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Safety Law News for May 2, 2019

May 3, 2019

• In California, the California Court of Appeal ruled that school officials may search the cell phone of a student when they have a reasonable belief that school rules have been violated.  The court affirmed the trial court ruling that the student’s cell phone was lawfully seized and searched when video recordings of female students in the locker room were posted on the Internet.  (In re Adrian O)

• In Alabama, the Supreme Court of Alabama held that state law does not make a school board or its members an arm of the state for purposes of Eleventh Amendment immunity for violating the federal civil rights of students.  The court ruled that while board members were entitled to qualified immunity in their individual capacities from the federal civil rights claim, they are not immune in their official capacity from lawsuits challenging school policies under federal law.  Parents of the student filed an excessive force lawsuit after a teacher assaulted their child.  (Ex parte Wilcox County Board of Education)

• In California, the California Court of Appeal ruled that state law protects a school district from liability for injuries resulting from the negligence of other persons or organizations using school facilities.  The court affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit by a parent who suffered serious injuries when he fell off an inflatable slide while attending a carnival held at the school sponsored by a community group and the parent-teacher association (PTA). (Grossman v. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District)

• In Indiana, the Court of Appeals of Indiana ruled that school officials are not entitled to immunity under state law in a wrongful-death lawsuit.  The court reversed a ruling by the trial court that dismissed a case involving a student who left school in mid-day and was murdered.  Parents argued that the school was liable for failing to properly supervise and monitor their child.  The appellate court held that the school could be liable if it was aware of the student's truancy and his status as a runaway, and failed to supervise him properly.  (Murray v. Indianapolis Public Schools) 

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