I had the opportunity to present a session at a conference for attorneys at the Walter F. George School of Law this week. The session was focused on how the Sandy Hook tragedy is likely to impact school safety liability. We discussed the potential for increased civil liability exposure from a number of increasingly popular yet theoretical approaches to school safety such as the lockout/lockdown approach to school lockdowns and efforts to teach students and staff to attack gunmen in active shooter situations.
While lives will likely be lost from these types of approaches, we feel that most litigation will still center around traditional school safety incidents such as accidents, medical emergencies, sexual assaults and other situations that occur far more often than school shootings. Since most serious injuries and deaths in American K12 schools do not involve acts of violence, it is important for school officials to use a comprehensive approach to school safety.
The presentation also reviewed how ineffective it can be for school officials to make major changes in school safety without a comprehensive school safety, security, climate, culture and emergency preparedness assessment. The need for due diligence when selecting school safety experts and products was also an important part of the discussion. It was great to have the opportunity to interact with so many attorneys who were interested not only in reducing the exposure of civil liability for schools, but in improving school safety as a primary means to do so.
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