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Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
The science education community promotes inquiry teaching and learning enhanced by the school laboratory experience, and this emphasis is reflected in state and national science education standards. However, science teachers, especially those in chemistry settings, have been known to avoid laboratory activities because of fear of legal liability that may occur in the event of a laboratory-related mishap. Incorrect or incomplete information relayed by sources within and outside the school intensifies teacher misapprehension. This article summarizes misinformation found in the literature and presents the contrasting, current, officially published pertinent case law. The discussion shows that the number of published court decisions specific to alleged district or teacher liability for negligence in the context of science teaching in public schools and their judicial outcomes are far different from the common conception. Implications and suggestions for science educators' action with respect to laboratory safety instruction are included.