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High School Students Want More Supervision? (NY)

August 15, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="">R L v New York City Dept of Education</a></em><a href=""> ,</a> the 14-year-old plaintiff was a member of a student dance group that was practicing to perform at an upcoming high school festival.  The school provided times for the group to practice after class, in the school building, and with staff supervision.   On the day of the accident, the school was closed for a public holiday and the plaintiff and the other students in her dance group met to practice off school grounds, without school staff supervision.  During this practice session, the plaintiff was injured.  The plaintiff sued the New York City Department of Education and the City of New York, alleging negligent supervision.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The defendants moved moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was no duty to supervise the plaintiff outside of the school premises and on a public holiday.   The lower court granted the school’s motion finding the school did not owe a duty to the student.  The plaintiff appealed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Appellate Division Second Department issued a decision affirming the summary judgment award in favor of the school.  The Appellate Division reiterated that schools have a duty to adequately supervise students in their charge and will be held liable for foreseeable injuries proximately related to the absence of adequate supervision.  However, the court noted that the “duty arises from the school's physical custody over the students.”  Specifically, the Court noted that the rationale underlying this duty is that in having custody of a child, the school deprives the child of the protection of his or her parents or guardian, and thus must give the child the protection of which the child has been deprived.   Applying these principles to this case, the Court found that the school submitted evidence sufficient to establish, prima facie, that the Department of Education did not owe the student plaintiff a duty of care at the time that she was injured because the injury-producing incident occurred during a dance practice off school premises, on a public holiday, without the school's knowledge or consent.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to George Parpas for his contribution to this post.  Please contact <a href="">Georgia Coats</a> with any questions.</p>


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