This case, which involves a bus driver who was accused of fondling students, addresses questions about the duty of school officials to report suspected sexual contact.
Some background: John Lynch was employed by the District as a bus driver from 1992 until 1998. In February 1998, a Juneau County Sheriff's deputy told a school psychologist for the District that his stepdaughter had told him that Lynch had touched the private parts of two elementary school girls who rode Lynch's bus. The psychologist and deputy reported these allegations to the District elementary principal, who directed the psychologist to investigate the allegations.
In March 1998, the psychologist provided a written report about her investigation to the principal and the District administrator. She also reported the allegations of abuse to the Juneau County Department of Human Services. The department placed a surveillance camera on Lynch's bus the following day and arrested him a few days later. Lynch was charged in Juneau County Circuit Court with 18 counts of illicit sexual conduct. He stopped driving for the District and he died before his criminal trial took place.
The circuit court concluded the district was not vicariously liable because Lynch was not acting within the scope of employment and that the district was immune from liability.
The Court of Appeals affirmed [in an unpublished opinion], concluding that the plaintiffs failed to show the Necedah Area School District breached a ministerial duty under § 48.981, Stats., to report suspected abuse. The Court of Appeals also concluded that the facts of record did not support a finding of a known and present danger.
The Supreme Court has been asked to determine whether the legislature, in enacting Wis. Stat. § 893.80(4), intended to limit immunity to matters involving governmental legislation or judicial discretion. More specicially in this case, if immunity is available given the circumstances. From Adams County.
(via The Wheeler Report)