Can a school admin be blamed for the death of a student in the campus?
Jonas Paolo Ferrer, an Electrical Engineering student from the Technological Institute of the Philippines – Quezon City, died late last week on campus following a heart attack. His sister Joydee made a post on Facebook essentially blaming the school administration for her brother’s death, saying that he could have been saved had proper medical procedures been done promptly.
Many students voiced out their frustrations through that popular thread in TIP MEME, sometimes using foul language. Before anything else, it must be asked: How much responsibility does a school administration have when a student dies inside its premises?
A lot of students just shrug when teachers say time and again that they are their parents whenever they’re in school. The fact is, that has a legal basis because of the concept of “in loco parentis” (“in the place of parents” in English). Briefly stated, the teachers and even the school administration assumes certain responsibilities over the students if they are in the campus.
In a 1988 decision in Amadora vs. Court of Appeals, the Philippine Supreme Court elucidated a liberal interpretation of this concept:
“As long as it can be shown that the student is in the school premises in pursuance of a legitimate student objective, in the exercise of a legitimate student right, and even in the enjoyment of a legitimate student right, and even in the enjoyment of a legitimate student privilege, the responsibility of the school authorities over the student continues.”
Now, let’s go back to the death of Jonas Paolo Ferrer. Here are my thoughts:
1) The student died because of a lingering medical condition. That makes it unfair to put too much blame on the school admin. You see, it’s not like he died because of a fraternity-related violence. Had that been the case, you can blame the school’s security for being too negligent.
2) While it’s right to say that schools should have a doctor or two on their clinic, expecting that they should have an ambulance as well is too much. That will only happen if the school is affiliated with a medical institution, like the University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University – Nicanor Reyes Memorial Foundation, and World Citi Colleges (WCC).
3) Nevertheless, Ferrer’s death should serve as a reminder to the school administration of the need to revise its system if a similar scenario happens again in the future. For example, TIP QC should have an agreement with WCC or the East Avenue Medical Center, the two nearest hospitals, about fetching patients from the campus who are in emergency cases.