School Board Held Liable In Bullied Student's Suicide

by Joseph C. Maya on Apr. 21, 2017

Other Education Accident & Injury  Personal Injury Government  Government Agencies 

Summary: Blog post about a school board having legal liability for a bullied student's suicide.

If you have a question or concern about special education law, school administration, federal standards, or the overall rights of a student, please feel free to call the expert education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport today at (203) 221-3100 .

In the case of Estate of Girard v. Town of Putnam, the parents of a deceased high school student filed suit against a town, its board of education, and various school officials, arising from the student's suicide.

The parents sue the town and board of education for the negligent failure to implement anti-bullying and anti-suicide programs that could have otherwise prevented their son’s death. The school moved to strike these allegations. In procedural law, a motion to strike challenges the legal sufficiency of the legal allegations of any complaint for which relief is requested. Negligence is the allegation of a failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. In order to succeed in this claim, the student’s parents must prove that (1) the school board and its employees owed a duty of care to the deceased student, (2) the school board breached that duty and, (3) the breach of duty was a direct cause of the student’s (4) real and compensable injury. Generally, a school board, as an extension of a municipality, is entitled to governmental immunity. This usually protects the state and its agents from liability when acting in the furtherance of their duties. However, the town may not be protected if they violate or fail to perform a specific duty or directive that results in injury.

After due hearing, the court concluded that the suicide could have been a foreseeable result of the officials' failure to follow a suicide prevention policy, such that immunity did not apply to alleged violations of their ministerial duty. Governmental immunity pursuant to Connecticut law applied with respect to discretionary acts by the guidance counselor, such that claims of negligence for emotional distress could not withstand challenge by a motion to strike.

If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com, to schedule a free consultation.

Source: Estate of Girard v. Town of Putnam, 2011 Conn. Super. LEXIS 306 (Conn. Super. Ct. Jan. 28, 2011)

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