By Jamie Lake

About the Article

Schools across the nation have recognized the benefits of senior citizen volunteerism. In the following note, Jamie Lake explores the advantages to senior volunteering, the various roles a senior may play in the school setting, and the myriad of programs a school may institute to avoid legal liability. Liability with respect to school volunteer programs may arise when a volunteer is harmed while performing his or her duties, or if a third party is harmed at the hands of a volunteer. Accordingly, Ms. Lake asserts that school boards may face liability under the legal principals of direct liability, vicarious liability, and negligent hiring. After fully analyzing the implications of school liability under each legal theory and additional public policy rationales, Ms. Lake further contends that schools have a responsibility to screen, train, and supervise senior volunteers to ensure the safety of the school population and the quality of participants. Commonly held myths regarding the cost, difficulty, and deterrent effect of screening senior volunteers are refuted, and the significance of establishing and following screening procedures is emphasized. Ms. Lake concludes by stressing the necessity of safe school environments and further advocates learning through intergenerational contact.

About the Author

Jamie Lake is a member of the University of Illinois College of Law class of 2001 and of The Elder Law Journal, serving as Executive Administrative Editor during the 2000–01 academic year.

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The Elder Law Journal

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