Printed from the blog of Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR, FDAI
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Email: lori_greene@allegion.com, Blog: www.idighardware.com or www.ihatehardware.com


Mar 13 2014

Schools Liable for Lack of Security?

Category: Locks & Keys,School SecurityLori @ 8:57 am Comments (3)
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A lawsuit was recently filed by families of Chardon High School shooting victims, alleging that the school administrators were aware that the high school needed more security, but failed to make changes.  The suit also states that administrators at the alternative school attended by the shooter (not the same school where the shooting occurred) failed to properly evaluate him, and did not provide warnings about his mental instability and potential for violence.  Both of the schools and school administrators were named in the lawsuit.

What do you think?  Should schools be held liable for “unacceptable” levels of security?  How much security is enough?  Are there established protocols to issue warnings of someone’s potential for violence?  At what point does it become too risky to allow that student access to the school?  What steps can schools take to not only provide physical protection for the building and its occupants, but to protect against lawsuits?

Families of Chardon High School shooting victims sue school district, alleging lack of security – Cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The families of three teenagers gunned down at Chardon High School sued the school district and the school where convicted shooter T.J. Lane attended, claiming officials failed to provide adequate security and assess the danger Lane posed his fellow students.

Ohio dad dies exactly 2 years after son was killed in school shooting – CBS News

Attorneys for families of the victims, including Rusty King, and some of those who were wounded filed a personal injury lawsuit Thursday against the Chardon school district, some of its administrators and the alternative school that the shooter attended.

The suit contends that someone told Chardon schools and board members that security was a concern before the shooting, according to WOIO.

The lawsuit says that the defendants were “specifically warned and advised for the need for additional security at Chardon High School in order to protect the student body and deter the likelihood of criminal assaults.”

Chardon, Ohio families sue school district – UPI

“The Chardon Schools and/or the individual defendants who were whether employed by Chardon Local Schools or served on their Board, were specifically warned and advised for the need for additional security at Chardon High School in order to protect the student body and deter the likelihood of criminal assaults by at-risk students and/or intruders,” the lawsuit says. “Despite these warnings and recommendations, Defendant Chardon Schools and/or their Board and Administrators failed to provide the additional security, procedures and politics to prevent and deter criminal attacks from happening.

“The shooting incident occurred within and on the grounds of public buildings used for government functions and is due, at least in part, to employee and board negligence, reckless conduct, willful indifference, malice conscious disregard, as well as, physical defects in the the facilities.”

3 Responses to “Schools Liable for Lack of Security?”

  1. Curtis Meskus says:

    anyone can file a lawsuit at any time, what the merits of the suits are is up to the courts to decide

  2. Safecrackin Sammy says:

    I think the obvious key here is what is an acceptable level of security????

    There are no specifics for a level in any area of the country that are all encompassing. If you ask the teachers/administrators/parents/students in any one school you will get a multitude of answers that still wont define the level..

    The schools are responsible to a point but anyone bringing suit is going to have to demonstrate by example of a like school with more adequate security and that the defendant was intentionally dilatory.

    Unfortunately there are too many abstracts… I can see school systems taking out excess umbrella insurance to protect themselves from these types of liabilities. Thats going to take money away that could have been spent on added security or improved education for the students.

  3. David Barbaree says:

    I think we live in an increasingly dangerous world. When bad things happen, people want to know why.
    Why did this happen?
    Who is to blame?
    How can we prevent this from happening again?
    If responsibility for the tragedy can be laid squarely on the shoulders of a certain party or parties as being “negligent, reckless, willfully indifferent, etc then we can all sleep better know the “responsible parties” have been punished.
    In my opinion, there are a few problems with this approach.
    1 – These tragedies stem from a complex set of societal issues. One person or entity’s “negligence” (if proven) may have only been one ingredient of that complex recipe. So focusing all the blame on that party or entity may satisfy some sense of justice, but does it really solve the complex problem? Will it prevent future tragedies?
    2 – The parents are outraged that the shooter was not assessed as a threat and therefore kept under some form of control. I have seen the school staff who deal with troubled teens like this and I have nothing but admiration for their commitment an patience in taking on such a task. I wonder how one of those parents would act if it was their child who had been assessed as a danger and locked up. Also, how long do you keep them locked up?
    3 – Security is a community task. A locked, highly secured door is NOT protecting against intrusion if it is held open or if students allow unauthorized people in through that locked door. I would contend that this happens everyday in schools across the nation!
    In many schools today, there is widespread disregard and even disdain for security measures, until something happens that scares people. Then it’s all about locking the doors and finding who to blame.

    Playing the blame game keeps the lawyers busy but I think it distracts from working the problem. Liability exposure only makes people or entities do things that will protect them from that exposure. This doesn’t make them safe from harm.
    Unfortunately, you can’t make a law that regulates human thinking and attitudes.

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