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Woman Confronts Former Abuser – Liability of School District

doodled-desks-2-1193228-mA 28 year old woman from California recently posted a video in which she confronted a former teacher that allegedly abused her while she was a middle school student. Jamie, the woman who confronted her abuser, had been waiting for years to confront the woman who had allegedly sexually and physically abused her while she was a young child on the woman’s basketball team. After years had passed, and Jamie had a daughter of her own, she finally worked up the courage to confront her abuser. Jamie located the accused and discovered that she was an assistant principal in another school district. Jamie decided to confront the woman who had tormented her and, unbeknownst to the accused, recorded the conversation.

The recording of the conversation has gone viral. In the week since its posting the video has had over a million hits on YouTube. In the video, Jamie asks the accused whether she has any idea how many issues that Jamie has developed as a result of the abuse. The former teacher says she regrets the abuse and that she was only trying to “help” Jamie. The accused, who seemingly admitted to many of the allegations put forward by Jamie, acknowledged that she was disgusted with her own behavior. Jamie submitted a copy of the recording to the former school district in which the abuse took place and to the local police department as well. The police are currently conducting an investigation into the allegations, and as of the date of this post, the accused has been arrested.

Jamie may have an opportunity to file suit against the school district in which the abuse occurred. In the past few years in Massachusetts there has been a surge of students and parents bringing suit against public schools for injuries sustained as a result of the acts or omissions on the part of school officials. School districts have been faced with charges ranging from children getting injured on school grounds to negligence claims against the school for failing to protect children from bullying. Generally speaking, under the Massachusetts Torts Claim Act, public employees (such as teachers and faculty of public schools) are generally immune from negligence claims. As long as an employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the injury and reasonably cooperates in a defense of any action brought against the school- that individual will be granted immunity from negligence claims. 

Under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 258 § 2, the liability of a school for negligence is limited to a maximum of $100,000.00, regardless of whether the school is being held responsible for the acts or omissions of an employee, or whether the school is being held responsible for policies and procedures in place that somehow harmed the complaining individual. Prior to suing a school district, or a public employer under the Massachusetts Torts Claim Act, an individual must present his or her claim in writing within two years of the complained of conduct. The purpose of a presentment letter allows timely notice to the appropriate official and allows the school district to determine the merits of the individual’s allegations. Depending on the determination of that investigation after presentment is made— the school may deny, settle, or otherwise resolve the claim.

To see the video of Jamie confronting her abuser click hereTo learn more about claims against school districts, please view the portion of our site discussing Negligent SupervisionTo schedule a free consultation with lawyer Daniel Cappetta, call our office today at (508) 969-9505 or fill out or contact form available on the right side of this page.