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The High School Fight

A fight breaks out at a high school. Can teachers at the school and the school board be held liable? It depends on whether the fight could have been anticipated and on what supervision protocols were in place.

In Tilli v. Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, two students started a “consent fight”. The fight stopped being consensual when the defendant student used grossly excessive force.

Justice Arrell found the defendant student to be 60% liable and the plaintiff student to be 40% liable for provoking the fight.

No liability was found on the teachers and the school board. The students did not have a predisposition to violence or animosity towards each other. They were aware of a zero tolerance policy on fighting.

The school had a supervision policy. There were surveillance cameras and numerous teachers walking the hallways in between classes.

The standard of care is that of a careful and prudent parent. Justice Arrell noted that a 15 year old teenager is not supervised constantly by a careful parent.

Justice Arrell stated: “only by having a teacher posted in the exact area of this incident, at the very time it occurred, could the school perhaps have prevented the fight from occurring. Such a standard is not reasonable and certainly not one any reasonable and prudent parent would be expected to adhere to with its own teenage child”.