Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 359 - Dec 10 1954
Attorney General Don Eastvold

SCHOOLS ‑- POWERS OF DISTRICT ‑- LIABILITY INSURANCE

The board of directors of a school district may expend school district funds to pay the premiums on an insurance policy limiting the district's liability occasioned by bodily injuries to its students or faculty members on school premises.

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                                                               December 10, 1954

Honorable John Panesko
Prosecuting Attorney
Lewis County
Chehalis, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 359


Dear Sir:

            You have requested the opinion of this office on the following question:

            Can the board of directors of a school district expend school district funds to pay the premiums on an insurance policy against liability which the school district may incur by reason of bodily injury to students or faculty upon school premises?

            In our opinion, the answer is yes.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 4.08.120 provides that a school district has general tort liability.  McLeod v. Grant County School District, 42 Wn. (2d) 316, andBriscoe v. School District No. 123, 32 Wn (2d) 353.  This liability has been modified with respect to certain athletic and manual training facilities by RCW 28.58.030.

            RCW 28.58.100 (3) specifically authorizes school district directors to insure school buildings.  RCW 28.58.100 (11) expressly authorizes the directors to insure the district against liability arising from the operation of its motor vehicles.  On October 1, 1931, this office advised that, notwithstanding the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] absence of any express grant of power, a school district would have the right by necessary implication to protect itself by liability insurance.  We believe the same general principle is applicable to the fact pattern you have presented.  This conclusion is confined to insurance contracts protecting the school district from liability.  Thus a policy insuring students or faculty members for bodily injuries, which would be the liability of third persons rather than the school district, would not be a proper application of school district funds.

            We are enclosing a copy of the opinion to the Pacific County Prosecuting Attorney referred to above and the insurance policy you forwarded.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


ANDY ENGEBRETSEN
Assistant Attorney General