Parents sue Cd'A School District

Boy broke hip after falling from snow berm at recess

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A Coeur d'Alene boy and his mother are suing Coeur d'Alene School District 271 over a hip injury he sustained during recess in 2008.

"We think there should have been better supervision," said attorney Regina McCrea, representing Stephen Abercrombie, 14, who is suing the district through his mother, Lynn.

Stephen, a student at Atlas Elementary at the time, was allowed to play on a steep mountain of snow on the playground during recess in January 2008, according to the suit filed in First District Court on Feb. 1.

When Stephen was accidentally knocked off the snow pile by another student, McCrea said, the then-10-year-old fell 6 feet to the ground and suffered a femoral head fracture in his left hip.

The plaintiffs believe the school could have prevented the injury, she said, by better plowing the snow pile, roping it off or at least forbidding the children to play on it.

"When you're playing on a playground, kids push each other, that's not our issue," McCrea said. "It was that he was 6 feet off the ground."

The boy has since undergone several surgeries for the injury, she added, one on the same day of the accident.

During his recovery he missed about two months of school, during which Lynn home schooled him.

Now attending Canfield Middle School, Stephen may eventually need to have the hip replaced, McCrea said.

"It's just been a really hard recovery road for Stephen," said McCrea, adding the suit is being filed now that his injury has stabilized. "It was definitely a serious injury."

The plaintiffs, who could not be reached for comment, are asking for judgment in excess of $10,000.

School district Superintendent Hazel Bauman said she can't comment on pending litigation, but said the district conducts regular maintenance checks of playground equipment and other fixed objects like trees and fences.

"We certainly take health and safety of kids seriously, in all seasons," Bauman said.

The school district generally plows its own grounds, she said, unless the snow volume is overwhelming and the job must be contracted.

If there are snow berms, she said, ground crews endeavor to keep them as far away as possible from where the children are going to be.

"We wouldn't be in the business of children, if we didn't care about their health and safety as well as their education," Bauman said.

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