Lack of School’s Supervision and Notification Regarding Early Dismissal: Causing Death to a Child
By Brenda Wong
Rashad Al Hakim Jr was a child who loved life, basketball, studying, and spending time with his family and friends. He was well-loved, a happy child, and had a bright future ahead of him. His life was taken when Hoover High School (within the Fresno Unified School District) failed to fulfill its duties, failed to implement proper procedures and hire adequate personnel, allowing young Rashad to leave the school campus without supervision or notification to his mother or guardians. Rashad Al Hakim Jr. died in October 2022 while attempting to cross the street just outside of Hoover High School in Fresno, California, after a hit-and-run.
Throughout the course of Rashad’s education, his mother, Ragina Bell, had a habit of picking him up from school. Ms. Bell was adamant about picking up and dropping off Rashad to and from school and did not allow Rashad to walk home alone. Even when there was a schedule conflict, Ms. Bell would make transportation arrangements for Rashad.
On October 4, 2022, young Rashad was attending basketball practice at the Hoover High School campus when staff members at the high school suddenly rushed students, including Rashad, off the school campus. It is unclear why students were suddenly rushed off campus. Despite Rashad’s numerous attempts to remain on campus grounds until someone picked him up, staff members repeatedly instructed Rashad to leave the high school campus immediately. Basketball practice was not over yet, and Hoover High School did not notify Rashad’s mother or guardian regarding this early dismissal so as to allow Rashad’s mother to pick him up. Following the instructions by employees of Hoover High School, Rashad attempted to “leave the high school campus immediately” and attempted to cross the street. As he stepped into the street, a driver hit him and left him on the street. Hoover High School personnel were not aware of the tragic collision at the time, because they were not present at the time to monitor or supervise students. Rashad was ultimately admitted to the hospital, where he fought for his life for about one week. Unfortunately, Rashad ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
In this lawsuit, we allege five causes of action against the negligent driver and Fresno Unified School District for: (i) Negligence – Wrongful Death; (ii) Negligence per se – Wrongful Death; (iii) Negligent Supervision of Students; (iv) Negligent Hiring, Training, Supervision, Retention of Employees; and (v) Survival Action.
Specifically as against the School District, we allege that Rashad’s tragic death happened because Hoover High School failed to fulfill its duties as a school, failed to fulfill the duties owed to Rashad and his parents/guardians, and failed to properly and adequately hire, retain, supervise, and/or train its employees in fulfilling the necessary duties. We allege that no Hoover High School personnel, teachers, or security guards were present to ensure that their minor students, including Rashad, were safe, secure, or in the custody of their parents or guardians after the early dismissal. The school did not notify parents regarding the early dismissal. Rather, the school allowed students to freely roam off the school campus without any supervision or prior notification to the students’ parents and/or guardians. If Hoover High School had notified Rashad’s mother about the early dismissal, Rashad’s mother would have been waiting at the campus to pick Rashad up, and he would not have crossed the street, where tragedy struck. If Hoover High School had fulfilled its obligations and responsibilities, we would still be able to enjoy Rashad’s smile and laughter today.
Hoover High School knew or should have known that releasing students from school without notifying their parents could cause harm or injuries to students. Notifications about early dismissals are not and should not be optional. Students should not be released early from the school campus without supervision or notification to the students’ parents/guardians.
*This matter is an ongoing case. Statements above are allegations and are pending proof at trial.