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Running head: Portfolio #3 Liability in the case of Ray Knight 1

Portfolio #3

Liability in the case of Ray Knight

Cassandra Rasmussen

College of Southern Nevada

Sun. April 21, 2019


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Safety of students in schools is an issue taken very seriously by administrators, teachers,

and parents alike. Occasionally instances happen where a determination of responsibility needs

to be carried out. Ray Knight, a middle school student was suspended from school. Ray Knight

did not tell his parents about his 3-day suspension. While written notice was sent home with Ray,

he threw the notice away. The school district’s policy in place required that, in addition to

written notice (to be delivered by the student) that the parent(s) would also be notified, via mail

and/or telephone. This procedure was not followed. On day one of Ray Knight’s suspension, Ray

went over to a friend’s house, where he was shot accidently. The courts must now determine

whether the school district can be held accountable for negligence and liability charges.

The first case presented in favor of the Ray Knight’s parents in negligence against the

school district in question is Johnson Johnson v. School District of Millard (1998). In this case,

Robbie L. Johnson, a first grader at Willa Cather Elementary School, sustained an injury above

his right eye. Students were learning to play the childhood game “London Bridge”. While the

teacher had her back to the children (which is undisputed), Johnson was accidently thrown into a

bookcase (two students accidently released their hands after intensely swinging Johnson in their

arms). When Johnson was thrown, he hit his head on a bookcase which resulted in a cut that

“extended to the bone and divided the muscle through its length”. This injury required Johnson

to receive 50 stiches to close the wound; additionally, it resulted in blurred vision and now

Johnson suffers from recurrent headaches as a result of the incident. The parents felt this injury

was the result of negligence by the teacher, and the court agreed. The court awarded monetary

compensation and found the school liable. This case is similar because both cases resulted in a

serious injury occurring to the student. Johnson suffered an injury due to his teacher’s lack of
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attention, while Knight suffered an injury due to lack of supervision, when his parents believed

he was being supervised. Additionally, the court found that “mere instruction” to the students on

how to play the game was inadequate, just like in Knight’s case, where his parents’ notification

was inadequate.

The second case presented in favor of Ray Knight’s parents is D.C. v ST. Landry Parish

School BD. (2001) in which K.C., a 12-year old seventh grader wore inappropriate attire to

school. The student was informed she must obtain a change of clothes, as her outfit was deemed

inappropriate. When K.C. called home, her 18-year old brother did not have transportation to

facilitate her request. At this point, K.C. informed Ms. Guilbeau (office secretary) that the only

way she could change clothes is if she went home and changed. K.C. then signed herself out

school and proceeded to walk home, even though it was against school policy for someone of

K.C.’s age to legally excuse themselves out of the school’s care. When K.C. was 8 blocks from

the school she was sexually molested by Neil Mark Lewis. This case relates to Ray Knight’s case

because in both cases, school policy and proper procedure was not followed; this legally was

found to sustain the claim that a breach of duty of reasonable supervision was compromised. Due

to the school policy not being properly executed, the court sided with K.C. and granted monetary

compensation for medical expenses and damages. In this case, the student was allowed to leave

school grounds and subsequently sustained injuries as a result. Knight’s parents were not notified

of his suspension, and subsequently he sustained a gunshot wound. The school district violated

their own duty to inform the parents, who, if they were made aware, could have provided

adequate child care.

The first case presented in favor of the school district is Huey v. Caldwell Parish School

Board (2013). In which, high school student LaShaun Thompson lied to her bus driver (W.L.
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Rush) in order to facilitate a ride so she could partake in an illegal relationship with adult, Gary

Thomas. LaShaun told Rush she had a doctor appointment on three separate occasions and

provided a forged note from her parents. During these events, Lashaun was actually going to an

apartment where she partook in intercourse with Gary Thomas. LaShaun became pregnant and

told her mother. LaShaun’s mother then contacted police and Thomas was then arrested and

subsequently sentenced. The parents believed the school should be held accountable as LaShaun

was in the school’s care when the incidents were allowed to occur. However, the court found that

the injuries incurred by LaShaun were not foreseeable, and therefore the school could not be held

liable. Additionally, the court found because “there was no written policy governing students

exiting a school bus at the time this event occurred” there was no recourse for which the school

could be held liable. This case is similar to Knight’s because while the school violated their own

policies and procedures, there was no way for the school to foresee that Knight’s suspension

would result in him being shot.

The case Peters v. Allen Parish School Board (2012) is the second case presented in

favor of the school district. In this case, William Peters had provisional custody of his ex-

girlfriend Crystal Cheney’s children, as she had abandoned her children years ago and married

someone in another city. It should be noted that these two children were not Mr. Peters’

biological children, but he cared for them for just under a decade, as if they were his own

children. Out of the blue, Ms. Cheney (along with her brother and father) showed up to her

children’s school and demanded to collect her children in order to drive them out of state. At this

point, she revoked the provisional custody from Mr. Peters (who was not present, as he was not

contacted). After contacting the police and district attorney, the principal (Linda Thompson)

decided to release the children to Ms. Cheney. When the children were brought forth, they both
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had tantrums, and were dragged, kicking and screaming, into their mother’s car. This was

observed by Ms. Thompson and the school counselor, Rachelle Ardoin. The children were

subsequently driven out of state, abandoned again by their mother, and forced to live with their

grandfather for 5 years until they were removed from the home by CPS. Mr. Peters fought for

custody of the children (which he eventually was granted) and sued the school for negligence,

and that the school did not take the well-being of the children into consideration. The school was

found to not be at fault, as Ms. Thompson did everything within her legal ability to do so. While

Ms. Thompson did everything she could in the policy of the school, she did not take into account

the reactions of the children, nor did it seem suspicious to her that the children’s birth certificates

that Ms. Cheney had in her possession were certified only a few days before the incident,

therefore not taking the children’s well-being and safety into consideration. This is the reason

this case relates back to the Ray Knight case because Knight’s teachers did not do everything

they could to keep Ray Knight safe, nor did they take his well-being into consideration.

My decision in this case is in favor of the parents. While Ray Knight’s activities outside

of the school falls outside the purview of the school’s responsibility, if the school had followed

proper procedure, then it is entirely possible that Ray Knight would not have gotten shot. In both

Johnson Johnson v. School District of Millard (1998) and D.C. v. ST. Landry Parish School BD.

(2001), the school failed to follow the proper procedures to keep the students safe. That neglect

is exactly the type of neglect that happened with Ray Knight. His school failed to follow the

proper procedure, and Ray Knight was injured. Therefore, the court would be correct in siding

with Ray Knight’s parents.


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References

FindLaw's Court of Appeal of Louisiana case and opinions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2019, from

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/la-court-of-appeal/1612977.html

FindLaw's Court of Appeal of Louisiana case and opinions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2019, from

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/la-court-of-appeal/1620864.html

FindLaw's Supreme Court of Nebraska case and opinions. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2019, from

https://caselaw.findlaw.com/ne-supreme-court/1305437.html

Louisiana, C. O. (n.d.). D.C. v. ST. LANDRY PARISH | 802 So.2d 19 (2001) | 2so2d191819.

Retrieved April 18, 2019, from https://www.leagle.com/decision/2001821802so2d191819

Underwood, J., & Webb, L. D. (2006). School law for teachers: Concepts and applications. Upper

Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.