10/04/05 — Schools will look again at liability release form

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Schools will look again at liability release form

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 4, 2005 1:52 PM

Wayne County's Board of Education adopted a district field trip policy Monday night, but school officials are going to take another look at a liability release and a proof of insurance requirement that have some parents concerned about signing permission slips.

The policy was among several under consideration by the board, based on updates being made by its state counterpart. The policies were presented to the school board at its September meeting, with members expected to review them and then cast their votes at the October session.

Some of the language in the liability release prompted a number of calls from parents to board members and the administrative offices. By Friday, officials announced the possibility that the matter would be reconsidered.

The liability release, designed to protect the school system from blame in case anything happened to a student while on a field trip with a school group, was too restrictive, some parents said.

The disclaimer, capitalized as in the release, stated that by signing the permission slip, the parent would "hereby RELEASE AND DISCHARGE FOREVER, Wayne County Public Schools and the Wayne County Board of Education and all of its officers, agents, and employees" should anything happen to the child while on a school-related trip.

During a meeting Monday afternoon prior to the regular board session, Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for instruction told members of the policy and personnel committee Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor recommended the policy itself be accepted, but that the liability release be placed under review by school principals.

"The forms are going to be reviewed again, and we'll bring these back to you," she said.

Also being studied is the request for proof of health and/or hospitalization insurance from parents. While officials maintained last week that the school system will not allow financial matters to keep students from participating in school functions with their peers, many parents have expressed concern that the policy is discriminatory and penalizes a child whose parents might not be able to afford insurance.

The board approved the basic field trip policy Monday night, with no discussion about the controversial aspects of the release.

The sole comment came from Rick Pridgen late in the meeting. He said he was "very thankful that we're taking a second look at the field trip policy."

Taylor said the board, its attorney and administrators in the school system will look at all the regulations and will hopefully make a decision soon. In the meantime, he said, the liability release and the request for proof of insurance are not in effect.