This case involves a student being asked to move furniture, resulting in injury. During the second week of summer school in an urban high school, a math teacher was told to move his remedial class to another room by noon that day. The school’s janitorial and maintenance staff was scheduled to clean and repaint each room for the summer, and the class had to be relocated to an empty, freshly-painted room. The students spent the morning carrying all of the small desks, shelves, and books into the new room. After the rest of the classroom was moved, the teacher asked three of the thirteen-year-old male students to help him move the large steel and wood teacher’s desk, which was approximately 185 pounds. While the desk was lifted and tilted sideways to fit through the door, one of the students lost his grip on the desk and dropped it on his foot. Subsequently the desk crushed his foot and the student required three surgeries to repair it.
Expert Witness Response
These students should absolutely not have been involved in this type of physical labor. It is considered an unnecessary danger to ask a young student to move a desk that was that weight and taking hours out of their designated education time. The fact that this took place in a remedial summer school class makes this even worse, since these students who are already struggling in school are being employed and distracted in a place that should be a haven for their education. In my opinion, this is an administrative slip-up; the school should have arranged for the hired staff to move items between the rooms. Also, the teacher should have been given adequate time to prepare for the relocation, giving him a chance to find insured school staff for the job. The class could have moved to a furnished room while maintenance staff did the heavy lifting. There are so many ways that this could have been dealt with appropriately by the administration and there is no reason for students to be put in a position in which they need to physically exert themselves to the extent seen in this case. I have twenty-seven years of experience in the education field, with sixteen years teaching, and eleven years in administrative duties.
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