An Arizona appellate court ruled that a school district was not liable for injuries to a fifth-grader that were sustained while the student was riding her bicycle home from school. Jennifer Monroe was struck and injured by a truck at a busy intersection one block from her school. The intersection had marked crosswalks and traffic lights, but no crossing guard.

When Monroe filed suit against the school district, claiming that it was negligent in failing to post a crossing guard at the intersection, the trial court granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment. Monroe appealed this decision.

The Arizona appellate court held that a school does not have a duty to care for a student traveling to and from school when the student is not in the school’s custody or participating in a school-sponsored function. The court noted that the school’s duty to a student is strictly limited by time and space and the school-student relationship exists so long as a student is in a school’s care and custody, and terminates when the student has departed from the school’s custody.

The school had no affirmative duty to provide crossing guards. However, the court did state that if the school had voluntarily provided crossing guards, a duty of care would be imposed on that conduct. “Absent a statute to the contrary or an undertaking specifically assumed, an educational institution has no duty to conduct or supervise school children in going to or from their homes,” the Arizona appellate court wrote.