• Special parental authority of school, administrators and teachers over students

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My child was rushed to the hospital because some acid had spilled on her arms during a laboratory experiment in school. According to her classmates, their teacher-in-charge went outside when the accident happened. Can we hold the school or the teacher liable for the expenses incurred in the medication of my child?
    Sincerely yours,
    Zheena

    Dear Zheena,
    The law that addresses your situation is Article 218 of the Family Code of the Philippines and Article 2180 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which state:

    “Art. 218. The school, its administrators and teachers, or the individual, entity or institution engaged in child care shall have special parental authority and responsibility over the minor child while under their supervision, instruction or custody.

    “Authority and responsibility shall apply to all authorized activities whether inside or outside the premises of the school, entity or institution.

    x x x
    “Article 2180. The obligation imposed under Article 2176 is demandable not only for one’s own acts or omissions, but also for those of persons for whom one is responsible.

    x x x
    “Lastly, teachers or heads of establishing of arts and trades shall be liable for damages caused by their pupils and students or apprentices, so long as they remain in their custody.

    “The responsibility treated of in this article shall cease when the persons herein mentioned prove that they observed all the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage.”
    According to the provisions stated above, the school administrators and the teacher are liable for any damages even if the same is caused by an accident. Hence, in your situation, it is clear that the administrators of the school and the teacher-in-charge are accountable for the injury suffered by your child, since they failed to observe all the required diligence of a good father of a family to prevent damage.

    Related to this is the case of St. Joseph College v. Jason Miranda (G.R. No. 182353, July 29, 2010), penned by the former Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, which elucidates the liability of the school, its administrators and teachers, in case of damages or injury caused to students, viz:

    “Petitioner school did not take affirmative steps to avert damage and injury to its students although it had full information on the nature of dangerous science experiments conducted by the students during class;

    1. Petitioner school did not take affirmative steps to avert damage and injury to its students although it had full information on the nature of dangerous science experiments conducted by the students during class;

    2. Petitioner school did not install safety measures to protect the students who conduct experiments in class;

    3. Petitioner school did not provide protective gears and devices, specifically goggles, to shield students from expected risks and dangers; and

    4. Petitioner Tabugo was not inside the classroom the whole time her class conducted the experiment, specifically, when the accident involving Jayson occurred. In any event, the size of the class, fifty (50) students, conducting the experiment is difficult to monitor.” (Emphasis supplied)

    Hence, the school administrators and the teacher of your child are liable considering the fact that the latter went out during the time when the laboratory experiment was ongoing.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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