In 2007, the Texas Legislature beefed up safety requirements in connection with extracurricular activities. Section 33.201, et. seq. of the Education Code spell out a variety of requirements, including such things as adequate hydration for athletes during practices and games. I remember in my annual “Back to School” tour for that year predicting that these safety standards would be cited in future cases alleging that the school district, or the coaches, should be held liable for a student injury.
So let me introduce you to the case of Ripple v. Marble Falls ISD. Blake Ripple alleged that he suffered injuries playing football in high school. In the suit, he alleged that the district failed to identify him as a student with a disability under Section 504, and failed to “keep him safe from harm and failed to provide him an environment that was not injurious to his physical well-being.”
The school district prevailed in the lawsuit. The coaches never put Blake back into the game when he was hurt, they had a doctor’s clearance for him each year, and they complied with all of the safety requirements. The legal wrangling is more complicated than we have time for here, but it’s worth pointing out that one of the allegations was that the student became severely dehydrated after an August practice. Fortunately for the school district, the coaches were able to produce evidence that they provided water breaks and otherwise complied with the safety requirements.
So today’s Dawg just offers a reminder about these things. Make sure your coaches review the requirements of Subchapter F of Chapter 33 of the Texas Education Code, which begins with Section 33.201. Full compliance will be important in the event of future litigation. More important than that, full compliance will go a long way toward maintaining safe conditions for all of the kids.
The case is Ripple v. Marble Falls ISD, decided by the federal court for the Western District of Texas on March 27, 2015.
DAWG BONE: KEEP THAT WATER FLOWING DURING TWO-A-DAYS!