Public school districts and their administrators have a duty to protect students from child molesters and sexual abuse, according to a California State Supreme Court ruling this week. What this means is that students may sue school districts for alleged sexual abuse by school employees if administrators ignore warning signs or fail to monitor employees.
School principals and other supervisors "have the responsibility of taking reasonable measures to guard pupils against harassment and abuse from foreseeable sources," Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote for the court.
The case involves a lawsuit filed against the William S. Hart Union High School District by a student who alleged that a counselor sexually abused him. The lawsuit said that school administrators knew or should have known that the counselor had a history of child molestation before it hired her and did nothing to warn people about it or prevent it from happening in the future.
Although private sector employers are often held responsible for injuries their employees inflict at work, the court in 1989 said the molestation was unrelated to the teacher's job duties, and liability might interfere with education by discouraging schools from letting teachers interact with students in informal settings.
The difference in Thursday's case was that the 14-year-old plaintiff claimed school officials knew, or should have known, that his counselor had a record of sexual contact with minors when they hired her.
The decision came at a time when Los Angeles Unified School District faces dozens of lawsuits stemming from a sexual misconduct case that alleges that the principal and other administrators were negligent because they did not take action against Mark Berndt despite complaints that date to the early 90's.
Contact a Child Molestation Victims’ Rights Law Firm
If your child and your family has been victimized by a predator, contact a San Jose child molestation victims’ rights lawyer at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard. You get aggressive legal representation for your sexual abuse case starting with a free case evaluation. And you will never be obligated to pay a penny to our attorneys unless we collect. For a confidential free consultation with an attorney, please give us a phone call at 408-289-1417. You may also fill out the case evaluation form to your right. We’re ready to help you.