Wednesday, December 17, 2008

School Seclusion Rooms? No Liability In Ohio

A recent CNN article highlighted a tragic story about a thirteen year old special needs student who hanged himself in a "school seclusion room" designed to isolate and/or punish him. This "room," more akin to a prison cell, housed this child at least 15 times before he committed suicide.

If something like this happened in Ohio, the school district would enjoy 100% immunity from any liability. Under a 2003 "tort reform" law (lobbied for by insurance companies who insure schools), schools are generally not liable for ANY negligent act. Two exceptions are the negligent operation of a school bus or other school vehicle, and "physical defects" on school grounds--like a collapsing ceiling, for example. And that's about it.

Pretty scary stuff if you think about it. School seclusion rooms? Meet soverign immunity . Translated, it means "the King can do no wrong." But when immunity can breed this much irresponsibility, perhaps its better suited for reality show contestants rather than institutions and their insurance companies that don't deserve it...


BenGlassLaw said...

This CNN report made me ill. It is unimaginable that an adult/school teacher would do something like this without (1) parents knowing fully what is going on in school and (2) some rules or regulations.

You are right, sovereign immunity needs to go out the door...its old and has no place in a world of readily available liability insurance.

Brian said...

Right you are. If this happened in a third world country, we'd still be suprised. And no accountability for a series of bad choices adds insult to tragedy.

jodi said...

this is so increbilbey sad. how can we continue to let things like this happen?