Could this happen to your school?

Jury awards school shooting victim

A jury in California recently awarded 3.8 million dollars to a school shooting victim. The school district was ordered to pay 54% of that 3.8 million, a jury finding the school 54% negligent.

Could this happen to your school?

The prosecutor argued that the school did not do enough to protect the student from harm. The school was found to have ignored “red flags” which included threats and a very disturbing violent drawing. Six school employees were also found negligent.

In this particular case, the perpetrator’s family also brought suit against the school district, alleging that they did not follow state laws regarding bullying and sexual harassment.

How can we avoid being caught in this type of situation?

I believe it’s imperative to have safety protocols and processes in place, provide safety training for all staff, and adhere to your school’s protocols for both intervening in bullying and harassment and for assessing indicators of violent thoughts and threatening behavior.

Only then, will we be able to show that we have done our due diligence to protect our students from harm. Of course, we cannot always anticipate the actions someone will take, especially when those actions do not follow our own sense of values or logic. But, we must be prepared to take action when there is even the slightest hint of violence or violent ideology.

To further assess your liability quotient when it comes to school safety, check out these critical points. If you find that your staff is in need of training, or your school needs help developing safety protocols, take a look at this.

I wish you a safe and productive school year!

Can Schools be Held Liable for Violence?


We are cognizant of covering all of our bases when it comes to school safety. We attend to physical security, school climate, crisis response plans, and prevention efforts. Even with all of those components in place, we wonder, “can we still be held liable if something happens in our school?”

A Colorado legislator recently introduced Senate Bill 213, which would allow the victims of school shootings or their families to sue schools when the violence is “reasonably foreseeable.” State lawmakers say they are “sending a directive to education officials to do more to keep students safe,” according to a recent article in Insurance Journal.

This bill would allow victims and their families to collect up to $350,000 from schools in a move legislators say will motivate education officials to improve school security. “It’s about holding them liable for providing a direct duty to care for those kids in their charge,” Republican Senate President Bill Cadman said.

Currently, schools have governmental immunity from being sued in Colorado. The measure allowing lawsuits would waive the state’s governmental immunity so schools could be sued for shootings.

While this bill has not yet passed, it is moving forward and is something to watch. We also want to keep an eye on the outcome of the wrongful death suit against the school board and city of Newtown, Connecticut that was filed in January by the parents of two students killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The best way to protect ourselves from these types of legal concerns is also the best way to keep our students and staff safe – attend to all facets of school safety and be certain to review and update our practices and protocols regularly to reflect the most current research, practices and technology.