Reported by Maura Dolan, LA Times, March 9, 2012 – Ruling in a Santa Clarita case, it says students may sue districts for alleged abuse by school employees if administrators ignore warning signs or fail to monitor the workers.
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, above, wrote for the court. (Paul Sakuma / Associated Press)
Students who are sexually abused by school employees may sue public districts if their administrators ignored warning signs or failed to monitor the employees, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday.
The state high court’s ruling revived a lawsuit against the William S. Hart Union High School District by a student who alleged that a counselor repeatedly abused him sexually.
The suit said that school administrators knew or should have known that the counselor, Roselyn Hubbell, had a propensity for sexual abuse when they hired her at Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita.
Hubbell, whom the district fired, eventually was arrested at a motel with another boy and charged with a misdemeanor.
Stuart Esner, a lawyer for the student, said the ruling “will allow compensation for people who are harmed and maybe have the side effect of increasing vigilance.” But Robert A. Olson, an attorney for the district, denied the suit’s charges and expressed concern that the ruling would entangle individual administrators in litigation, regardless of whether allegations were true. “This expanded vulnerability to litigation will inevitably affect those individuals’ as well as the district’s and all California educators’ ability to provide quality education to their students,” Olson said.
The ruling noted that any monetary damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress would have to be apportioned according to fault, and “the greater share of fault will ordinarily lie with the individual who intentionally abused or harassed the student.”
I am happy to learn of this ruling and that there is some recourse for the children and their families, however, I think that background checks and psychological testing is something that should be instituted for all teachers and school employees who have direct contact for any period of time with students. I know from experience that psychological testing by answering a series of questions can result in a good idea of the psychological MO of an individual.
With all the recent sexual abuse issues in our schools lately, I am starting to think that many teachers may go into this industry to satisfy their sexual appetite. There needs to be a way to detect this before they ever enter a classroom.
I do believe that these sex offenders should be allowed bail only if it is proven that they are not a “flight risk”. Their behavior is totally unacceptable and the justice system needs to be completely confident that they will not repeat these offenses once they have been caught and subsquently released until their court dates.
What’s your opinion on this situation and ruling?