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We Owe No Duty to Tell You About Threats to Your Kids, Says NYC Dept of Ed


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12/8/2010
Jonathan Cooper
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I just finished writing a brief in response to an appeal taken by New York City's Department of Education in a school negligence case arising out of an assault on a student just before school .

You may just recall that a little over one year ago, I wrote about the Bronx trial court's decision I received holding that New York City's schools are required to notify parents if they become aware of an imminent danger to one of their students (see, "NYC Public School Must Notify Parent of Threat to Child, Bronx Court Holds"). Dissatisfied with this rule, the City appealed this decision, and now has argued that so long as the injury occurs off of school grounds and doesn't occur during school hours, they should bear no liability. In other words, despite acknowledging  their tacit knowledge of an imminent threat to one of its students (my client), they believe that the school has no obligation to notify that student's parents of the threat, and/or to undertake reasonable measures to protect that student who is under their care. 

I, for one, am offended by this, and here's why: taken to its logical conclusion, the following analogy is apt: during school hours and on school grounds, one student sets a ticking time bomb to go off immediately after school one block away from the school. That student, in a show of bravado, then tells the school's principal about it. After verifying that the threat is indeed credible, the school elects to keep this information confidential, or ignore it, rather than informing any of its students' parents about the threat, and affording them the opportunity to safely retrieve their children from school before the bomb is set to go off. 

If you ask the City, they would bear no liability in this scenario; if you ask me, I cannot imagine a greater dereliction of duty or school negligence

Category: School Negligence / Personal Injury

Jonathan Cooper
Employment Litigation and School Negligence Lawyer

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