Q: My son George was a fifth-grade student. During a lunch recess, at the school playground, George climbed on top of the monkey bars and, from the top of the bars, successfully did a cartwheel into a handstand followed by a swinging dismount to the ground. On a second attempt, George lost his balance while in the handstand position and was injured when he fell to the ground. Although three school lunch aides were present and providing supervision, none of the lunch aides had intervened.
The aides claim that none of them observed any part of George’s conduct. The head one says that, had she seen what George was doing, she would have intervened and sent him to the principal’s office. She acknowledges that my George was a known trickster when on the playground, who had been reprimanded in the past for inappropriate use of playground equipment. She admits that he needed more attention.
The school district has some surveillance footage. It shows George’s second attempt at the cartwheel-to-handstand maneuver.
A: A school cannot reasonably be expected continuously to supervise and control every movement and activity; a school is not an insurer of its students’ safety. All the same, the school is under a duty to provide adequate supervision to those in its charge, and will be held liable for foreseeable injuries proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision. In carrying out its duty, the school is obligated to exercise such care as a parent of ordinary prudence would observe in comparable circumstances.
Regarding the surveillance footage, your attorney will argue the district was clearly on notice of possible litigation and, thus, under an obligation to preserve any evidence that might be needed for future litigation. Accordingly, the district had an obligation to preserve all of the moments leading up to George’s accident, during which the monitors should have woken up. If the district destroyed the footage before George’s second attempt, then seemingly the Court should give the jury a ‘negative inference charge’ with respect to this unavailable footage.
By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial
The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.
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