Sick School Victims Compensation Program v. April 3, 2006
The illnesses, injures and disabilities acquired by students and teachers in poorly managed school facilities and school renovation projects have a devastating impact on the victims and their families.
All too often, new or exacerbated medical illness and psychological stress and trauma are accompanied by mounting medical bills, lost school days, extensive educational deficits from lack of instruction, lost wages and lost jobs, and other escalating losses and expenses. No one should suffer a severe financial setback because of their own or their child’s acquired or exacerbated illness acquired at school.
As Attorney General, I am deeply committed to expanding services to students and teachers who are victims of unhealthy conditions and hazards such as mold, pesticides, asbestos, toxic school supplies in science, art or technical-vocational education courses, or toxic materials used for cleaning and during renovation projects in poorly managed school facilities and programs.
The Victim Compensation Program uses funds obtained from criminal offenders* to provide financial assistance, up to $25,000 per victim, to help victims pay for uninsured medical, dental, and counseling expenses, funeral and burial costs, and lost income, and to provide compensatory education, special education services and personalized student educational progress and safety plans, and other educational, medical and employment services to affected persons and their families.
The criminal offender’s contribution to each victim’s personal compensation entitlement is increased to $10,000 for every day that each local or state health officer or school official was aware of a hazard or unhealthy condition or activity and did not act immediately to get the student or teacher out of harm’s way, and take action to stop, correct or mitigate the hazardous condition or activity. (Possible basis for civil or criminal action: Deliberate indifference to the safety of a child, breach of duty to care, breach of duty to warn, negligence, retaliation, harassment, violation of mandated reporter requirement when school official is aware of hazards putting student at risk of harm, violation of school nurse license, etc.)
Each criminal offender’s contribution to each victim’s personal compensation entitlement is increased to $15,000 if the student or teacher had a documented chronic health condition and school officials did not implement necessary precautions and protective actions, and/or the school had no system or procedure, as required by law, to identify vulnerable health-impaired students for whom the school administrators are required to provide a safe and usable environment, and/or who had no "complaint system" as required by law, and/or if the school official created or ignored the hazard and unhealthy conditions or activities, and therefore violated the victim’s right to access safe and usable educational facilities. (Discrimination under Section 504/ADA)
My dedicated staff can also assist you in understanding your rights as a crime victim and in ensuring that you get all the services and assistance you need.
Who is eligible for compensation?
- Victims who are/have been occupants of any Massachusetts school facility where there are health hazards and safety violations.
- Dependents and family members of victims.
- Any person responsible for the care and support of a victim.
The hazard, health threat and/or health condition must have been reported to the school principal, school nurse, or town health officer.
There was no official response and/or the official response was ineffective in stopping or correcting the harmful condition or activity and did not protec the victim from harm.
The victim and/or his/her family must cooperate with law enforcement officials in the investigation.
Your out-of-pocket expenses must exceed $100 unless you are under age 16 or over age 60.
What expenses are covered? You may be reimbursed for:
- Medical diagnosis, treatment, equipment, supplies and medication.
- Counseling expenses.
- Burial costs.
- Lost wages.
- Loss of financial support for dependents.
- Homemaker expenses.
- Educational services based on individually-determined need.
S. 504/ADA Any individual who is in a position of authority in a school district, in a state or local education department, or state or local health department, and in a municipality, who create or ignore hazards or unhealthy conditions violates the civil rights of victim(s) and are therefore subject to the personal penalties in the law.
- School Committee Members
- Town Boards or Councils
- MA Department of Education
- Department of Public Health
- Local Health Department
- Insurance Companies Pool, Risk Managers Pool
- Law Firms
- Building Contractors
- Pest Control Companies