This educational leadership case involves a female student who was injured during a field trip in Mississippi. The student was allowed to select from a number of possible field trips, and ultimately selected a trip to a local indoor rock climbing gym, as the trip would also serve to satisfy a physical education requirement held by the school. The student had no previous rock climbing experience, however she was a student athlete who led a very active lifestyle. On arrival to the rock climbing facility, the students were shown a brief presentation on the safe use of harnesses and belay equipment. Nevertheless, when the student was placed in her harness by climbing gym staff, it was done so incorrectly. While near the top of a 50 foot climbing wall the student fell and suffered fatal injuries.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. As an administrator, were you responsible for overseeing policies pertaining to school off site functions?
- 2. If so, what safety measures were taken to ensure that students only participated in safe activities and were never placed in harms way?
Expert Witness Response E-027315
My background includes the last 20 years in a professional capacity in outdoor recreation related instruction, management, and program design. I have experience personally managing a collegiate rock climbing wall and high ropes course, including writing and implementing a comprehensive risk management and operations plan. I also have a range of experience using climbing activities as part of college physical education programs, including a program with hundreds of students. I have also safely managed a variety of other outdoor activities beyond the collegiate setting, including a very large youth activity council, and as a field instructor and course director with a prominent outdoor education program.
Expert Witness Response E-027190
I have an extensive amount of experience in this field. I’ve been in the education field, including the university level, for the past 40 years. I just recently retired from a large state school, where I worked on organizing and supervising outdoor adventure and excursion style trips for university students. Throughout my career, I’ve been responsible for creating and organizing outdoor pursuit programs for university students similar in scope to the one in this case. I’m very familiar with orientation programs similar to the one in this case.