KEY POINT 10-11 A church may be legally responsible on the basis of negligent supervision for injuries resulting from a failure to exercise adequate supervision of its programs and activities.
* A New York court ruled that a school has no legal duty to protect students against criminal assaults after they leave school property, and as a result a school was not responsible for injuries suffered by a high school student who was assaulted by another student while on his way home. A 15- year-old high school student was on his way home from school when he was assaulted by a fellow student on a subway platform. The victim sued his school, claiming that it was negligent in failing to provide “adequate security and to protect students from foreseeable criminal activity.” The court noted that when physical custody and control over a child ceases because the child has “passed out of the orbit of its authority in such a way that the parent is perfectly free to reassume control over the child’s protection, the school’s custodial duty also ceases.” As a result, “when a student is injured off school premises, there can generally be no breach of a duty that extends only to the boundaries of school property. Under the circumstances of this case, the [school] may not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.”
Application. This case is significant because it demonstrates that schools, and churches, are not necessarily responsible for injuries to minors that occur off of church property and outside the context of any official program or activity. The court concluded that the school’s duty to protect the plaintiff only extended “to the boundaries of school property.” Stagg v. City of New York, 833 N.Y.S.2d 188 (N.Y.A.D. 2007).