I read a sad case that tragically involved the death of an 11 year old girl who was killed while walking to her bus stop. It seems the young girl had been the brunt of teasing and bullying at her bus stop and on her bus. The girl’s mother met with school officials and they agreed to assign her to a different bus and new bus stop. The child was required to to cross a busy street to get to the new stop. Sadly, the girl was killed when she was struck by a car while crossing the street to get to the new stop. The specific facts of the accident are not set forth in the opinion.
The girl’s mother brought a wrongful death case against the school board alleging the school did not do enough to stop the teasing and bullying at the stop and on the bus and that the school assigned her to a bus stop that required her to cross the dangerous road. The trial court dismissed the case saying the school did not owe a duty of safety to the girl at the time she was killed.
The court said a school’s duty for a child’s safety begins only when the child enters the custody of the school. This generally occurs when the child is actually picked up by the school bus. similarly, the duty ends when the child is dropped off by the bus. While in the school’s custody, the school is fully responsible for the child’s safety, just as a parent would be. However, until that duty begins or just after it ends, the parent of the child has full responsibility for the child’s safety.
There is a sad lesson to be learned here. Parents must take the time to make sure the routes their children take to and from a bus stop are as safe and free from danger as possible. They must instruct their children in the dangers of being near traffic and to they must take care to teach their children to observe traffic conditions and understand traffic signals while walking to their bus stops. If the only way to make sure your child is completely safe means walking or driving them to the stop, or even school, each day, then do it for your child’s sake. We all have busy lives. But isn’t it worth it to take the time to make sure your most prized possession, your child, makes it safely to school each morning?