California School Injuries: What is Your Child’s School Doing to Keep it Safe?

head injuryIt’s time for our children to return to school after a fun filled summer. When we entrust our students to the school’s care, we put faith in the schools’ administrators that they will take all necessary steps to safeguard our children from danger and harm. We expect our children to be protected from danger whether the danger is caused by intentional or negligent acts of others, whether the harm is verbal or physical.

Injury is the most common health problem treated by school health personnel. One study reported that 80% of elementary school children visited the school nurse for an injury-related complaint . Approximately 10%–25% of child and adolescent injuries occur on school premises. Approximately 4 million children and adolescents are injured at school per year. What does California law regarding safe supervision of our students?

California courts recognize that a special relationship exists between the school and the students. The schools are under a legal duty to use ordinary care and prudence under the circumstances presented. It has been held by the courts that the schools must “take all reasonable steps to protects its students.” School Districts are responsible for injuries to students caused by the school employees’ failure to use ordinary care. The districts may be responsible for a total lack of supervision or for ineffective supervision.

The following are examples where the Courts have held that school districts owed a duty to supervise and protect its students. A sixteen year old boy was injured in the locker room when some of the students engaged in a slap boxing fight. The boy fell and hit his head causing a concussion which led to his death. A middle school student suffered a serious facial injury while participating in golf instructions. The students were not properly supervised because the non-participating students were permitted to stand to close to the students who were swinging the golf clubs and hitting balls.

As an Oakland personal injury attorney, former school board member, and former athletic director of my kids’ school, I know how important it is to provide children with a safe environment at school. Schools should make child safety a number one priority. If your child has been injured on school premises or in school activities, you should know your child’s legal rights.


Center for Disease Control, School Health Guidelines to Prevent Unintentional Injuries and Violence, December 7, 2001

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