Visitor Question

What is the school’s liability for a dangerous student?

Submitted By: Anonymous (California)

A student has put his hands around another student’s neck multiple times now. Note that this is occurring at a private school where the student is a 6th grader. He is fairly small. The first time he put his hands around a classmate’s neck, he was seen by a teacher, and told “You can’t put your hands around someone’s neck.” It was a minor incident.

The second incident, he put his hand around a classmate’s neck and squeezed (this was also witnessed by a teacher). He was suspended. The third time (today) he put his hands around a classmate’s neck and held on longer, truly scaring the victim (it was in the hallway and not seen by a teacher). I assume he will again be suspended (but not expelled).

My question revolves around school liability. Given the foreseeability of a potential fourth incident, if this student puts his hands around someone’s neck again, what would have to occur for the school to face liability? How does liability work in a situation like this? Thank you for any perspective you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

A school district has a legal duty to do everything reasonably possible to assure the safety of its students. Included in that legal duty is the protection of its students.

From the facts you present, it is clear the school, through its principal, and/or teachers knew the boy was a danger to other classmates. It also seems clear the school has so far done what it believes to be fair to stop the student from continued acts of aggression.

The questions remains, what will happen if the student is allowed to once again be among other students, and the student in question injures another student, whether by choking or in another purposefully aggressive manner?

If that occurs, the school district may be liable for the injuries caused by the student. Moreover, the parents of the child may also be held liable, as they too knew about the student’s propensity for violence and were unable to control or eliminate it. The liability issue is likely to be quite nuanced if a serious injury were to take place.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: April 17, 2015

How Much is Your Injury Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney…

  • Your Accident
  • Your Claim
  • Contact Info
  • Your Evaluation
array(1) {
  object(WP_Term)#2437 (11) {
    string(44) "School Fights: Liability & Injury Claims"
    string(11) "page_id_417"
    string(12) "icc_qa_group"
    string(0) ""
    string(3) "raw"
    string(3) "246"

One thought on “What is the school’s liability for a dangerous student?

  1. Thank you, much appreciated. The school in question is a private school; I wonder if/how that changes things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *