CHARDON -- Five Chardon Local School District administrators have been found not liable in the 2012 shooting at Chardon High School that left three students dead and a fourth paralyzed.
The victims’ families had filed a lawsuit claiming wrongful death, negligence and recklessness, malice, and willful and wanton misconduct, among other complaints.
On Thursday, Judge John O’Donnell released a 15-page judgment finding the administrators not liable.
The shooting took place on Feb. 27, 2012 in the school cafeteria as students waited for buses. The lawsuit claimed administrators could have kept that from happening.
The plaintiffs contend that local police had been called to the school “500-600 times per year” and the employees “ignored safety recommendations which could have deterred, if not prevented” the gunman “from opening fire in the cafeteria.”
Those employees, however, pointed to state-mandated emergency drills, an active shooter drill, and claimed local law enforcement was never critical of the safety or security at the school in the past.
They also maintained “they had no knowledge of any behavioral issues or violent propensities” involving gunman T.J. Lane and that he entered an alternative school in the district “not due to academic or behavioral issues but based on a request from his grandparents.”
He was even on track to graduate early.
In his ruling, Judge O’Donnell claims the families failed to demonstrate the school employees’ actions “were undertaken with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in wanton or reckless manner” and agreed that they “did enact numerous security and safety measures prior to the shooting” which included surveillance cameras in buses and buildings, drills and training, and a regular review of safety measures.
In 2014, earlier complaints by the families against Chardon Schools, Chardon’s School Board and Lake Academy, the alternative school where the gunman went, were dismissed.