The parents of a middle schooler who broke into a classroom after school hours and trashed the room are being sued for $19,000 by the school district, according to the Oregonian.
The student was 12 years old at the time and had been disciplined a dozen times in the months leading up to the incident, which took place in June 2016. The suit filed by Salem-Keizer Public Schools alleges the boy’s parents are responsible for the damage because they did not “exercise reasonable control” over his behavior.
The suit alleges the boy and another child were wandering the school during a volleyball tournament in search of unlocked classrooms. They gained entry to a science classroom and poured chemicals like hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, iodine and food coloring all over. The cost of the vandalism was $19,293.
Oregon law allows parents to be sued for the action of their children: “The parent or parents of an unemancipated minor child shall be liable for actual damages to person or property caused by any tort intentionally or recklessly committed by such child.” But the statue limits damages to $7,500, meaning the school may not be able to collect the full amount for which it’s suing the parents.
The boy’s father told the Oregonian his son had been disciplined at home and at school, and he didn’t want to make excuses for the misbehavior. But he said other children that had been present should also be responsible for paying for the damages.
The school district told KATU News that because the damage took place outside school hours, the student was not under school supervision at the time of the incident.
“The science classroom was appropriately secure, and we believe that the student intentionally caused the vandalism. We repaired the damage as efficiently as possible and tried to work with the family to reimburse that cost,” the district said in a statement. “Only after those efforts were not successful did we consider litigation. The district only intends to hold those responsible accountable, but we will do so professionally and recognizing that this is a family in our community and who we serve.”