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Is Participation worth Permission?

As the school year begins, field trips and after school activities, including sports, are prevalent. Cities and towns will require, in most instances, the signing of a permission slip, which releases a school department from liability for negligence. Gross negligence cannot be waived or released but it is a much harder doctrine to meet should your child be seriously hurt in an accident.

The highest court of Massachusetts has unequivocally upheld the use of releases for activities in citing the public policy for making those activities readily available to children. See Sharon v. City of Newton, 437 Mass. 99 (2002) involving a cheerleader who had serious arm injuries but was barred from suing for negligence because of the parents’ signing “an exculpatory release”.

In the cost-benefit analysis and in our optimism, parents may feel that it is worth signing the release so that one’s child can participate. I understand that. I merely seek to point out that there are consequences which can follow in the unfortunate event of an accident.

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