You send your child to school and you assume that the
school will supervise him or her. You get a phone call telling you that your child is on his way to hospital with a serious injury. How did this happen? Some accidents are simply unavoidable. But most
injuries at school can be avoided simply through adequate
School districts and their employees are placed under a general duty to supervise the conduct of children on school grounds during school sessions, school activities, recesses and lunch periods. Iverson v. Muroc Unified School District, 32 Cal.App.4th 218, 227 (1995).
The standard of care that school authorities must exercise is the degree of care that a person of ordinary prudence, charged with comparable duties, would exercise under the same circumstances. Dailey v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist., 2 Cal. 3d 741, 747 (1970). In that case, a
student died after falling over and striking his head on the ground during a slap fight. School had some 2,700 students, and only a handful of supervisors. There was no system to ensure supervision, and nobody knew who was supposed to be supervising. The school in that case was held liable.
In addition, schools are responsible for supervising children during recess, during breaks, and on their way to and from school. Part of the analysis has to be the ratio of teachers to students, the size of the area to be supervised, the training of the teacher/staff with regard to supervision and accident prevention, whether the school [or school district] has adopted written policies regarding supervision, the number and location of any 'blind spots,' and similar issues.
Just because your child was injured at school does not mean that it was the school's fault, or that the school did not supervise the student. You must show that the school violated a specific duty, such as failing to supervise the child before you can recover for your child.
Pete Clancy is a personal injury lawyer in Oakland. He can be reached at 510-251-8868.