Liability Concerns Take Center Stage in School Reopenings

California lawmakers wrapped up the legislative session on August 31. Among the unfinished business they left was a bill that shields some schools from legal liability in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s a problem,” Sonoma County Superintendent of Education Steve Herrington told The Press Democrat. “It’s a big problem.” 

Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) introduced AB 1384. It protects only those schools that follow all state and local health and safety guidelines.

Without protections in place, Tatia Davenport, CEO of the California Association of School Business Officials, said some people are already eyeing litigation against school districts.

AB 1384 was supported by more than 200 associations and school districts. But the bill was opposed by the Consumer Attorneys of California, the ACLU, California Employment Lawyers Association, Consumer Federation of California and the California Nurses Association. Some of the the groups felt the protections would encourage schools to reopen before it was safe to do so.