Student Dies in Gym Class as a Result of Poor Supervision


Education Expert WitnessThis case involves a sixteen-year-old male student who was injured and later died in his school gym after he had been “slap boxing” with another student. On the day in question, the student had finished eating lunch and headed to the boys’ gym and began “slap boxing” with another student. The teenage boys continued boxing for 5 to 10 minutes when one student was struck in the face and fell backwards, fracturing his skull on the asphalt. The student died later that night from his injuries. The physical education department had no policies in place specifying exactly who was to supervise the students in the boy’s gym during lunchtime. The physical education department only had a policy that the teacher in the gym office was responsible for supervising students in the boys’ gym during lunchtime. On the day the student was injured, the supervising teacher remained in the gym office without a clear line of sight to the students. The area of the boys’ gym where the accident occurred was obscured by a wall in the office. The student’s parents sued the school district in a wrongful death action.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • Is a school district liable for a student’s death during lunchtime when the school had no set policies or rules for supervising students at that time?

Expert Witness Response

A school district has a duty to supervise students at all times when they are on school grounds and also has a duty to enforce rules and regulations to protect students. If a school district fails to supervise students or is ineffective in supervising students and a student is injured or dies, the school district may be held to be negligent in causing the injury or death. A school district has a special duty to supervise students during recess and during the lunch hour in order to maintain discipline and order. Even though a student may be considered more mature because they are in high school, a school district still has a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries to them that might be caused by other students. In this case, the teacher in the gym office was most likely negligent because he remained in his office during lunch and did not station himself in an area with a clear view of the students who were slap boxing in the boys’ gym. This means that the he did not adequately supervise the students and failed to exercise due care to prevent the student’s death. This negligence on the part of the teacher in the gym office was probably the proximate cause of the student’s death in this case. This means that the school district was probably negligent in this case.

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