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School District's Liability in Cases of Violent Attacks on Students and Employees

NCJ Number
J Maze
Date Published
11 pages
This paper examines the school's responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for its students.
Failure on the part of schools to take preventive measures may result in loss of government tort immunity and charges of negligence liability. Three defenses generally will relieve the school district of negligence liability in part or whole: contributory negligence, i.e., the plaintiff contributed to the injury by willfully disregarding a warning or procedure designed to prevent the injury; assumption of risk, i.e., the plaintiff willfully participated in an action known to result in possible injury; and sovereign immunity. A review of case law shows the victim of violent crime in the United States to be increasingly likely to successfully litigate for money damages against the school district, which indicates a decline in sovereign immunity. School districts need to determine their needs and provide protection in accordance with budget considerations and community perceptions. Recommended actions include student and faculty identification cards, conflict management training, improved control of access to facilities, policy procedures, victim support, and victim student management.


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