Scared or Prepared Lockdown on Liability. Presentation Completed by. David Lamar Michelle Ledbetter Melanie Lewis Legal Entanglement Project for Education 545. Project Agenda or Outline. 1. Introduction. 2. Objectives. 3. Definitions. 4. Elements of Negligence.
4. Elements of Negligence
5. What do we have to fear?
6. What is our responsibility?
7. Supreme Court Decisions
8. Future Legal Concerns
9. Threat Assessments
10. Take a Positive Approach
"Our schoolchildren should never fear [for] their safety when they enter into a classroom."
- President George W. Bush, 10/3/06
Tort laws are laws that provide remedies to individuals harmed by the unreasonable actions of others.
Tort claims usually involve state law and are based on the legal premise that individuals are liable for the consequences of their conduct if it results in injury to others.
Tort laws involve civil suits, which are actions brought to protect an individuals private rights.
Bullying is abuse and schools may be held liable for allowing this abuse to continue.
School districts should develop policies
regarding standards of care & supervision
There are five things every school should do
to protect itself.
The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that a school district can be sued for failing to take reasonable steps to provide security on school grounds. The court also ruled that a private security firm hired by the district could be held liable for negligence in performing its contractual duties. The Indiana Supreme Court held that both defendants could be held liable for negligent failure to take reasonable steps to provide adequate security against the criminal acts of third parties. In the case of the school district, the court concluded that while school districts cannot be sued for failure to prevent crime, they may be held legally responsible for failure to take reasonable safety precautions. Regarding the claim against Northeast Security, the Supreme Court found that the company could be held liable for negligence “in carrying out its contractually assumed obligation to the district.”King v. Northeast Security, Inc.
The judgment at the Appeals court presented by Riley agreed with the District that “Rachel and Lauren received all the process they were due for the suspension, there is no constitutional violation upon which municipal liability can be based.” They also ruled that a “single incident…is insufficient to make a lack of training patently obvious.” Regarding Water’s partiality, they agreed with the district that he was simply acting as an administrator and following District guidelines when he suspended the girls.Jennings v. Wentzville R-IV School District
The decision was presented by Higgenbotham, Circuit Judge for the United Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In reverse of the Circuit Court, the appeals court found that Adam’s first Amendment rights were violated because he did not “intentionally” take or present the drawing and vulgar, racial and threatening words at the school. Therefore, they presented no “true threat.” However, Braud was entitled to “qualified immunity” because he perceived the drawing and words as a threat to the students safety and “he acted without the benefit of established law.” The upper court, however agreed with the Circuit court that his search was reasonable after Adam admitted that the drawing was his. Also, his procedural rights had not been violated because he admitted to the drawing and the incriminating items were found in his possessionPorter v. Ascension Parish School Board
The beatings allowed by Coach Edmundson violated a constitutional right of Meeker, sighting Hall as precedence for a substantive due process claim. The court recognized the Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest in bodily integrity from Ingraham and the adoption of the Hall rationale and holding.Meeker v. Edmundson
The Supreme Court, in 1984, dismissed the superior court’s ruling in favor of the appeal due to it being improvidently granted.Simonetti v. School District of Philadelphia,
The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, has upheld the state's Director of the Division of Civil Rights' (DDCR) ruling that a school district was liable for peer sexual harassment based on sexual orientation under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD).L.W. v. Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education
A Maryland appellate court has ruled a school district can raise assumption of risk as a defense to a negligence claim by a student victim of statutory rape where the student consented to engaging in the sexual relations.Tate v. Board of Education of Prince George’s County
While educators have typically enjoyed immunity from legal charges concerning liability, violence in schools is an emotional issue for many tax holders. More and more courts will hold schools responsible for issues of violence. This includes the issue of bullying.
Today, more than ever, school officials are confronted with questions as to how they should handle student threats associated with "I'll kill you" comments, death threats and hit lists, murder plots, bomb plans, and related school safety and security concerns. One idea is to use a threat assessment format whenever an issue arises.
A 5th grade boy named Michael was in a public park with his friend, Ethan. The two boys were throwing fire crackers on the side walk under the supervision of Ethan’s father. When the two boys were called to leave they stuffed the fire crackers in their jean pockets. Michael told Ethan not to forget and take the fire crackers to school because the firecrackers could blow up the school. At that moment a girl from their class happened to walk by and heard Michael say, “blow up the school”. This was the only part of the conversation she overheard.
The young lady went home and reported to her mother the part of the comment she overheard. The mother immediately called the principal.
How should the principal handle this situation? What steps need to be taken?
Before school started the next morning, the principal phoned Michael’s mother at her work site to notify her that her son would be arrested. He did not speak with either of the boys before this phone call.
Unable to leave her work, the mother in panic called her husband. The father went to the school to deal with the situation. The father persuaded the principal to listen to the facts of the situation and Michael was allowed to return to class.
Ethan’s father also came to the office to help deal with the situation. Ethan’s father happened to be the school guidance counselor.
This case is a factual case happening at a private school in Lynchburg, VA.
Schools and Educators need to learn how to ask real questions. Tort Liability charges can be leveled at any school or educator.