PLAINTIFFS' TRIAL BRIEF
filed with the SUPERIOR COURT, FRANKLIN COUNTY, WASHINGTON
Jan. 22nd 2003
HIGH, Plaintiffs, vs.
PASCO SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendants.
TRIAL ISSUES - # 1
Given the District’s actual and
imputed knowledge of the risk of harm Andrew S. presented to other students,
was the District negligent in its prior handling of Andrew S’ long-standing
behavior problems, discipline and discipline records?
The District negligently breached its duty to protect its
students from the risk of harm presented by Andrew S’ long-standing behavioral
problems, negligently supervised him and the location of the beating, and
negligently investigated the incident and negligently disciplined both
By virtue of the special custodial relationship a school has over its students,
a school district owes a duty to protect the pupils in its custody from
dangers reasonably to be anticipated. In J.N. v. Bellingham Sch.
Dist., 74 Wn. App. 49, 871 P.2d 1106 (1994), an elementary school student
was sexually abused throughout the school year in the boys’ rest room of
the school by another elementary school student. Unlike the case
before this court, the school district recognized the behavioral problem
and made the abuser a “focus of concern” for his behavior, had him psychologically
evaluated, found him “severely behaviorally disabled” and in need of an
individualized education program designed to address his behavior.
The abuser’s conduct during the school year leading up to the assaults
[A.B.]'s behavior seems out of control. . . . He is constantly
moving and bothering others with verbal teasing, making faces, pulling
hair, poking, kicking, leaning on, etc. . . . Even the best, most patient
kids ask me privately if they have to work with him. . . . He is totally
disruptive in cooperative learning situations and group work activities.
He has very poor attention skills.
(Ibid., at 53.)
When the victim brought legal action for the school’s negligent supervision
of A.B., the school refused to produce the psychological assessment and
moved for dismissal, which was granted by the trial court on the theory
that the sexual assaults were not foreseeable based on the student’s prior
conduct. The Court of Appeals reversed, ordered production of the
assessment, and remanded for trial, stating:
Under well-established principles, when a pupil attends a school,
he or she is subject to the rules and discipline of the school, and the
protective custody of the teachers is substituted for that of the parent.
v. Grant Cy. Sch. Dist. 128, 42 Wn.2d 316, 319-20, 255 P.2d 360 (1953).
The duty imposed under these circumstances is one of reasonable care: as
it supervises the pupils within its custody, the district is required to
exercise such care as a reasonably prudent person would exercise under
the same or similar circumstances. Briscoe v. School Dist. 123,
32 Wn.2d 353, 362, 201 P.2d 697 (1949); McLeod, 42 Wn.2d at 319-20
(liability of school district is to be determined according to the normal
rules of tort law). "The basic idea is that a school district has the power
to control the conduct of its students while they are in school or engaged
in school activities, and with that power goes the responsibility of reasonable
supervision." Peck v. Siau, 65 Wn. App. 285, 292, 827 P.2d 1108,
review denied, 120 Wn.2d 1005 (1992).
As noted above, the District moved for summary judgment May 21, 2002, and
that motion was denied, except for the unpleaded theory that the District
had a duty to intervene after the end of the school year to prevent Jared
High’s suicide, which was precluded by the court’s order. The issues
of duty, breach and causation, and the factual and legal bases for
plaintiffs’ claims were thoroughly briefed at that time. Rather
than encumber this brief with another recitation of those matters, plaintiffs
merely direct this court to the summary judgment briefs of the parties.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED this 22nd day of January, 2003.
By: Jay E. Leipham, WSBA # 4961
(Attorney for Brenda High)
HIGH v. PASCO SCHOOL DISTRICT
TRIAL BRIEF & FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Complaint for Damages
Rest of the Story
- The Forseeable Consequences of Bullying
the Pasco School District wouldn't help Jared
Court Case about Videos
on a bus & bullying
HEAR JARED'S VOICE - PLAY
- From an interview with Pasco School District investigators concerning
the assault. This is a recording of a recording and it isn't real
clear, but worth the download effort. Jared had a real mellow voice.
Note: If you have a slow load wav, wait for it to load entirely and then
play again from the start. 5 minutes long
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