There are many reasons that you may choose to sue a school. You may be concerned about the safety of your child or the quality of education they’re receiving. When schools don’t comply with their duties to educate students and keep them safe and healthy, they face the risk of being sued by parents. However, there are some cases in which it is not possible to sue schools for damages because of their immunity from lawsuits.
Some of the most common reasons that parents sue schools include:
- Gross negligence in injury prevention or treatment
- Sexual harassment from staff members or other students
- Lack of special education services for disabled students
The first thing you should do when deciding how to proceed is to consult with a lawyer who has experience in these types of cases. An education attorney near you will be able to advise you on whether you have a case and answer any questions you have about the best type of legal action to pursue.
Can you sue a school for negligence?
Yes, in most states, you can sue a school for gross negligence under the legal theories of premises liability and negligent supervision.
Schools are required to provide students with a safe environment in which to learn. When schools have been negligent and not followed those guidelines, they could open themselves up to lawsuits from the injured party. While schools are usually protected from lawsuits based on simple negligence under sovereign immunity, most states have created exceptions that can open up a lawsuit against your child’s school if you’re dealing with negligent supervision or dangerous conditions on the premises.
If your child was injured in an accident caused by a hazardous condition on school grounds, you might be able to sue the school under the legal theory of premises liability. However, there are limitations on when you can pursue a premises liability case against schools.
First, a school employee must have created the danger, or the school must have failed to remove it when it should have. Additionally, in some most states, you can only sue a school for situations involving “gross negligence,” which means the school’s actions must have shown an extreme indifference to or reckless disregard for the safety of its students.
In a negligent supervision case, the complaint alleges that a student was injured because school employees failed to adequately supervise the injured student or another student that was involved in causing the injury. As with premises liability claims, you generally can only sue a school in cases involving grossly negligent failures.
Can you sue a school for wrongful expulsion?
Yes, you can sue a school for wrongful expulsion if your child’s expulsion violated school policies or the law. You may also be able to sue if your child was not provided appropriate due process before being expelled.
However, it’s important to note that you must exhaust all of your administrative remedies before you can file a complaint in court. This means you cannot sue until you make use of all the processes the school offers to challenge the expulsion. Typically, administrative remedies include an expulsion review hearing or a district-level appeals process. If the school upholds the expulsion, you can file a lawsuit requesting the court review the decision.
You can also sue a school for wrongful expulsion if your child is expelled without receiving a due process hearing. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that expulsions must be assessed in a formal hearing, where the student has the right to be informed of the specific rules they are accused of violating, present evidence and witnesses on their behalf, and be represented by an attorney. If your child’s due process rights were not respected in the expulsion process, you could sue the school for violating the Fourteenth Amendment.
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