Risk Management for Physical Education

Everything you need to know to provide a safe environment for teaching children.


You probably didn't enter your Physical Education career to be an expert in legal issues, but being aware of your legal responsibilities is an excellent way to lower the chance of injury to students and legal problems to you and your school. As PE Teachers, you are held to a standard of care that is designed to lower the chance of harm to your students. This standard of care can be divided in a number of specific duties, which will be covered in this course. Meeting the criteria and being knowledgeable about the specific duties of care will not completely eliminate injuries, but it will significantly lower the chance of them. That is all you can do. That is what you should do.

This course will take approximately 8 hours to complete. If you have any questions about the course, please email us at "[email protected]".

Need to get your Professional Development Credits approved by administration? Download the course description to provide them here.

Introduction:This is a course about safety. It is about how to lessen the chance of students getting hurt in your class. It will also address another kind of safety - safety from legal entanglements, for the teacher, the department director and school district.Meeting your duty to appreciably decrease the chance of harm is actually boring. You must be safety conscious every day. There is no “day off” when it comes to safety. It is however, a paramount if not your paramount duty.

Forty-nine years ago, I asked a teacher why he selected a rather combative game and why he did not use protective mats? He said the game has been played forever. It is standard practice. That was my first experience as an expert witness in a courthouse. We will discuss the difference between the standard of practice and the standard of care in this course.

We will cover issues such as facilities, equipment, instruction, questionable activities, mis-matching students, warnings and the number one reason we are called into court - the failure to properly supervise.Through readings, projects, a review of some of the actual law suits in which I have served as a consultant and/or expert witness, electronic and old-fashioned communication your knowledge about risk management will be enhanced.

Target Audience: K-12 Physical Education Teachers

Instructor: Dick Borkowski

Dick's Curriculum Vita


Course Purpose: To offer concepts, strategies and information that will lower the chance of injury to students in the physical education environment. It will cover ways of managing risks. It is also a primer for teachers regarding legal exposure. We live in a litigious society and teachers must be sensitive to this current atmosphere.

Course Description: The course is designed to help teachers understand and appreciate their duty of care as it relates to managing risk in physical education.My goal is, through readings, examples of real cases, projects related to her/his teaching situation and conversations, to make you cognizant of the strategies to decrease the chances of injury. Note that I say decrease, not eliminate. Regardless of some academicians and lawyer’s suggestion that a teacher must ensure the safety of every child, this is an impossibility.

Fewer injuries mean fewer lawsuits. This means less energy, less worry and less money will be required to battle litigation. All those resources can then go to children.The course is for the new and experienced teacher. For the guy or girl who works with children every day. It is, in many ways about common sense, starting with caring about children.

Course Goals:

  • Review the legal duties of a physical education teacher.
  • Understand the difference between standard of practice and the standard of care.
  • To offer a defensive game plan for teachers and students.
  • Review and identify the potential hazards related to programs, fields, facilities and activities.
  • Experience individual safety checklist for various activities and sports.
  • You will develop a program specific safety checklist related to your situation.
  • Teachers will be given the necessary information to meet their risk management duties, including communicating the student’s responsibility.
  • Offer a list of additional resources in risk management.
  • To share what this instructor has learned during a lifetime of teaching and serving as a physical education and sport safety consultant and expert witness.

Technology needed to complete: You will need a computer and/or tablet Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. You will also need an email address to contact the instructor or turn in materials.

Need to get your Professional Development Credits approved by your administration? Download the course description here.

Your Instructor

Dick Borkowski
Dick Borkowski

Richard P. Borkowski, Ed. D., C. M. A. A. is a Sport and Recreation Safety Consultant formally based in Narberth, Pennsylvania. He served as the Director of Physical Education and Athletics at the Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania for 33 years. He has been involved in the area of sport and recreation safety as an author, speaker, expert witness and consultant for 40 years. He has recently moved to Cary, North Carolina.

Over 310 of his 410 published articles have dealt with safety and the safety responsibilities of coaches, recreation leaders and teachers. He wrote a monthly safety column for Coaches Legal Report, the National Athletic Director and the Coach’s Letter. J. Weston Walch Publications in 1991 published his first book on safety in sport. Entitled School Sport Safety and Fitness. LRP Publications published his second book, The School Sports Safety Handbook, in May 1998. His third book, The Athletic Administrator’s Scheduling Handbookwas published in April of 2001. A sport risk management manual was published in June 2003 for the southwestern educational service district in Washington State entitled Coaching for Safety. In 2008 he published a manual for the same Washington service that dealt with physical education safety. It was entitled, Putting Prevention Into Practice.

He presently writes for Athletic Management Magazine. He also has contributed to Managing School Athletics, Scholastic Coach & Athletic Director and Fitness Management Magazine. He also contributes on a regular basis to the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union web site. He served as the chairman of the United States Rugby Union’s Risk Management Committee for four years. He remains as a member of the committee.


"This is a valuable course for all levels of PE teachers. It emphasizes all of the potential liabilities involved with teaching PE. The instructor is very knowledgeable about the topic and he made the course interesting." - D.R.

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