On July 16, 2013, the Delaware Supreme Court decided an important case about school violence and safety: Rogers v. Christina School District. In this case, for four hours, a high school boy spoke with his school counselor about his suicidal feelings. After the meeting, the counselor felt the boy was no longer suicidal. The counselor sent the boy back to class and emailed a note about the situation to other school officials. However, the counselor failed to tell the boy’s guardian. The boy went home that day and hanged himself. His family sued.
The trial judge dismissed a portion of the case, finding that the school could not be held liable for wrongful death because it had no duty to prevent a student’s suicide that occurred off school grounds. The Supreme Court agreed.
However, the Supreme Court sent another portion of the case back to the trial judge, finding that the school could still be held liable for the boy’s death because the counselor’s failure to notify the boy’s guardian violated school district and state department of education protocols, both of which were designed to protect students in crisis situations. The legal doctrine underlying the Court’s decision is called negligence per se.
You can read the decision here.