Should schools be held liable for your child's safety?

UPLAND, Ind. - Should schools be held liable for your child's safety?

That's the question that was asked Wednesday in a hearing before the Indiana Court of Appeals linked to the 2011 shooting inside Martinsville West Middle School that left two students injured.

Michael Phelps, who was 16 years old at the time, pleaded guilty to attempted murder charges involving classmate Chance Jackson. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jackson and another injured student claiming that the school district did not do enough to protect them.

The case moved to the Court of Appeals when the trial court denied a motion by the school district to have the case dismissed.

School District Attorney Tony Overholt made the district's argument.

"Anyone can always Monday-morning quarterback and say that they could have done more," Overholt said.

The victims' attorney, Ian Thompson, said Phelps walked into the school with a gun without any resistance and that the school's security plan was not adequate.

"We're not challenging the number of staff that were there. We're not challenging that there should have been metal detectors or security cameras.  That's not our argument. Our argument is that the way the plan is carried out. The failure of the staff members who specifically knew that Phelps was, for lack of a better word, public enemy No. 1. This kid had threatened to blow up the school three weeks before this incident," Thompson said.

The three-judge panel sharply questioned the attorneys who had 20 minutes to make their arguments. There is no timetable for the judges to make a ruling.

There have been similar lawsuits in other parts of the country where shootings have taken place. The rulings in those cases have varied.
 

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