A FOX13 Investigation found playgrounds at public schools in Tennessee are not on the same page, with each district deciding individually how often playgrounds are inspected, and who inspects them.
Playgrounds are a common place where young children are injured, with more than 200,000 children treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year with playground-related injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most injuries occur on public playgrounds, including those at local schools.
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FOX13 Consumer Investigator Kristin Leigh began asking districts about playground safety procedures after a 9-year-old was injured at Peabody Elementary in Memphis in August 2016.
The student was playing basketball on the school’s court, when the steel rim fell off, knocked the child’s tooth out, and cut his face. The child’s family filed a $50,000 lawsuit against the Shelby County Board of Education in Shelby County Circuit Court in July.
The family claims schools officials didn’t do enough to keep the school playground safe, according to the family’s attorney, Darrell Castle.
“Basketball goals don’t just fall,” Castle told FOX13. “If you inspected them, you might be able to see that perhaps they’re just barely hanging there and need to be fixed.”
The lawsuit claims schools officials and employees “did not adequately supervise children” and they “failed to maintain the basketball hoop.”
“You can’t have dangerous conditions out there,” Castle said. “People’s kids are going to be injured.”
What’s Required of Local Schools?
With the 9-year-old’s family arguing school officials don’t do enough to protect children, FOX13 began asking what school districts are required to do to prevent playground injuries.
“This issue is largely handled locally,” Sara Gast, a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Education, told FOX13 via email. “There are also broader state rules on school facilities, which mention playgrounds.”
Gathering the Facts from Local Districts
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