The Surrey School District has been found 75 per cent liable for injuries suffered six years ago by a Peace Arch Elementary student who fell from the school’s roof.
In rendering the decision Jan. 24 – which was posted online Friday – Judge Neena Sharma cited a failure by the district to take action to prevent children from accessing the building’s roof via trees.
“I conclude it was foreseeable that trees close to the school might be used to access the roof,” Sharma found. “It is simple common sense that if a child can get onto a roof, it is reasonably foreseeable that the child might fall off that roof and get badly injured.”
The injured Grade 7 student was one of two who had climbed onto the White Rock school’s roof via a cherry tree after classes on March 4, 2008.
The district had argued it could not have anticipated such an event.
According to Sharma’s reasons for judgment, the student, in Grade 7 at the time, fell during efforts to get down, which followed a yelled order by the principal to do so (Sharma found the principal’s conduct did not contribute to the student’s injuries).
The boy fell approximately 20 feet into a gated cement stairwell, suffering injuries that kept him in hospital for two weeks.
While Sharma found that the students’ choice to get off the roof was “motivated primarily, if not exclusively, by the desire not to get caught and thus into trouble,” she said she was not persuaded by submissions the defendant could not have anticipated such an event.
“…this problem was known to the principal, teachers, maintenance workers, students and their families and others. Despite this, there is no evidence that the defendant required anyone to turn their mind to whether any trees were growing too close to the school roof and providing the access that allowed for this problem to persist.”