What to do if my son was playing with a classmate at school and accidentally broke his glasses?

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What to do if my son was playing with a classmate at school and accidentally broke his glasses?

He came up behind his friend and touched the side of his face. His friend’s glasses had tape holding together the frame. When my son touched his face he accidentally and slightly touched the glasses with the tip off his finger. The side of the glasses that fit onto the ear fell to the floor. The kids were not fighting, yet my son had to go to the principal and I was called at work. I was told by the school that I would owe restitution. I don’t feel I owe money for something that was already broke, and that my son accidentally touched which made them finish falling apart. What are my rights?

Asked on March 22, 2013 under Personal Injury, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If your child was responsible for the glasses being broken, then he should pay for the damage-- emphasis is if and should. From what you describe, the glasses were already in poor condition before your son even came into contact with them-- so the other child's parents bear some responsibility for the glasses falling due to a shabby repair job.  It is not reasonable to expect a young boy not to be active, thus potentially exposing the glasses to harm with shoddy repair.  If your child was responsible he should pay for the damages.  However, you are not legally obligated to do so until there is an order from a judge telling you that you have to pay for the damages.  As much as they would like to think so, a principal is not a judge.

Unfortunately, many school administrators live in a completely different world and have little or no common sense because they live in an academic bubble.  Just because the principal wants you to pay restitution and thinks that you should does not mean that you have to.  If this continues to be an issue, crack out your school's handbook.  Most will have procedures for appealing to the school board if the principal tries to take adverse action against your son for something that was already broken.  If the school board lives in the same bubble as the principal, consider hiring an attorney to assist you.  At this level, however, you should be able to resolve the issue through the school or the school board.


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