Liability can be a serious concern when starting a program or organizing an event. Event organizers and participants should be aware of potential safety concerns and organizers should be prepared with an emergency plan.
For ongoing activities some schools ask families (both guardians and students) to sign forms that explicitly detail their responsibilities. These include things like using caution when crossing a roadway and reporting any incidents that may occur when traveling to/from school. This is not the same as a liability waiver. Liability waivers are not legally enforceable documents and may discourage families from participating in the programs.
Sponsoring or endorsing a SRTS program will rarely subject a school district to any direct liability. When a school district is simply sponsoring a SRTS program that is being run by parents, the city or county, or a separate organization, it is not responsible for how the program is run. However, if the district becomes aware of a safety problem with the program—for example, a volunteer who is failing to supervise children adequately—it should not continue to sponsor the program without taking action. The district should let families know there is a problem, make sure the problem is resolved, and stop supporting the program if the problem is not adequately addressed. In the case where the school or school district has assumed responsibility and management for a program, if it can be shown that the school took care to be responsible in their duty, they should be legally protected.
Many useful resources make recommendations to support participant safety and protect program and event organizers from liability risks.
Learn about Liability Best Practices
Liability 201 - a presentation from The Safe Routes to School Partnership which discusses liability basics, practices, supportive policies, and back up plans
Addressing Liability Concerns - resources on liability from ChangeLab Solutions, including state memos, volunteer liability, and insurance checklists
Crossing with Confidence - Also from ChangeLab Solutions, this fact sheet provides guidance for managing risk around crossing guard programs