Student safety at school should be a priority for both the parents and school administers.  In fact, North Carolina case law states “the foremost priority of a school principal is undoubtedly student safety.”   In re J.D.R., 206 N.C. App. 761, 699 S.E.2d 139 (2010).  In order to accomplish student safety, a school system should perform due diligence before individuals become employees or volunteers and then, after they are hired, adequately supervise those employees.

A recent situation involving student safety made the news.  A volunteer coach at a local public student shared an illegal substance with a student-athlete.  The situation raised concerns about how the volunteer came to possess the illegal substance on school grounds and the supervision of the volunteer.  The family retained Brian Elston Law in order to determine how this unfortunate situation could happen.

Brian Elston interviewed about school safety

What injuries are the fault of schools?

Schools must supervise their students adequately.  Payne v. N. Carolina Dep’t of Human Res., 95 N.C. App. 309, 313, 382 S.E.2d 449, 451 (1989).  A school system is liable for foreseeable injuries that result from a lack of teacher supervision. Id. In other words, if a school system could foresee that the injury could happen, then the school system has a duty to “protect the safety of students.”  Examples of injuries that could be the responsibility of school officials:

  • Negligent supervision during sporting activities, such as cheerleading events (Davidson v. Univ. of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill, 142 N.C. App. 544, 546, 543 S.E.2d 920, 922 (2001)
  • Student roughhousing when the teacher was not in classroom and knew of students proclivity to horse play;
  • Injuries during homecoming events due to failing to property set up booths;
  • Injuries that arise out of failure to supervise students.

If you or your child has concerns about student safety, please contact my office to discuss your rights and the responsibilities of the school system.

(for a follow up on the news story above see here)