A white stately sign for Berkeley High School in front of the fence around the school.
Berkeley High School on Allston Way, Downtown Berkeley. Credit: Ximena Natera, Berkeleyside/Catchlight

Berkeley Unified filed a lawsuit last week against a student and their parents to cover the cost of workers compensation benefits for a security guard who was injured trying to break up a fight at Berkeley High.

On Aug. 21, 2021, a school safety officer tried to intervene in a fight involving the student, when the student’s parents struck her, according to the lawsuit.

The officer sustained injuries to the brain, inner ear, jaw, teeth and hips, workers compensation documents show.

The suit claims that because the student and parents caused the officer’s injuries, they should pay for expenses associated with them. The suit seeks money to cover the money that BUSD has already paid, as well as any future expenses the district might incur. The suit doesn’t specify the damages.

BUSD is self-insured, like many school districts, which means it is responsible for workers compensation benefits.

The officer was represented by the law firm Boxer & Gerson in her workers compensation case. Julius Young, an attorney with the firm, described an “epidemic of violence against California workers” in a blog post. He cited as an example a case at San Francisco Unified where a district employee was allegedly hit with a baton by a San Francisco parks and recreation worker, while trying to tell students to leave a park bathroom and return to class.

There is an effort moving through the state legislature to make workplaces safer — SB 533 would require that employers create a workplace violence prevention plan.  

The officer had been injured on the job in her work two other times. In March 2021, she sustained injuries to the neck, arm and hand while working for UC Berkeley. In 2014, she hurt her ankle as an employee of Securitas Security Services.

Neither the officer, her attorneys, the school district nor the district’s attorneys responded to requests for comment. Neither the parents nor student are named in the lawsuit.

Ally Markovich, who covers the school beat for Berkeleyside, is a former high school English teacher. Her work has appeared in The Oaklandside, The New York Times, Huffington Post and Washington Post,...