RE: Determination of Whether the Bridge School Owed Al-Fulani, its student, a Duty of Care
Kahlil Al-Fulani (“Al-Fulani”) is a 20-year-old Lebanese-American student who currently attends the Bridge School. On September 21, 2001 Lou Gaines (“Gaines”), a fellow student, assaulted Al-Fulani in an unsupervised school lounge. This memorandum addresses whether the Bridge School owed a duty of care to prevent Gaines’s assault on Al-Fulani. A court will likely conclude that the Bridge School owed a duty of care to Al-Fulani because of its special relationship with him and because the harm was foreseeable.
II. Question Presented
Whether the Bridge School owed Al-Fulani a ...view middle of the document...
The Bridge School supervises and regulates students’ daily tasks including when and where they eat, study, and sleep. Further, Al-Fulani’s assault was foreseeable because the school knew the current climate of hostility towards Arab-American students across the nation and within its own school after the World Trade Center attack. Most importantly, the school knew that Gaines had targeted Al-Fulani because of his Arab nationality and had begun to threaten, harass, and push him. Thus, the Bridge School owed Al-Fulani a duty of care given their special relationship and knowledge of the foreseeable harm to him.
IV. Statement of Facts
Kahlil Al-Fulani (“Al-Fulani”) is a 20 year-old Lebanese-American student who currently attends the Bridge School, a two-year program designed for students who have dropped out of high school. The Bridge School requires that students live in on-campus dormitories, eat meals together, attend daily motivational speeches, and participate in after class military-type training, character building, and team sports.
The student body began to exhibit signs of hostility towards Arab-Americans after the World Trade Center attack. Students began to graffiti school bathrooms with statements including “kill the Arabs” and Lou Gaines (“Gaines”), a fellow student, started to harass and threaten Al-Fulani. On one occasion Gaines pushed Al-Fulani and called him a “little Bin Laden.” On a second occasion, Gaines told him that he “better run” in order to avoid a physical confrontation.
Al-Fulani reported these incidents to Dr. Bridge and expressed his fear that he would soon be harmed like other Arab-American students had been in high schools across the nation after the World Trade Center attack. Dr. Bridge told Al-Fulani that the hostility directed towards Arabs was to be expected after the attack and that he should develop a “thicker skin.”
Four days later on September 21, 2001 Gaines slammed Al-Fulani into a soda machine and the two students began to fight in an unsupervised student lounge. Two other students pinned Al-Fulani down and Gaines began to punch him in the face. Al-Fulani suffered a broken nose and two broken ribs as a result of the assault.
A court will likely conclude that the Bridge School owed Al-Fulani a duty of care. The law imposes a duty of care on schools when (1) a special relationship exists between the school and student, and (2) the harm is foreseeable. Leger v. Stockton Unified Sch. Dist., 202 Cal. App. 3d 1448, 1453-54 (1988).
1. Special Relationship
A special relationship between a school and student is created when a school assumes the responsibility to supervise the conduct and control the environment of students, who do not do behave in ways associated with full maturity. Id.
In Leger, the court held that a high school district owed a duty of care to a student who was attacked in an unsupervised restroom because of the school’s special relationship...