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Facts: The “appellant” was Gregory Myers, a 15 year old student of grade XI in Erindale Secondary School. He was seriously injured during his gymnastic class. His gymnastic teacher in charge Mr. Walter Jowett, who was qualified, proficient and specialized in physical education, allowed him and spotter to practice in an exercise room with no supervision. Myers had never done the straddle dismount earlier and while attempting a new maneuver on the gymnastic rings, he did not inform his spotter that he was going to do anything further from his routine’s practice. As Myers dismounted, his spotter moved away thinking, he was finished. Myers fell down very badly and broke his neck, quadriplegic.
Issue: Myers and his father appealed against the Peel Country Board of Education and his teacher Mr. Jowett for damages for negligence. In the appeal, they made an argument that the teacher was negligent and responsible for Myer’s injuries. They further made argument that for the physical education course, school authorities have not met the protective standards for the students. School safety and discipline must be a prime concern for school board and teachers in the absence of parents.
Holding: In June 1978, Ontario Civil Court determined the allegations imposed by Myers and his father And found that his teacher was negligent and therefore, liable for 80% of Myer’s injuries while the student himself was responsible for only 20% of injuries. The court gave judgment in favor of Myers and assessed $2,656. 30 for the damages. The case was then referred to the Ontario Court of Appeal for determination. Ontario Court of Appeal gave the judgment against Ontario Civil Court and concluded that teacher was not responsible for the accident and it was inevitable even in the presence of supervision. The decision on assessed damages awarded to Myers was also reversed. In June 1981, the Myers and his father filed an appeal of the Ontario Court of Appeal decision with the Supreme Court of Canada and the proceedings were as follows:
For instance: The presence of parents at home made a huge impact on their children and mere presence of the police officer has impeccable impact on the surroundings.
My concern is: Should any physical education teacher have the right to play with the life of students? I am strongly of the view that in the absence of parents, the teacher must take the responsibility for the safety of his students. I feel that, every school should follow the policies that provide clarity to teachers with accountability issues. Adequate safety measures (equipment, mats and spotters) should be taken into consideration while performing difficult activities by students. For long term professional development, teachers must accept the responsibility of safety procedures involved in their courses and proper training should be given to the students to develop their potential.
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