• Our Chat Rooms are currently down. Please ask your questions by emailing us at contact at askthejudge.info.

    What if I damage school property?

    Date: 08.27.07 | by Judge Tom.

    All students are responsible for taking care of their books and school materials. If yours are damaged or lost, you may have to pay the replacement or repair costs.You′ll also have to pay the repair costs of minor acts of vandalism at school, such as a damaged locker, broken window, or graffiti. Stealing or damaging school property may result in suspension or expulsion, as well as having your grades or diploma withheld until the situation is corrected.

    • Parents in Alaska may be billed up to $2,000 for the acts of their children at school.
    • In Arizona, parents or guardians are held responsible for all damage done at school by their children.
    • In Iowa, students are fully responsible for any damage to their school books.


    State laws often place financial responsibility on both the student and the parents. There may be a limit on the maximum liability, or the law may be silent on this subject, which means that you and your parents are fully accountable for all damage. In 1996, three twelve-year-olds (two girls and one boy) caused $50,000 worth of damage to an elementary school in rural Arizona. They were sentenced to two years probation, 300 hours of community service each, and $1,000 in restitution to cover the school′s insurance deductible. The children were also limited to five hours of television time a week while on probation, and they were expelled from their school.

    Photo by Half Alive (Flickr)

    If you damage school property, you may be charged with criminal damage or reckless burning, depending on what you did and how much harm you caused. If someone is injured by your actions, assault or endangerment charges may be filed against you. Intentional or irresponsible conduct at school can result in disciplinary action from both law enforcement and the school.

    In May, 2012, an 11-year-old student urinated on a cart in the hallway of Upper Allen Elementary School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. On the cart were computers worth $36,000. They may be beyond repair and the replacement cost may fall on the boys’ parents. He has been charged with institutional (school) vandalism and criminal mischief in juvenile court.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    4 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Malcom K
      Fri, 12 Oct 2012 at 12:03

      I have been terminated from school because of minor school property damage. Is it right to be terminated? It was my first time offense and I admitted it to the Dean but he betrayed me and sent me straight to the vice president of the Uni and they are filling a termination charge against me. The degree of the damage was minor but they are aggrevating it. Saying it was big. I had the louvre and two holes on the wall. Please help me
      Dear Malcom: We suggest you talk with your parents about this. If you are a minor (under 18 years old) they may want to schedule an appointment with the Dean and discuss this situation. Under the rules in your school, they may be able to expel you based on this incident. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Jake
      Tue, 01 Oct 2013 at 01:09

      I was suspended from school last year because I accidentally tripped someone in the hallway. I said i was sorry, he said it was ok, so I started to walk away. He the proceeded to grab me by my shirt, haul me back towards him, throw me to the ground and beat me. I was suspended, and he received no punishment. Is this right?
      Dear Jake: Based on your description of what happened it doesn’t sound right. Perhaps you should have objected to the suspension last year. It’s probably too late now to do anything about it. Discuss this with your parents. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • S Boller
      Tue, 23 Sep 2014 at 11:12

      My son sat on the end of a table in class and he broke it. He was suspended one day and I have to pay the cost to replace the table. Do I have to pay the cost of a new table or should I be able to pay a depreciated value since the table is several years old. I live in the state of North Carolina.
      Dear S. Boller: Discuss this with the school so you can reach an agreement that’s acceptable to both of you. Most states have “parental responsibility laws” that set the amount a parent can be held to when their child damages someone else’s property. In North Carolina, the amount is $2,000. Take a look at North Carolina law 1-538.1 for the details. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).

    • Alison
      Sat, 30 May 2015 at 11:24

      I need help. My sibling goes to the same school as me and we’re in the same grade. She had my phone and I asked her to give it back but she wouldn’t. Ive always felt intimidated by her and in the moment I couldn’t take it anymore so I put a small hole in the wall and I’m freaking out. I did it because I felt bullied and taunted but then again I put a hole in the wall. What do you think they’ll do with me?
      Dear Alison: First, we encourage you to talk to your parents about this if you feel comfortable. With their help and support, you could talk to the school administrators, offer to pay for the damage and possibly resolve the matter by paying and taking responsibility for your actions. That may be the end of the matter. They also could decide that additional consequences are necessary like detention or in-school suspension, but ultimately that will depend on how the administrators choose to handle the matter. Finally, talking to your parents or another trusted adult like the school counselor or teacher or another relative can help you deal with your sibling better so that you don’t feel the urge to punch a wall in the future. There are better ways to cope with your frustration and talking it over with an adult is a great start to figuring out other coping strategies including confronting your sibling about how you sometimes feel bullied by her. Good luck.
      (Check our Resource Directory for more help and resources in your area. This is information only – not legal advice.)

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>