ERIC Number: EJ894664
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Reference Count: 4
Taylor, Kelley R.
Principal Leadership, v10 n7 p8-10 Mar 2010
This article discusses whether school officials or districts can be held liable for student suicides. Generally speaking, there are two legal theories that underlie suicide-related lawsuits: (1) negligence--a claim that the school failed to uphold a particular duty to the student and that such failure contributed to the student's death (legally speaking, his or her "injury"); and (2) constitutional--usually that the school somehow deprived the student of a constitutional right, which led to the student's suicide. Overall, school administrators, district officials, and school staff members may be held liable for a student's suicide if they had actual knowledge of foreseeable harm and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent such harm. Liability may also be imposed if a school employee had a special relationship to the student or created the danger to which the student was exposed. Besides the legal burden in student suicide cases, school leaders have an unwavering duty to follow school policies and procedures that are related to school discipline issues and to respond appropriately to known or suspected student harassment. Although doing so will not prevent every student suicide, being proactive, attentive, and responsive to students who are in distress will convince many students that someone cares. Given the many challenges students face, knowing that someone cares enough to do the right thing just may be enough.
Descriptors: Suicide, Legal Responsibility, School Personnel, Negligence, Constitutional Law, Prevention, Court Litigation, Bullying, Civil Rights
National Association of Secondary School Principals. 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1537. Tel: 800-253-7746; Tel: 703-860-0200; Fax: 703-620-6534; Web site: http://www.principals.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A