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Minnesota Legislature

New Law: Civil immunity for school districts

Published (7/15/2011)
By Hank Long
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Research shows that people who have regular access to recreational facilities are more likely to exercise regularly.

That is the contention of the Minnesota chapter of the American Heart Association and the Minnesota Healthy Kids Coalition, organizations that believe adults and children, particularly those in rural communities, would be more likely to engage in physical activity if schools felt more comfortable allowing outside groups to use their recreational amenities.

A new law clarifies a statute that provides civil immunity for school districts that make their facilities available for recreational use by members of the public. That immunity bars a person from holding the district liable for an injury or loss resulting from the use of the school facility for recreational activity.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake) and Sen. Ted Daley (R-Eagan), the law states that a school district would still be subject to liability for certain conditions that would entitle a trespasser to seek damages, such as a highly dangerous hazard on the property, if the district knew of its existence but did not remove it or post a warning. The legislation does not affect any existing duty owed by the school district.

Dettmer, a retired physical education teacher, said the law represents one of many small steps in combating obesity among children and adults.

The law is important to many rural communities around the state where public schools are the only indoor facilities to engage in physical activity, American Heart Association officials said.

The law is effective May 25, 2011.

HF1343*/ SF1068/CH57

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