In the case of Silano v. Board of Education, a special education elementary school student and his parents filed a ten-count complaint against a board of education and its employees, alleging negligence and recklessness resulted in the student being harassed at public school and on a school bus. The school board asserted the student’s claims were barred by governmental immunity. In law, negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. In order to succeed in this claim, the student must prove that (1) the school board and its employees owed a duty of care to the student, (2) the school board breached that duty and, (3) the breach of duty was a direct cause of the student’s (4) real and compensable injury. Generally, a school board, as an extension of a municipality, is entitled to governmental immunity. This usually protects the state and its agents from liability when acting in the furtherance of their duties. However, the town may not be protected if they violate or fail to perform a specific duty or directive that results in injury.
The student alleged the board breached its duty of supervision and the student came within an exception to governmental immunity. The supervision of students was a discretionary act requiring the exercise of judgment, entitling the school board to governmental immunity unless the student proved an exception to the defense. The student was not within the identifiable person subject to imminent harm exception to governmental immunity because the student’s generalized claim of harassment at school was necessarily unlimited as to duration if not geography. The alleged harm could have occurred at any future time or not at all. At the time of the harassment on the bus, Connecticut law had eliminated the defense of governmental immunity for that claim. The student failed to prove a negligence claim for the harassment on the bus because they did not show a duty had been breached. There was no testimony from anyone with personal knowledge of the harassment and no evidence fleshing out what happened.
The court entered judgment in favor of the board of education. “Specifically, the student and his parents have not proved that [the student] was treated differently from other special education students similarly situated” said the court. “Rather, the [school board and its employees] acted in good faith in the face of difficult circumstances.”
This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any education matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.
If you have a child with a disability and have questions about special education law, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com, to schedule a free consultation.
Source: Silano v. Bd. of Educ., 52 Conn. Supp. 42, 23 A.3d 104, 2010 Conn. Super. LEXIS 830 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2010)
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