Student wins right to sue school for negligence

The press over-publicizes the mass-murders like the recent on in Littleton, yet they fail to report on the routine student harassment that is common in government schools.A seventh-grader in Trenton, NJ recently won the right to sue her government school for failing to protect her from other students. The seventh-grader claims that her classmates regularly shoved and kicked her because she was too smart.

She did not win her case but she did win the right to sue her school for negligence. Up until the recent State appeal court decision, lawyers for her school had successfully argued that the school could not be sued because it was protected by the state’s Charitable Immunity Act.

A lower court held that since the school was a nonprofit organization with the sole purpose of education it could use the Charitable Immunity Act as a defense in lawsuits. The state appeals court said that was stretching the law too far.

“We have found no authority for the proposition embraced by the trial court that a local board of education, a public entity, is entitled to the statutory immunity simply because it is a not-for-profit entity and has exclusive educational purposes,” the court ruled.

“A public school board, like a municipality, is not a private charity which depends on charitable contributions and whose funds are held in trust solely for the purpose of the charity,” the court found. “Moreover, a board of education, as a public entity, is obviously not dependent on fund-raising activities and charitable contributions in order to provide its services.”

“This ruling means that parents and their children are in a better position to be protected by the court than they were two days ago,” said Christine Stevenson, who argued the appeal on behalf of the student, Diane Hamel. “It’s common sense that a public elementary school isn’t entitled to charitable immunity.”

This court win now allows Hamel to sue her school for negligence. Hamel claims that due to continual teasing and physical assaults during the 1993-1994 school year, she collapsed in class and required hospitalization. She also claims that the abuse caused such emotional distress that she suffered partial paralysis in her right leg, as well as psychological abuse.

Hamel is one of many students who cannot choose their schools. If government school students are unlucky enough to be the target of high school bullies, they must endure day after day of harassment and attacks.

If you’re school will not protect you from harassment, then rather than wait for a student in a trenchcoat to kill the bullies, you have the right to sue your school. You’re school may try to claim immunity but you can then sue for the right to sue them. Then you can sue for a financial settlement that will allow you to get a good therapist and escape your government school and reach the Promised Land: a privately owned school.

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