When parents send their children to school, they expect the school to supervise and care for the children. They do not anticipate a child being seriously injured at school. Parents may think the school has a heightened duty of care toward the students in its care, but that may not be the case, as recently found by the Washington Supreme Court.
According to the Court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in her high school woodshop class while using a radial table saw. She had been using a push stick to guide a board through the saw, but the board got stuck and she tried to dislodge it with her hand. Her thumb was severely cut, ultimately resulting in a partial amputation.
The teacher was supervising students outside the room and could not see the table saw when the plaintiff was injured. The teacher testified how he trained the students to use the table saw. He showed the students how to cut, and required them to make cuts under his supervision until they did it correctly. The students were required to take a written test. They were also required to make about 40 to 80 cuts under the teacher’s supervision. The plaintiff had made at least 60 cuts under the teacher’s supervision before being allowed to use the saw independently.