Charter schools have become an increasingly popular choice for parents seeking alternative education options for their children in North Carolina. While charter schools offer unique approaches to education, they are no longer immune to legal challenges, particularly in cases of negligence due to a recent holding by the North Carolina Supreme Court. In this blog post, we will explore the possibility of suing a North Carolina charter school for negligence, the legal principles involved, and the steps you should take if you believe your child has been a victim of negligence at a charter school.
Negligence, in the context of charter schools, refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care to protect students from harm. To establish a negligence claim against a North Carolina charter school, you typically need to prove the following elements:
- Duty of Care: The school owed a duty of care to your child, which is generally the case when a child is enrolled in a school.
- Breach of Duty: The school breached its duty of care by failing to act as a reasonably prudent school would under similar circumstances.
- Causation: The school’s breach of duty directly caused harm or injury to your child.
- Damages: Your child suffered actual damages, such as physical injuries, emotional distress, or educational setbacks, as a result of the negligence.
The Role of Charter School Status:
It’s important to note that the status of a charter school in North Carolina does not exempt it from being held liable for negligence. Charter schools are considered public schools and, as such, are responsible for the safety and well-being of their students.
Steps to Pursuing a Negligence Claim:
If you believe your child has been a victim of negligence at a North Carolina charter school, here are some steps to consider:
- Document Everything: Keep records of any incidents, injuries, communications with the school, and medical treatment received by your child.
- Consult an Attorney: Seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney who specializes in personal injury or education law. They can evaluate the details of your case and advise you on your legal options.
- Gather Evidence: Your attorney will help you gather evidence to support your claim. This may include witness statements, surveillance footage, and school policies and records.
- Negotiation or Litigation: Depending on the strength of your case and the school’s response, your attorney will guide you through negotiations with the school or initiate a lawsuit if necessary.
- Court Proceedings: If your case goes to court, your attorney will represent your interests, present evidence, and argue your case before a judge and jury.
State of North Carolina v. Kinston Charter School
The North Carolina Supreme Court recently ruled that nonprofit charter schools can’t avoid facing civil fraud claims alleging mismanagement of taxpayer money by arguing they are immune from such lawsuits like a state agency.
The justices reversed a 2019 Court of Appeals decision that had dismissed claims against Kinston Charter Academy, which closed abruptly to 190 students and their teachers in 2013. A 2016 lawsuit by then-Attorney General Roy Cooper sought financial damages for the state and monetary penalties against the academy, its CEO and the chair of its board.
Kinston Charter Academy and leaders were accused by Cooper’s office of violating the state’s False Claims Act and deceptive trade laws. State attorneys allege the school provided a bogus upgraded enrollment estimate to state education officials that meant receiving additional funds, even as leaders knew the school would not last the 2013-14 school year.
Ultimately the North Carolina Supreme Court that charter schools are not agency’s of the state entitled to sovereign immunity.
While North Carolina charter schools provide unique educational opportunities, they are not immune to legal responsibilities, including those related to negligence. If you believe your child has been harmed due to the negligence of a charter school, it’s crucial to consult with a qualified attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and seek justice for your child.