Risks That Keep You Up at Night

Vol. 3 No. 7

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Schools, like all organizations, are at risk of lawsuits and claims—even when all protocols are followed and proper insurance is carried.

In a recent edition of Net Assets, the article Risk, Claims, And What Keeps You Up At Night (NBOA members can access the entire issue in the membership area of the NBOA site), mentioned that assaults, athletic injuries, slips and falls, and employment discrimination claims are both the most common and most costly risks that private schools face.

Fretting about the possibilities or losing sleep is not going to pardon your school from risks. Worry is not a solution. But, not being concerned, protected, or practiced with risk management protocol until faced with a claim will guarantee to worsen the situation worse. Strive to be proactive, not reactive.

Business Officers are often tasked with the responsibilities of risk management in private schools. This can be troubling because research shows that more often than not Business Officers are not trained in proper risk management or human resources practices. Instead, they fall haphazardly into these roles and duties. Only 5% of schools participating in the NBOA research study reported having a dedicated risk management employee. The other 95% reported that the responsibility was part of the Business Officer’s role.

By looking at the recent research published in Net Assets, we can gain clearer insight into the typical claims private-independent schools face, and with that, improve upon our risk management decision-making. This study was conducted from October to December 2012, polling 1,273 independent school Business Officers. Of those participating in the study, 78% work for day schools, and 22% work for boarding schools.

President of NBOA Jeff Shields, commented on the study, saying the research identified two major areas of concern. First, independent schools need to raise awareness of risk management among School Heads, Boards, and other administrators. Second, Business Officers and school leaders must recognize and focus on the four main areas of risk the study identified—athletics, assaults (sexual and non-sexual), slips and falls, and employment practices.

Changing behaviors can reduce risks. “Knowledge is power,” said Sheilds. “The areas of concern among all Business Officers identified through the research provide a prioritization for schools to benchmark themselves and then allocate the financial resources needed for the expertise to mitigate their school’s exposure in the future.”

Additional ISM resources of interest
ISM Monthly Update for Risk Managers Vol. 3 No. 1 Building a Risk Management Team (RMT)
Private School News Vol. 10 No. 7 School Shooting Lawsuit Raises Risk Management Concerns
ISM Monthly Update for Risk Managers Vol. 3 No. 3 Four-Team Approach for Creating and Maintaining a Crisis Plan
ISM Monthly Update for Risk Managers Vol. 3 No. 1 Crisis Planning–It’s Your Job

Additional ISM resources of interest for Gold Consortium members
Risk Management: Crisis Management (e-Book) (Free for Consortium Gold members)
I&P Vol. 38 No. 4 Your School’s Summer Program and Risk Management

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