Catholic University Law Review


Alison Landry


In 2012 the Supreme Court of Virginia declined to recognize a special relationship between a school’s vice principal and the school’s students. Without the third person liability that accompanies special relationships, a vice principal is allowed to put student safety at the bottom of his to-do list. This Note analyzes why the Supreme Court of Virginia’s decision in Burns v. Gagnon should have found that a special relationship existed between a vice principal and his students. Declining to recognize this special relationship has left school administrators with little risk of liability for a student’s harm. This Note discusses the few recognized special relationships in Virginia and the growing recognition of a school-student special relationship in other states. The special relationship between a school and its students has received large support in case law outside of the state of Virginia. The support has been strong enough to cause the Restatement (Third) of Torts to include the relationship. Though Virginia’s concern of burdening officials with greater liability has merit, the more important concern should be student safety.