A teacher who was injured while chaperoning students on an official school ski trip was entitled to worker’s compensation, Massachusetts’ highest court has ruled.
Karen Sikorski, a math teacher at Peabody High School, was chaperoning a group of students from the school’s ski club on one of their outings. The teacher fell while skiing and injured her shoulder. Her injury required two surgeries and a regimen of physical therapy, according to court papers.
Sikorski filed a worker’s compensation claim with the city of Peabody, which is the legal parent of the school system. The city denied her claim, saying she was injured during her voluntary participation in a recreational activity. After the case worked its way through the Massachusetts appeals process, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court agreed to review it.
In a Dec. 11 decision, the state high court ruled for Sikorski, saying that her skiing “arose out of and in the course of her employment as a teacher.” The court noted that it was customary for teachers to serve as chaperones on the ski club’s trips and to supervise students, enforce school rules, and monitor student safety. Further, the school encouraged teachers to participate as ski club chaperones, the court noted. And the teacher’s skiing along with students was not comparable to certain recreational activities that had been found to be outside the realm of worker’s compensation, such as playing softball on a company team or attending a company picnic.
The decision in Karen Sikorski’s Case is available from by clicking on the opinions page of the Supreme Judicial Court.
A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.