How Safe Does Your Child’s School Have to Be?

The duties owed by educators to maintain safety in Ontario’s elementary and secondary schools are prescribed under the Education Act and its regulations, but also by the Occupiers’ Liability Act and the common law.

Teachers are obliged to ensure that all reasonable safety procedures are carried out. They must maintain, under the direction of the principal, proper order and discipline in the classroom, and while on duty in the school and on the school ground. They must carry out assigned supervision duties and instructional programs.

Principals are required to maintain proper order and discipline in the school. They must give “assiduous attention to the health and comfort of the pupils, to the cleanliness, temperature and ventilation of the school, to the care of all teaching materials and other school property, and to the condition and appearance of the school buildings and grounds.” Principals are charged with responsibility for the instruction and discipline of pupils in the school, and for the organization and management of the school. They must provide for the supervision of pupils when school buildings and playgrounds are open to pupils, and during any school activity authorized by the Board.

The Boards of Education are to ensure that all schools under their charge comply with the Education Act and the regulations.

The Boards of Education are also compelled, as “occupiers” under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, to take such care as in all the circumstances is reasonable to see that persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.

In other words, the law does not require perfection, and Boards of Education will not be liable for every injury that occurs on school premises or during school activities. The standard is reasonableness, and what a careful or prudent parent would do to ensure safety.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury on school premises or during school activities, you should call an experienced and recognized personal injury lawyer immediately.

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