way for a teacher to act in order to avoid blame or responsibility is to document and follow the necessary policies set out by the school. This way, they will have proof that the situation was handled in a professional and reasonable fashion, and that there are no discriminative motives.

For teachers who would like tips on how to manage difficult behavior, check out this video:

When Can A Teacher NOT Refuse To Teach You?

Luckily for students, there are instances where the teacher cannot refuse to teach you, and if they do, there might be consequences for them.

When The Curriculum Goes Against Teacher’s Belief

A teacher should teach the curriculum set out by the state of district. Some want to teach what they believe and feel is necessary, but it doesn’t work that way. If they think the curriculum goes against what they stand for, the teacher should consider working in a school or location that is more in line with their beliefs and views.

When A Student Needs To Go To The Bathroom

A teacher cannot refuse a student that needs to go to the bathroom. It is a human function; refusing a student to go can lead to consequences for the teacher if the student speaks up.

The student should, however, ask the teacher about the work they missed, and the teacher should help the student catch up on the 10 to 15 minutes they missed.

Uninterested students take chances of missing out on the lesson by going to the bathroom. If the teacher suspects this, they have to incorporate a system around bathroom breaks. Still, they can not refuse to teach you because of it.

When A Student Has Other School Responsibilities

A student might be part of the athletics team, sing in the choir, or swim for the school’s team. In addition, some events and competitions take place during class hours, and a student might miss class because of such commitments.

In such instances, the teacher must show reason and understanding and is not permitted to deprive a student of the learning. Instead, they should make conscious efforts to allow the student to access the learning in a different way, like assigning it as homework.

Another option, if many students are absent from class, would be not introducing new material for that day.

What Are The Consequences?

The consequences of a teacher refusing to teach a student for any of the above reasons will put the teacher’s reputation and position in jeopardy.

If the problem comes down to minor issues like bathroom breaks or a student having other commitments outside of class, this does not constitute enough evidence for the teacher to refuse to teach them.

In most cases, the principal will act as the peacekeeper in helping the teacher think more professionally and logically about the situation. If this fails, and where it is clear that the teacher is not willing to compromise, the board can expel the teacher for neglect of duty.

However, teachers rarely get dismissed because they have a code of conduct and know what the education committee expects from them.

What About Students With Disability?

When students with disabilities or special needs act out, and a teacher refuses to teach them, the principal or head committee of the school will need an additional evaluation of the situation and reasons behind the refusal.

If the disability of the student is the reason for acting out, the teacher cannot refuse to teach the child. They can instead recommend to the parents to move the student to a more suited class or school that deals with their specific condition.

Suppose the student’s behavior is not a result of the disability, and the teacher followed the protocols like giving multiple cautions about interrupting the class. In that case, a teacher can indeed refuse to teach the student.


The cases where a teacher can refuse to teach you are not plenty, but when the correct protocols are followed, it is within their rights.

In any case, the administrative and management team will need to be informed to judge if the teacher’s actions are warranted, and if so, to decide on the next steps for the student.


Youtube: Classroom Strategies For Managing Difficult Behavior

Teachers Win Right To Refuse Disruptive Pupils

Can I Refuse To Teach A Disruptive Class Or Pupil?

Can A Teacher Refuse To Teach Certain Materials In Class If He/She Feels The Curriculum Infringes On His/Her Personal Beliefs?

Educational Code: Public Education Chapter 37 – Discipline; Law and Order

When There is No Other Alternative: Using Chapter 37 to Remove the Disruptive Student

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