Court rules school is liable for assault of student

Court gavel generic

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled a Cedar Rapids high school can be held liable for the sexual assault of a student that happened off school grounds.

The Des Moines Register reports a 14-year-old Cedar Rapids Kennedy student skipped the last class of a day to meet off-campus with a 19-year-old senior with whom she had a relationship.  The girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by the 19-year-old while another person shot BBs at her.

The Iowa Supreme court found schools can be sued for injuries to students, even if they happen off campus and outside of school hours, if the negligence of district employees increases the risk to the students.

In this case, the court said school officials did not do enough to prevent the mentally disabled girl from skipping school or to investigate the girl’s absence from class.  They recorded her absence but did not take any other steps to find the girl or notify her mother of her absence.

In the 5-2 decision, dissenting justices said the ruling puts an unreasonable burden on school employees and that it is an unwarranted expansion of liability for Iowa schools.

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