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School In Martinsville Shooting Case Not Legally Immune

Michael Phelps shot Chance Jackson after entering the school through an unlocked door and passing by a monitor.

A lawsuit against the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville over a middle-school shooting in 2011 can go forward.

A unanimous Indiana court of appeals rejected the school district‘s claim of legal immunity in the shooting of eighth-grader Chance Jackson at Martinsville West Middle School. The court says that immunity applies only to the setting of school policy, not to how it‘s carried out.

Jackson and a student injured by flying shell casings argue the district knew Michael Phelps had made threats and should have taken more precautions. Phelps had withdrawn from school after accumulating a long list of disciplinary referrals and had been banned from school property.

The suit complains a single monitor was assigned to watch both the front of the school and the unlocked door through which Phelps entered. It also contends monitors should have been specifically instructed to watch for Phelps.

The court says there‘s enough potential disagreement over whether the school could have foreseen the risk that the issue should be left to a jury.

The ruling affirms an earlier lower-court decision.

Phelps is serving a 30-year sentence for attempted murder.

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