Court of Appeal:
Third District Rejects Contention That Duty Exists to Review Surveillance Videos, Alarm Logs to Determine If Teachers Are Spending an Undue Amount of Time in Classrooms After-Hours, Raising Red Flags
By a MetNews Staff Writer
School officials are not obliged to engage in routine monitoring of surveillance videos or logs of codes being entered to deactivate the nighttime alarm system, the Third District Court of Appeal held yesterday in rejecting the contention that a teacher’s after-hours classroom rendezvouses with a 17-year-old student would have been detected by virtue of his presence at late hours if there had been watchfulness.
Acting Presiding Justice Louis Mauro authored the opinion which was not certified for publication. It affirms a summary judgment granted by Shasta Superior Court Judge Stephen Baker in favor of the Anderson Union High School District and others who were sued by the former student, denominated “Jane Doe.”
Defendant Carol Germano, the principal at Anderson New Technology High School where teacher Daniel Schafer had sexual encounters with Doe, acknowledged that she did not review the surveillance recordings or alarm logs to spot indications of possible improper relationships between teachers and students. A former principal, David Jackson, asserted in a declaration that Germano “was not simply negligent in performing her duty to monitor teachers for the protection of her students, she completely abandoned that task.”
Supreme Court Decision
Rejecting Doe’s position, Mauro pointed to a footnote in the California Supreme Court’s 1989 decision in John R. v. Oakland Unified School District. The majority held in that case that a school district was not vicariously liable to a student based on a sexual assault by a teacher.
In a footnote, retired Justice John Arguelles, sitting on assignment, responded to a concurring and dissenting opinion by Justice Marcus Kaufman (now deceased), saying:
“We must…observe that the opinion seems to reflect an unduly pessimistic view of human nature, for, if we read the opinion correctly, it seems to suggest that sexual misconduct is foreseeable any time a minor and an adult are alone in a room together, at least if not constrained by the possibility of being interrupted….Given the facts of this case and the benefit of hindsight, all would have to agree that the prospect of such misconduct is conceivable, but that is a far cry from foreseeability, even under the broad meaning that concept is given in the respondeat superior context.”
“Here, the District did not know that Schafer would have sex with Doe, and it had no information that would support a conclusion that it should have known. On this record, the District did not have a duty to review alarm data and video recordings to constantly monitor all teachers, students, and campus visitors, nor did it have such a duty specifically with regard to Schafer and Doe. To impose such a duty on this record would be unreasonable.”
The case is Doe v. Anderson Union High School District, C093099.
Schafer was charged in 2018 with 18 felony sex-crime counts. He was convicted on six counts of sexual abuse of a minor and sentenced to six years and months in prison.
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