Vol. 3 No. 6
Q: I have a good idea what type of claims employees can bring against schools (for wrongful termination, harassment, and the like). What type of claims do you see parents bringing against schools? Do Directors & Officers (D&O) policies generally cover these claims?
A: The most common claims that we see parents bringing relative to D&O policies are discrimination, education, and safety issues. To break this down in more detail:
Discrimination: This can include failing to accept a student into the school for allegedly discriminatory reasons (such as their race, ethnicity, disability, etc.), or wrongfully disciplining the student for similar reasons.
Education: This is a "hot" area of claims right now. It includes failure to educate (i.e., the school didn't provide the type of education for the student that it promised in its marketing and enrollment materials) as well as failure to promote (i.e., the student's future career was harmed by not being promoted from one grade to the next).
Safety: A primary reason that parents send their children to private schools is the school's perceived safety (both physical and moral). Claims in this very subjective area include failure to provide a safe environment from threats (bullying) and/or infliction of actual injury (from misconduct of other students, faculty, staff, or others on campus), up to grave injury or even death.
Due to the gravity of each of these risks, it is vital that every school review its D&O coverages on an annual basis, working with its broker to ensure that coverage is adequate for the school's size, scope, and level of risk.