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Public school board, teacher face $1.25 million lawsuit

The complainants in the suit claim a four-year-old girl suffered serious injuries when she tripped over another student's legs while returning a book in class
20210910 UGDSB admin building RV
Upper Grand District School Board.

An in-classroom injury is at the heart of a $1.25 million lawsuit filed against the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) and a teacher at a south end elementary school.

In a statement of claim filed earlier this month in Guelph, a Puslinch woman and her daughter allege the girl tripped over another student’s legs last November and struck their head on the edge of a table.

The girl was four years old at the time of the incident.

“She has been left with permanent and visible scarring which causes severe embarrassment and upset,” they say in their lawsuit. “(The student’s) enjoyment of life has been irretrievably lessened, and her ability to progress in school and in her studies, to participate in physical and social activities, to eventually earn a livelihood and to compete in the workforce has been and remains permanently impaired.”

None of the allegations have been tested or proven in court. No statement of defence has been filed by the school board or teacher at this time.

“Student safety is always our top priority,” commented Heather Loney, UGDSB spokesperson. “Schools have protocols in place to respond to any injury to staff or students. All injuries are reviewed to determine if preventative measures can be put in place.”

The family claims in the lawsuit that the teacher asked the girl to return a book to the front of the classroom on Nov. 28. While doing so, the girl tripped and fell, “violently hitting her into the sharp edge of a wooden table.”

The complainants say the child suffered a traumatic brain injury and facial injuries, along with strained muscles and ligaments throughout her body and as a result, she continues to suffer from headaches, post-traumatic stress and behavioural issues. She has difficulty concentrating, experiences anxiety, depression and fatigue, as well as memory loss.

It’s alleged negligence is to blame. 

"The school board and teacher failed to take reasonable care to ensure people could safely move around the classroom; they didn’t remove or otherwise protect people from sharp objects; and they “permitted (the classroom) to fall into a state of disrepair.

“She is unable to participate in their usual recreational, personal care, social, household, athletic, and academic activities to the extent to which she participated in such activities prior to the incident,” the lawsuit reads.

“(The girl’s mother) provided and/or paid for caregiving, housekeeping, medical, rehabilitation and other services … and consequently have lost income.”

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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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