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Running Header: SCHOOL LIABILITY

School Liability
Winter Henrie
Edu. 203-1002
College of Southern Nevada

SCHOOL LIABILITY

Abstract.
This paper will argue both sided of a liability case between a student who was accidentally shot
during his suspension, and the school who failed to properly report his suspension to his parents.
The school is guilty of negligence for failing to notify the parents of their sons suspension.
While, the student will be guilt of contributory negligence, because of the awareness that guns
are dangerous, and that he should not be at a friends house without the permission of his parents.

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School Liability

Ray Knight is a middle school student who was accidentally shot while at a friends house
during school hours. Ray was suspended for three days for unexcused absences. School district
policy states that suspended students must receive a written letter mailed to the home as well as,
telephone notification. Upon suspending Ray, the school only sent him home with a letter, which
was thrown away. Therefore, Rays parents were unaware of his suspension. Does Ray Knights
parents have defensible grounds to pursue liability charges? Some may argue that the school is
responsible, while others will argue that the school is not.
First we must consider the reason for suspension. Ray had unexcused absences that
warranted his suspension for three days. It is safe to assume that because the absences were
unexcused that the parents did not know that their son was skipping school. Therefore, Ray had a
pattern of staying home or going to friends homes during school hours and without his parents
permission. MITCHELL v. CEDAR RAPIDS COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, appeal, states
that the school was not at fault for the sexual assault that happen to D.E. during school hours,
though not on school property. Mitchells 14 year old special needs daughter had skipped class to
go to her 19 year old boyfriends home, he was also in the special education program at her
school. The teacher marked her absent from class, and it was recorded in the schools system that
afternoon. a school district owes no duty to protect students from a third party outside the
school day, off school grounds, and not during a school activity (Mitchell 2013). Since the
incident happened off of school grounds, the school had no duty to protect Ray from the
accidental gun shot.

SCHOOL LIABILITY

Ray was accidentally shot, meaning that either him or his friend had been mishandling a
firearm. Given Knights age, it is safe to assume that he knew the dangers of handling a gun.
Therefore he is guilty of contributory neglect. Which means, his knowledge of the potential
danger makes him partially responsible for any injuries sustained. In the case of Rollin Vs.
Concordia Parish School Board, where a student sustained a broken arm, the court determined
that Rollins was, guilty of contributory negligence because she was riding on the inside of the
merry-go-round and apparently trying to get off of the merry-go-round while the machine was in
motion (Rollins 1998). Ray knew the consequences of not telling his parents where he was, and
he also knew the dangers of being around or even handling a gun. Therefore, he is guilty of
contributory neglect.
On the other hand, the school does have the responsibility to make sure that parents are
aware of their childs whereabouts. Without proper notification of the students suspension the
school was neglectful in their responsibilities. The but-for test Kennedy raises is tort law's
familiar factual causation test: an act is a factual cause of an outcome if, in the absence of the act,
the outcome would not have occurred (Mitchell 2013). In the case of Mitchell Vs. Cedar
Rapids, there was no evidence that what had happened to D.E. was preventable by the school.
However in the case of Hill V. Damnn, a bus driver knowingly dropped off a student at the wrong
bus stop, because she refused to be dropped off at her new bus route. Subsequently, she was
abducted and murdered by a known pedophile who lived in the area. Had the dispatch informed
the parents right away that their daughter had refused to be taken to the other stop, then she
would not have been murdered and had the school reported Rays suspension to his parents, Ray

SCHOOL LIABILITY

may have not been at his friends home, and therefore the accidental shot would not have
occurred.
The school has a responsibility to follow all policies. Neglecting to do so, makes that
school or school district responsible for any injuries that occurred because of the neglect.
Brahatcek v. Millard School District, outlines the dangers of negligence. A student sustained
injuries during a physical education class involving golfing instructions, that later resulted in
death. David did not receive any instruction from the teacher, and was shown by a fellow student
how to swing the golf club, who then accidentally hit David in the head when he walked up
while the student was swinging. In the opinion of the court, there was no question about
foreseeability in this case. According to the court, if the school district's teachers had exercised
proper supervision, the death would not have occurred (Brahatcek 1985). In the case of Ray
Knight, had the school followed proper procedure, the accidental gun shot would not have
occurred.
Based on previous court cases, Ray Knights parents do have grounds for liability charges
against the school. The school neglected to follow proper procedure, and as a result Ray was
accidentally shot. However, because of Rays age and his awareness of the dangers of guns, he
will likely be found guilty of contributory negligence. The courts are likely to rule in favor of
Rays parents, but they will likely receive a reduction in compensation because of the neglect on
Rays part.

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References

ROLLINS v. CONCORDIA PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, FAILURE TO SUPERVISE


SCHOOL PLAYGROUND MERRY-GO-ROUND. (1998). Retrieved September 17, 2015, from
http://cehdclass.gmu.edu/jkozlows/rollins.htm
MITCHELL v. CEDAR RAPIDS COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT. FindLaw's
Supreme Court of Iowa case and opinions. (2013, June 21). Retrieved September 17, 2015, from
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ia-supreme-court/1635949.html
Brahatcek v. Millard School District, Written Supervision Standard Not Followed in Golf
Mishap. (1985, December 1). Retrieved September 17, 2015, from http://cehdclass.gmu.edu/
jkozlows/brahatck.htm
Hill v. Damm. (2011, July 13). Retrieved September 17, 2015, from https://
scholar.google.com/scholar_case