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School Employees May Be Liable For Student Bullying

In the case of A.R. v. Toledo City School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2019-Ohio-3402, an Ohio appellate court held that statutory immunity may not be granted to school employees when there was a factual dispute over whether the school employees knew of alleged student bullying.

In this case, a student was allegedly subjected to verbal and physical bullying by another student. The parents of the bullied student notified the student’s teacher, assistant principal, and principal of multiple instances of bullying and shared the negative affects the bullying had on their child. Despite these parental notices, the bullying continued until the parents withdrew their child from school after their child was ultimately stabbed with a pencil by another student.

The parents and their child brought legal action against the school board and school employees alleging that they negligently handled the bullying incidents. The school board and school employees sought to have the lawsuit against them dismissed arguing that they were protected by statutory immunity under R.C. Chapter 2744.

While the Ohio appellate court found that the school board was protected by statutory immunity, the appellate court also found that a question of fact existed as to whether the school employees knew that the child was subjected to ongoing verbal and physical bullying prior to the pencil incident such that these school employees “consciously disregarded a known or obvious risk of physical harm” to the bullied child, which is an exception to school employee immunity under R.C. 2744.03(A)(6)(b). A.R. at ¶ 42. In this case, the appellate court determined that this issue can only be resolved at trial.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing like the Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

 

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