School Negligence and the San Bernardino City Unified School District

Extra-curricular activities are usually the highlight of any student’s high school career. Whether it be sports, theater or an after-school club, it’s an excellent way for a student to broaden their horizons and meet new people. Of course there is a chance that an awkward slide tackle in soccer or a trip on the stage could result in an injury, but live and let live. What parents don’t expect, however, is what happened in the case of Mosley v. San Bernardino City Unified School District(2005).

The victim’s parents filed the suit in the wake of their daughter’s – Dashanay Smith-Wortham, a student at San Bernardino City Unified School District’s Arroyo Valley High School  – death as the result of falling out of a van driven by Ja’Niece Allen, an employee of the school. They argued that Allen was not qualified to be driving the van. The accident occurred away from school grounds, and was not going to or leaving a school sponsored event. The Court dismissed the lawsuit, and the appeal was denied, on the grounds that the DMV is far more qualified to determine the experience of the driver and that Allen was not hired negligently.

About San Bernardino City Unified School District

San Bernardino City School District employs 7,800 teachers and administrators to cover approximately 53,000 students enrolled in its 73 schools. Their graduation rate increased from 73.5 percent to 80 percent from 2012-2014 and nearly 92 percent of their students live in poverty.

It was ruled in the case above that negligence was not the cause of Dashanay’s death; it was just a tragic accident. When it comes to schools, however, there are still many grounds under which a school can be found negligent in the event of a student’s injury or death, particularly when it comes to drivers employed by the school. If the driver was improperly trained, they were negligent in the care of passengers or if the bus itself was poorly maintained, then a negligence suit would likely find for the plaintiff.

Is a Filing a Lawsuit Different If the School Is Public Or Private?

The short answer is, yes. The process for filing a lawsuit varies greatly depending on whether the student was injured in a public or private school. With a public school, they are considered a government entity, which means there are strict procedures that must be followed. The basis for a suit must be filed, and when it’s an injury, the specific circumstances and parties involved must be listed in great detail. After this, damages sought needs to be filed as well.

For private schools, the main difference is that problems raised are contractual. Private schools are not bound by the Constitution or other laws, such as Title IX; while this doesn’t mean they’re immune to lawsuits, it should be noted that public policy does not apply to them. Any negligence cases would have to have been in violation of the contract or handbook provided by the school, which parents would likely have to have signed. If a student is injured, it’s important to understand the protocols for filing a lawsuit if the parents wish to do so.

If your child is injured at school, it could be because of negligence on their part. If you plan to file a lawsuit, you’ll need an attorney who’s an expert in the matter to see that you are compensated fairly. At Panish Shea & Boyle, we have the resources, knowledge and experience to handle cases against a large school district such as San Bernardino City Unified School District.

These are just some of the cases of negligence we are prepared to handle:

Anytime a child is injured – seriously or not – because of negligent actions by a school district or it’s employees, an attorney should be consulted. Holding the district responsible is the only way to ensure that the problem is corrected and to help prevent it from happening to another child. If you’re in need of representation, call our San Bernardino City USD school negligence attorneys today or fill out an online contact form for a free consultation.