This academic affairs case involves a 10-year old boy who was taking summer school classes. The student’s mother dropped him off at school and later, before the last classes were dismissed, he decided to leave the school. The student went to an intersection and was struck by a motorcycle. The student suffered serious injuries as the result of the accident. The student and his mother sued the school district and claimed that the boy’s teacher was negligent and breached a duty to supervise him and prevent him from leaving the school grounds and this caused him to get injured.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- Can a school district be held liable if a truant student is hit by a motorcycle while he is skipping school and off school grounds?
Expert Witness Response
A school district generally has a duty to supervise students and protect them from harm while they are on school grounds. A school district may be held liable for injuries to a student that are caused because a school official intentionally harmed a student or where there was negligence on the part of a school official that caused a student’s injuries. To succeed in a negligence claim against a school district, the plaintiff must prove that school officials failed to take reasonable measures to protect a student. The plaintiff must also prove that the student’s injuries were caused by a school official’s breach of their duty to protect the student. In this case, the school district might not be found negligent because it is usually only the duty of a teacher to protect a student against foreseeable injuries that occur on school grounds. In most cases, a school does not have a duty to supervise and protect a student once they leave school grounds. In this case, even though the school failed to monitor the student and stop him from leaving school, the teacher had no way of knowing about the danger the student would face when he left school grounds. Since a school usually does not have a duty to protect a student from injuries when they are off school grounds, the school’s failure to stop the student from leaving school might not be held to be the proximate cause of him getting hit by a motorcycle. In many cases, the duty of the school is only to notify students that they should not “play hooky” or leave school early and it is considered the student’s duty not to actually leave campus. In this case, the school might not be held to be negligent because they did not have a duty to stop the student from leaving school.