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Law Updates

What is Negligent Supervision in a School or Daycare Setting?

group of small nursery school kids playing outside

Children will experience a variety of situations and experiences when they walk out the front door to school each morning. This includes new activities on school grounds, field trips, and new places. While parents hope their children and supervisors will use common sense and make intelligent decisions throughout the school day, it is not always possible.

Children spend more time at school or in daycare than at home with their parents in the evenings. Parents cannot be there for their children every moment of the day. Therefore, they must rely on other school or daycare employees to care for their children. Parents expect their children to be appropriately supervised at school and daycare facilities. This can be translated in another way: Schools and daycare centers have a legal responsibility to ensure that children are safe. What happens if a child gets hurt in such a situation? What is the best way to determine who is at fault for an injury? Continue reading to find out more.

What is adequate supervision?

It all depends on the circumstances. Teachers and administrative personnel may need to supervise one student, but not necessarily the next. Even for a single child, the required supervision may change throughout the week or even during a school day. Bottom line: The law does not have a set standard for “adequate supervision.” Although it is fluid and subject to change, some common factors can influence it.

Factors that Determine Adequate Supervision

The child’s age and the type of activity will determine the required level of supervision. Many factors can influence the level of supervision needed for any given situation.

  • Age of the child
  • Experience level of the child
  • Nature of the activity
  • Factors beyond the control of the supervisor

Let’s look at the possible applications of these factors to a particular situation.

Age: A kindergarten student who uses scissors to create art may need more supervision than a middle-school student.

Experience: A boy who has played tackle football for many years may not require the same supervision as a new player.

Nature of the Activity: A group of children reading in a classroom might not need the same supervision as a group playing dodgeball during P.E. class.

External Factors: Classrooms are relatively controlled environments, and the environment can impact the extent to which the supervisor controls outside factors. A playground, for example, is more dynamic than a classroom, and field trips can pose more dangers to children’s health than a playground. Each situation will require different levels of supervision.

Important to remember that adequate supervision does not mean taking reasonable steps to ensure safety for children participating in risky activities like sports or field trips. Schools and daycare facilities are responsible for supervising children in a safe environment and minimizing dangers to their safety and well-being.

Schools and daycare facilities must protect children from:

  • Harm from other students such as bullying and physical assault
  • Harm from adults nearby, such as abuse or abduction.

Schools and daycare centers are responsible for monitoring children’s environments for dangers and threats. The duty to provide adequate supervision does not end with monitoring and observing the environment, including taking all necessary steps to eliminate hazards or threats. Depending on the situation, the required action might be as simple as taking a child’s ball from their hands. In extreme cases, calling the police might be necessary.

This information brings us back to our original question: What is Negligent Supervision exactly? It is simply a failure to provide sufficient supervision in the given circumstances. As we have discussed, many variables determine the level of control. Suppose a daycare center or school district fails to provide adequate supervision in a particular situation, and a child suffers from harm. In that case, the school district can and should be held responsible.

If you feel your child was injured due to negligent supervision or dangerous conditions at school or daycare, contact the personal injury Law Office of Gloria Seidule for a free consultation at 772-287-1220. If there is no recovery, there are no fees.

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