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Running head: PORTFOLIO ARTIFACT 3 TORT AND LIABILITY 1

Portfolio Artifact 3: Tort and Liability

Marilyn Gonzalez

Dr. Isbell

EDU 210

College of Southern Nevada

October 28, 2017


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Portfolio Artifact 3: Tort and Liability

Ray Knight is a middle school student who, due to unexcused absences, was given a

three-day suspension. Pursuant to district guidelines, the school was required to notify Knight’s

parents via a telephone call and a mailed written notice. Knight’s parents were unaware of his

suspension, as the school sent written notice by way of Knight himself, who threw it away before

his parents could see it. Knight was accidentally shot while at a friend’s house on his first day of

suspension. This case regards whether Knight’s parents have grounds to pursue liability charges

against the school.

Glaser v. Emporia Unified School District (2001) is the first case presented in argument

that Knight’s parents do not have grounds to pursue liability charges. This case, decided by the

Supreme Court of Kansas, regards a twelve year old student named Todd Glaser who was

injured, prior to the start of the school day, in a car accident after he ran off school grounds in a

game of chase. In this case, the court ruled that the school district was not liable for Glaser’s

injuries. Furthermore, this case established that the school district “does not exercise supervision

before school until a student is in the building” (Glaser v. Emporia, 2001). In Knight’s case,

Glaser v. Emporia serves as a base to argue that while the school did not follow district protocol

for parental notification, the school is not beholden to its duty to supervise and protect Knight

since he was neither on school grounds nor in a school building at the time of his accident.

The second case presented in favor of the argument that Knight’s parents do not have

grounds to pursue liability charges is Albers v. Community Consolidated School (1987). In this

case, decided by the Appellate Court of Illinois, fourth-grade student Christopher Albers was

injured and eventually lost sight in one eye while in his classroom. Following practice for the

school’s Christmas program, Albers and his fellow classmates were instructed to use the
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restroom and then return to the classroom. His teacher was in a space between her classroom and

the restrooms in an attempt to supervise students who were coming in both directions. It was

during these moments that Albers and another student had an altercation wherein Albers was

injured. In this case, the court held for the defendant, stating that ”Absent proof of willful and

wanton misconduct, teachers, school officials and school districts are immune from tort liability

for personal injuries sustained by students during school activities” (Albers v. Community

Consolidated, 1987). Furthermore, the court defined willful and wanton misconduct as an “act

intentionally done or that act taken, under the circumstances known, in reckless or conscious

disregard of probable injurious consequences” (Albers v. Community Consolidated, 1987). In

regards to Knight’s case, the middle school could not have accounted for the accident that took

place on Knight’s first day of suspension, and therefore the school’s actions do not fit the

definition of willful and wanton misconduct as outlined by Albers v. Community Consolidated.

Grieder v. Shawnee Mission Unified School (1989) is the first case presented in favor of

the argument that Knight’s parents do have grounds to pursue liability charges. In this case,

decided by the United States District Court in Kansas, eighth-grade special education student

Alexander Greider was injured in his woodworking class. As a special education student, Greider

carried an IEP that required annual reviews. During one such review, one of the special education

teachers decided that Greider should participate in the woodworking class. According to the

woodworking teacher, he was not notified of Greider’s need for accommodations. The court

ruled in favor of Greider, stating that the school failed to take reasonable steps to protect

Greider’s safety. Reasonable steps, as outlined in this case, include “ properly instructing him on

safety procedures and providing proper guards and warning signs on the table saw on which he

was injured” (Greider v. Shawnee, 1989). Additionally, the court stipulated that “such matters
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were not discretionary” and that therefore the school was not entitled to immunity. In Knight’s

case, Greider v. Shawnee serves as a base to argue that, by not following district protocol

regarding parental notification, the middle school failed to take reasonable steps to ensure Ray

Knight’s safety during his suspension.

The second case presented in argument that Knight’s parents have grounds to pursue

liability charges is DC v. St Landry Parish School Board (2001). In this case, decided by the

Louisiana Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, a twelve-year-old student was sexually assaulted as

she walked home from school. The student was sent home from school that day by the school for

violating the school dress code. In violation of the school’s policy, the student was allowed to

sign out during school hours without the principal or vice-principal’s authority and parental

notification. The court decided in favor of D.C., stating that the student was under the school’s

care when she was allowed to leave during school hours, making her dismissal from campus a

breach of the school’s duty of care. Additionally, given the area’s high crime rate and reputation,

it was foreseeable that the student would be subjected to an injury if allowed to walk through the

area without an adult escort. Similarly, in Knight’s case, the middle school violated the district

policy requiring two forms of parental notification, neither of which was attempted by the middle

school.

If this case were brought to a court, it is my belief that the court would maintain that

Knight’s parents do have a lawful right to pursue liability charges, particularly under the scope of

comparative negligence. Under this scope, the percentage of negligence takes into account that

Knight had a part in causing his own injuries, by throwing away the written notification of his

suspension. Also, while I agree that the school’s actions do not fit the definition of willful and

wanton misconduct as outlined by Albers v. Community Consolidated School, the school’s


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actions also speak to a failure to take reasonable steps as outlined in Greider v. Shawnee Mission

Unified School. Additionally, when the school failed to follow the proper protocol for parental

notification, Knight was in the school’s care as defined by Glaser v. Emporia Unified School

District and DC v. St Landry School Parish. This failure to properly notify Knight’s parents is a

breach of their duty of care to Knight. Therefore, Knight’s parents have grounds to pursue

charges under the definition of comparative negligence.


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References

Albers v. Community Cons. NO. 204 SCHOOL, 508 N.E.2d 1252, 155 Ill. App. 3d 1083 (1987).
(n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2017.
https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/2122116/albers-v-community-cons-no-204-school/

D.C. v. St. Landry Parish School Board, 802 So.2d 19 (2001). (n.d.). Retrieved October 25,
2017.
https://www.leagle.com/decision/2001821802so2d191819

Glaser v. Emporia Unified School District NO 253 EPP 253 (2001). (n.d.). Retrieved October 25,
2017.
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ks-supreme-court/1364854.html

Greider v. Shawnee Mission Unified School District 512 (1989) (n.d.). Retrieved October 25,
2017.
https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/710/296/1462599/

Underwood, J., & Webb, L. D. (2006). School Law for Teachers: Concepts and Applications.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.