Senior high school graduation parties are a traditional end to a student’s K-12 school career. Very few school districts in Washington State actually sponsor the senior graduation party. Instead, a parent or booster group raises money, makes arrangements and supervises the graduation party.
Graduation parties that could be considered “sponsored” by the school district can leave a district open to liability exposure. With that potential exposure in mind, it is best practice for the school district to create separation between the district and the graduation event. The district needs to clearly communicate with parents that it will not be sponsoring the graduation party.
- Parent groups that arrange and put on the event should provide their own liability insurance. A special events coverage insurance policy is available through the Risk Cooperative.
- Parents who choose to pay an event organizer to plan and put on a graduation party should require the organizer to provide proof that it carries liability insurance. Before signing any contract with an event organizer, parents should have an attorney review and approve it.
- Hold graduation parties off campus If possible. If held on district property, follow the district’s facility use policies and procedures.
- Event organizers should maintain a separate account for fundraising, donations, and fees so there is no comingling with district accounts or funds.
- Event organizers should provide transportation for students to the event to discourage students from leaving on their own. If district busses are used, the district should require event organizers to contract with the district.
- If district staff are involved, they should only participate as volunteers, not district employees.
- The parent group should create an “informed consent form” for parents to sign.
Remember, good supervision is the key to having a safe event. Train your volunteers in supervision techniques and emergency procedures prior to the event.