From the Winston-Salem Journal, Michael Hewlett discusses a case in which a school board was not liable for the assault by a van driver who was employed by an independent contractor providing transportation services. Michael writes:
The N.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the Stokes County Board of Education is not liable for an incident in which a van driver sexually assaulted a disabled student 21 times over two days. That’s partly because the driver was employed by an independent contractor and the school system cannot be held liable for the independent contractor’s actions, the court said.
But the court also said that school officials could have prevented the sexual assault if a monitor had been on the van. The Stokes County school system had provided a monitor when the student rode a yellow school bus, but that changed when the school system contracted transportation services to an independent contractor, Yadkin Valley Economic Development District (YVEDDI) in 2013. According to court papers and testimony at a hearing, the student’s mother was never notified and the issue was never brought up during a meeting about the student’s individualized education plan.“Because the Board’s customary practice had been to provide transportation for (the student) on an exceptional students school bus staffed with a safety monitor, we emphasize that (the student’s) injury was one that could have been prevented,” the court said in its ruling.However, the court upheld a decision by a Stokes County judge to grant summary judgment in favor of the school board because state case law says that school systems can outsource transportation services to a contractor and cannot be held liable for the contractor’s actions.