Your school isn’t just for learning; it’s also a part of your community. Theater troupes stage plays in your auditorium. Local sports teams practice on your field. The school gym doubles as a polling place for elections. Without the proper safeguards in place, your school could be held responsible for injuries and property damage during those events. The next time you let a third party use your facilities for an event, follow these steps to help protect your school from costly claims, reputational damage, and risks to your property and employees.
Prior to the Event
- Establish clear guidelines on what groups and activities will be permitted at your school. For example, exclude dangerous activities, such as those that use pyrotechnics or involve animals.
- Develop a written agreement that documents important information, such as the parties involved, specific activities, dates, times, locations and resources being used, and any restrictions. Review the agreement with your legal counsel and require any outside party to sign the agreement prior to the event.
- Work with your legal counsel to develop “hold harmless” agreements as a way to further protect your school and transfer risk to the organization using your facility.
- Require anyone using your facility to have insurance. Request a current copy of the policy or a certificate of insurance to verify coverage and keep all certificates on file. Also require that:
- Coverage be provided by an insurer in good standing with independent insurance credit rating agencies.
- Your school is named as an additional insured.
- Coverages include but are not limited to workers compensation, general liability, product liability, commercial auto, umbrella, and other coverage specific to the needs of the event (such as professional liability, law enforcement coverage, etc.).
- Policy limits are equal to or greater than your own.
- You receive a 30-day notification before policy expiration or cancellation.
- Require the third party to hire security for events with a large number of attendees.
- Confirm your school’s business office is aware of and has approved use of the facility for each event.
During and After the Event
- Limit access to areas of the facility not in use by the third party. Use physical barriers or locked doors to separate off those areas.
- Require that a school representative be present.
- Have your custodial staff or maintenance staff inspect and secure event areas before and after use. Document inspection and cleaning activities as well as area conditions following the event.
By having clear parameters in place, you can continue to support your community and its activities while also protecting your school.