Over 100 Pending Lawsuits Blame the Parkland Shooting on the School District. Do They Stand a Chance? | #schoolshooting

The Parkland notices focus on several alleged failures by Broward Schools.

Some complainants believe the district failed to act on numerous troubling incidents involving Cruz. Others cite unclear policies about how schools should respond to active shooters, or lax training and oversight for school security staff.

Similar claims have been made about other school districts after other shootings, said Charles B. Vergon, a lawyer and professor of educational leadership at Youngstown State University in Ohio. But families have often struggled to gain legal traction, he said.

In May, for example, a Connecticut judge threw out a lawsuit against the Newtown school district that had been filed by the families of two children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.

The families had argued that the district was negligent on several fronts, including a failure to provide classroom doors that could be locked from the inside and a failure to properly train and supervise staff on lockdown procedures.

But the judge wrote that “emergencies, by their very nature, are sudden and often rapidly evolving events.” She ruled that under the circumstances, school employees were shielded by governmental immunity, saying they could not have been expected to have acted “in a prescribed manner.”

Other suits against districts have met similar fates.

In 2012, for example, a 17-year-old student shot and killed three people inside Ohio’s Chardon High School. Victims’ families attempted to sue the Chardon school district, its superintendent and board, the high school and middle school principal, and other school officials. The victims’ families claimed the district’s negligence and misconduct had led to the wrongful deaths of their children.

A judge dismissed most of the claims and eventually concluded there was no evidence of malicious intent, bad faith, or reckless conduct by the education officials.

“While there are a few cases where the victims’ families have successfully sued school districts or law enforcement officials, those are still relatively rare,” Vergon said.

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