Los Angeles County School District Negligence

When your child is at school, you expect them to be monitored by a teacher or administrator at all times. You expect – and have every right to expect – them to be accounted for and kept safe. But the sad reality is that this is not always the case. Policies sometimes fail – or are never put into place. Teachers, bus drivers and administrators sometimes act in a negligent manner.  Dangerous playground and sports equipment is sometimes used. Sometimes, other children bully or abuse other students. These issues are prevalent – and extremely important – in every school and school district in the county. However, due to it’s incredible size and scale, the Los Angeles County School District hands it’s schools and staff a unique challenge.

How do you keep nearly 650,000 students safe? How do you oversee and manage nearly 60,000 employees?  Our Los Angeles Unified School District negligence attorneys have seen that it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. If your child is one of the 646,000 students attending a LAUSD school, the vigilance and care that your child deserves may be difficult for these teachers to accomplish.

LAUSD by the Numbers

The Los Angeles Unified School District has over 643,493 students (as of 2015) attending it’s 1,274 schools, making it the largest school district in California and the second largest in the nation. The district employs 26,827 teachers, 2,456 administrators and a total of 59,823 employees. Its boundaries stretch over 720 miles and include all of Los Angeles and over 31 smaller cities and unincorporated areas.

Cities entirely within the LAUSD boundary are:

San Fernando
Huntington Park
Vernon
West Hollywood
Gardena
Cudahy

 

Cities that are partially within the LAUSD boundary are:

Bell Gardens
Beverly Hills
Calabasas
Carson
City of Commerce
Culver City
Downey
Hawthorne
El Segundo
Inglewood
Lynwood
Montebello
Monterey Park
Rancho Palos Verde
Rolling Hills Estates
Santa Clarita
Santa Monica
South Gate
South Pasadena
Torrance

 

 

 

All in all, over 4.8 million people live within the district’s boundaries. Being such a large district also means that it’s budget is massive.  In fact, the total expenses for the 2015-2016 fiscal year sit at $7.08 billion dollars!

Lawsuits Against the Los Angeles Unified School District

With a district of this size, there have been many cases of negligence or student injury that have resulted in lawsuits.

A negligence lawsuit was recently filed against Los Angeles USD alleges that a bus driver for Dodson Middle School flat out refused to pick up a 15-year old student because she was in a gang infested area, despite other students were allowed on board. This happened even though the district instructed her to be at that specific stop. She was found in a nearby park hours later disoriented and confused. In these types of lawsuits, where a child is harmed off school property, much precedent has been set that a school can be liable for negligence.

In 2015, a $20 million lawsuit was awarded in the case of Jun v. Chaffey Joint Union High School District in which Jun’s adopted nephew, Jin, died while trying to cross an intersection on a road where cars move at highway speeds to get to a bus stop. It was discovered that the district got rid of a stop in a much safer location, and then tried to claim it was available the whole time when in actuality, they only made it available after Jin’s death. The court found that the district tried to hide evidence in an effort to absolve themselves of any wrongdoing.
Here, a direct action by the school district caused it to be liable for a child’s death, even though it was technically off school grounds. As previously stated, past court cases in the state of California have found that a district can still be found in negligence when a child is injured or killed off school property.
 
For example, Hoyem v. Manhattan Beach City School District (1978) concerned a young boy who had left school grounds during lunch hour and was subsequently struck by a motorist. The mother tried to sue the district for damages, but the trial court dismissed the causes of action. The court erred in doing so, as the district bears the responsibility of supervising all the children during school hours, and is therefore negligible in this regard.
Determining negligence under these circumstances all depends on whether a school’s actions, or inactions, directly caused an injury or death to a student. The injury and death in each of these scenarios may not have been as the result of a bad bus driver or an abusive teacher. But it’s clear in each of these cases that the districts involved were responsible for the damages caused.

What Else Might Be Considered Negligence?

The above cases are examples of cases against the Los Angeles Unified School District.  However, they don’t even begin to cover the scope of potential issues or actions that the district may be liable for.  These can include, but are not limited to:

While we hope that no students ever suffer these or any other type of injury at their school, our Los Angeles Unified School District attorneys are prepared to hold negligent parties responsible. In the event of a serious school injury, you need representation from a law firm that has handled these cases before and have the resources to deal with a district the size of LAUSD.  Call Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP or fill out our contact form for a free and confidential case evaluation.