December 17, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What is allowed/not allowed for field trips?

2. Chaperones and Field Trips?

3.Trailering and Band Equipment?

4. Construction Safety?

5. Construction Security?

6. Third party use of Facilities?

7. Access to Property Issues?

8. Could we put up no trespassing signs?

9. Should we just leave these areas like the track fields unlocked?

10. Access and Use Policy?

11. Someone falls in a hole that is on school grounds and is injured.  Who is responsible?

12. Student Transportation?

13. Student Transported by Others/Own Vehicle?

14. When do students become our responsibility?

15. Do we need to have windows in all interior doors within schools?

16. Does the Pool cover students who are performing community service hours?

17. A teacher would like to bring in and fly his drone for the students.  Is this o.k. from a liability stand point?

 

 

 

 

 

1. What is allowed/not allowed for field trips? Is there a list that states specifically what types of trips are covered and which are not?

MABE doesn’t prohibit anything. We leave that up to the individual member. There are definitely trips we feel present a higher risk than others, and some systems have gone so far as to identify “High Risk” activities that they have prohibited, but there is no state wide list that I am aware of. We are also very aware of liability exposures created, or made worse for members through contracts they enter into.  Top

 

2. What is the level of chaperones that we should have for field trips (day vs. overnight) and is this anywhere in writing?

MABE has not produced any specific guidelines, and this will vary considerably depending on the age of the students, the event and the activities taking place. I know some systems will list the ratio of chaperones to students on the permission slip that is sent home to parents. NFPA has standards specifically for day care (very young students).

Some organizations such as the American Canoe Association (ACA), Association for Experiential Education (AEE), and American Challenge Course Technology ( ACCT), will provide members guidelines.

In many situations if you’re visiting a center, they may have requirements as to how many chaperones the school system is required to provide to augment their staff. If you’d like us to poll members on any they use, we’d be happy to do so. It is important to have the right ratio for the event. I have seen 1:8 and 1:10 used in many cases for typical field trips. Top

 

3. We have a parent pull a BOE owned trailer that is used by the band to transport band instruments. Auto Insurance Coverage Primary and Excess?  Insurance follows the vehicle, right?  Band equipment coverage? 

You are correct that insurance does follow the vehicle, in this case the parent’s coverage would be primary on his auto and the Pool would be excess of that. The trailer being Board owned would be insured itself through the Pool. If the trailer is tagged through MVA it would be covered under the Pool’s auto coverage, with your school board’s deductible. If it is not tagged it would be considered covered property under the property scope with that deductible.

The band instruments that are Board property are covered under the Board’s property coverage with the Pool. I doubt the parent’s auto coverage would cover the damage to the instruments he was pulling in the trailer, unless the driver was at fault for the accident causing that damage and the Board could assert a claim against him for those costs. Instruments owned by students being carried in the trailer may be covered by owners of the instruments (parents’ homeowners coverage), or by the Pool’s property coverage if your school board is under an obligation to insure them (via an agreement on the same).

The parent driver is pulling a Board owned trailer and possibly Board owned instruments, so your Board has some “skin in the game” but not much control over the driver. Verifying the parent and his or her coverage annually is a very reasonable request. I also believe that using this procedure with all band trailers makes good sense. Top

 

4. If a building is being renovated and someone is hurt during those renovations such as on the playground or around the building, whom is responsible?  Is it the construction company or the board?  Should we close buildings and areas during that time?

If it is one of your employee’s who is “on the job”, Workers’ Compensation will cover the employee.  If the contractor was negligent, there is the potential to try and subrogate against the contractor for the injuries, but this is rare.

If it is a student, parent, or other non-employee who is injured, there is likely going to be shared liability depending on the circumstances.  Determining who is liable will depend on why the individual was in the area, who was controlling the area where the injury occurred and if there were any negligence on either part in carrying out their duty to provide a safe environment.  It is always a good idea to isolate construction areas from occupants, or to manage construction during off-hours, or during summer shut downs.  If any asbestos or lead abatement is taking place, effectively isolating the area is even more important.Top

 

5. If someone breaks in and the construction company has disabled the security system for the construction who is responsible for any damages or theft that may happen?

This also will depend on the contractual agreement (you can stipulate fire and security protection requirements within your job specifications), how the coverage’s are written, what was stolen and from where, and if someone were negligent in their duty to act.  If such a claim is reported to MABE, we’d have to subrogate against the contractor based on how it relates to the contract.  If you authorized the disabling and didn’t require any additional security, we’d likely be on the hook.  Depending on the case, claims may be filed with both carriers (MABE and The contractors carrier), coverage will be determined, and the case will be settled by the carriers based on the facts surrounding the loss and how the contractual agreement is written.  If Construction materials or tools are involved, and if the contractor has control over when and how the materials are staged, and secured, they would typically be liable.  Again, you can stipulate how materials will be staged and protected throughout the construction process.  During construction, the contractor should be required to maintain security and fire protection features of the building during the construction process.  If new features are being added, your construction documents should specify when they are to be activated.

For instance, if there are no sectional valves on the sprinkler system or zones on the security system and the entire systems need to be deactivated to do work, it will make more sense to include the addition of sectional valves and security zones in the construction contracts, and activate them as soon as practicable.Top

 

6. If the public is using our building after hours, who is responsible if someone gets hurt?

It depends on the facility agreement, the injury, who is supervising, what caused the injury, and the insurance coverage’s carried by the group.  If a church group is using the gymnasium, and there is a climbing rope left dangling or a climbing wall accessible and a member of the congregation falls, you will have some shared liability for leaving the features unsecured. 

With outside groups you want a contract that will specify what they have access to and for how long.  All areas not under contract should be secured.  The agreement should describe what they are using, what they have access to and under what conditions.  You should verify their insurance coverage by requesting a Certificate of Insurance and have the organization name you as an additional injured.  Many systems are charging outside groups for providing custodial services, which may provide some limited supervision depending on the understanding between the school system and the outside group.Top  

 

7. If our field gate is locked and someone jumps the fence and gets hurt who would be responsible?  Same thing if someone or an outside entity is having a party on our property and something happens who is responsible?​

MABE doesn’t provide coverage for Student Accidents or an outside party, unless there is negligence on the BOE’s part.  If you have provided an “Attractive Nuisance” you may be liable.  If the injured is an employee on duty, they are covered by Workers’ Compensation.  If a third party is using your facilities, it depends on why they were there, if there was an assumed invitation to use the facility, if there was a facility use agreement, and if there was a violation of a duty to act by either the BOE or the third party, or the individual.  If fields are accessible and routinely used by members of the general public, it could complicate the case.  Good clear signage, communication to the general public, secure fencing and consistent treatment of invited parties as well as violators would provide you the strongest case against being held liable.  In many cases the determination will be through the court system and the specific facts of the situation.Top

 

8. Could we put up no trespassing signs?

Public schools are often in flux regarding this.  They are community buildings that many feel they have a right to use.  You can post No Trespassing signs, especially if you are controlling a special area, such as a competitive ball field that is costly to maintain or could be vandalized, but a simple “No Trespassing” sign may be confusing and misdirected.  Schools allow and promote outside parties to trespass on their properties all the time since they are public facilities.    It would be more effective to post signs that specify under what conditions someone is permitted to use the grounds.  To simply post a “No Trespassing” sign, you are in essence allowing daily violations which will minimize their legitimacy, and would likely be difficult to support in a court of law.Top

 

9. Should we just leave these areas like the track fields unlocked?

This is a BOE decision.  This is where a Risk Management strategy would come into play.  Think about the risks associated with each option; identify all of the pros and cons and how they need to be weighed.  The outcome of this process will vary by facility, the local community, how the community is using the facilities, past loss experience, what risks there may be to allowing access, your policies on public use, etc.  MABE is very good at providing you coverage that you could not find on the commercial market.  MABE wants to promote local control and allow members to make these decisions.  MABE provides Risk Management professionals who can assist you with making these decisions.  If you’d like any assistance with performing risk assessments, please contact MABE’s Risk Management Officers.Top

 

10. Access and Use Policy?  If we cannot put up signs for no trespassing, what is the best way to deal with this issue?

This is a great exercise (goal) for a Risk Management Team or Safety Committee.  I’d select the areas in question, discuss the pros and cons, make a site visit if necessary, discuss the issues with the local administration to determine the impact, look at past losses, and make a decision based on the accumulation of facts.  When implementing such policy changes, it is often a good idea to select a specific site as a pilot to see how well it works before implementing such a policy system wide.  MABE’s Risk Management Officers are available to assist in such assessments.Top

 

11. Someone falls in a hole that is on school grounds and is injured.  Who is responsible?

If the injury is not serious, it is likely that the player would seek medical care through existing health coverage (normally through their parents, or employer if they have it).  If they have no health coverage or the injury is serious, it is likely that they or their parents will seek compensation from the BOE.  If the injured is a student and the parents had purchased Student Accident Coverage, there may be coverage for the student.  If the BOE purchased Field Trip coverage there may be first party medical payments if part of a covered field trip.  MABE does not provide coverage for Premises Medical Payments.

In either case, a claim should be filed as soon as possible.  The quicker a claim can get set up and an adjuster assigned, the better the outcome will be.  If the “someone” or their parents are unhappy with how the BOE is handling the injury, they will seek an attorney, and file a lawsuit claiming negligence.  If there was a “hole”, and it was determined that the school system was or should have been aware of the hole and was negligent in not filling the hole, the injury would be covered.  The better your supervision, inspection programs, maintenance, and records are, the better you will be able to protect yourself from negligence claims, and the better MABE will be able to defend your position.Top

  

 

12. Student Transportation?  Schools transporting students – what types of vehicles?

MSDE is very specific about the types of vehicles permitted to transport students, Type I or II school vehicles are used to transport students.  Other vehicles may be used as described in COMAR 11.19, Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) – School Vehicles and COMAR 13A.06.07, Student Transportation.  In general, vans, cars etc, are not to be used for transporting students.  Employees should not be transporting students in their personal vehicles.  Each county board shall arrange for the transportation of students to and from consolidated schools and provide and arrange for the transportation during the regular school year of each child with a disability.  Aside from these two requirements, it is up to the local school system’s discretion to determine what events and activities student transportation will be provided.  There are many situations where by law the BOE is not required to provide transportation.  We’ve covered this several times in several venues, and can be discussed with specific groups again if beneficial.Top

 

13. Student Transported by Others/Own Vehicle? Should schools restrict vehicle types if school is not providing the transportation?

If a student is selecting their own method of transportation and not taking advantage of the school bus, the BOE, should not specify what they can or cannot use. Doing so might imply the school had taken on this duty and be held liable for not adequately performing this duty.  If you feel a student/parent may not be using good judgment or may be violating a law, you can discuss the issue with them following the same policy and procedure applicable to similar situations.  There is a good movement afoot to promote “Safe Routes to School” which may be a useful resource – http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/program-tools/find-state-contacts/maryland .Top

 

14. When do students become our responsibility?  If they are walkers or car riders/drivers is it when they leave their home or when arrive on our property?

There is some grey here depending on the situation and your level of supervision.  Technically and with few exceptions, “self transporters”, e.g., students walking or driving to are not your responsibility until they arrive on school grounds.  They are the responsibility of the bus driver (and by extension, the BOE) when they step on the school bus.  Some systems provide crosswalk guards, so there may be potential liability if a guard is negligent in their actions.  Also, if you are aware of a dangerous situation (let’s say several assaults are reported by students in the woods on an adjacent lot), and you take no action to warn students or parents, or fail to notify police, and a student is injured as a result, the BOE had a duty to act, failed in that duty and could be named in a lawsuit.  The BOE does need to do their due diligence in selecting appropriate bus stops, providing and encouraging a means for students and parents to report abnormalities.  Ultimately, if a bad claim occurs, it is difficult to predict if a parent may assert a claim and the outcome would be determined by the court system.Top

 

15. Do we need to have windows in all interior doors within schools?

No – The Life Safety Code 101 (A.7.2.1.4.1) provides standards for when windows are required within doors.  There are many other reasons to have windows within doors form a liability standpoint.  MABE has had claims where someone is able to assert sexual misconduct or assault and the ability for the defendant to refute the assertions are limited because there was no glass within the door to the room where the alleged misconduct took place.  For these reasons, we recommend that privacy windows be placed within all but a limited number of doors.  In addition, staff should not be allowed to cover privacy glass unless done so during lock down situations.  Appropriately addressing this issue requires training and an understanding by staff as to why they should not place themselves in a private one on one situation with a minor or subordinate.  This can be exacerbated if the two parties are of the opposite sex.

For exterior doors there are good reasons from a security standpoint to minimize the ability of persons outside the building to be able to see into the school.  Peep holes are good practice and can be used before opening an exterior door to an outside. Top

 

16. Does the Pool cover students who are performing community service hours in the community, i.e., not on school property?

Under covered persons in the Casualty Scope of Coverage, students are only covered in very specific circumstances.  You ask if the Pool covers students performing community service hours.  If the community service hours are part of the student service graduation requirement, yes they are covered.  And, students performing the student service graduation requirement are covered wherever they may be performing the community service, not just on school property.  Also yes, Pool coverage is third party liability coverage. The student is covered when their negligence causes damage or injury to a third party; so the Pool will handle the claim asserted by the injured third party against the student. The student does not have first party medical coverage through the Pool. Top 

17. A teacher would like to bring in and fly his drone for the students.  Is this o.k. from a liability stand point?

The Pool’s position is that drones should be used for educational purposes and registered and operated within all Federal, State and local regulations.

Pool coverage follows that position and this is what we cover: 

2) The following aircraft while being operated or used for educational purposes, in a Member Board’s activities, or at events sponsored or approved by a Member Board:

(a)  Model or hobby aircraft; or

(b)  Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles that weigh less than fifty-five (55) pounds and are registered with and being operated in compliance with regulations issued by the United States Government or other governing authority;

So the Pool would cover a drone owned by another party provided it was used for an educational purpose, with your approval and that the drone complied with all regulations. Top