Annals of Health Law
situation.39 Additionally, existing state recreational user statutes have
traditionally intended to limit liability for recreational use on private land and
in municipal parks.40 They have not included health outcomes as one of their
stated purposes, nor have they often addressed school recreational facilities
or many activities conducive to physical activity.41
Recognizing these drawbacks, the AHA now advocates for state
legislation that clarifies liability protections for schools for community use
of recreational facilities outside of regular school hours.42 As part of this
advocacy effort, the AHA has created policy guidance on school liability
legislation, with sample language designed to provide a clear statement of
immunity and to facilitate changes in state laws, where needed, to encourage
public access to school facilities for recreation and physical activity.43 The
AHA policy guidance is discussed below.
VI. COMPONENTS OF POLICY GUIDANCE AND SAMPLE LEGISLATION
The AHA and the Public Health Law Center44 have developed policy
guidance in the form of sample legislation for individual states to use as a
starting point in developing policies to eliminate or reduce barriers to
community recreational use of school facilities.45 This policy guidance has
several key components, including: (1) findings; (2) purpose; (3) definitions;
(4) liability provisions; (5) liability exceptions; and (6) implementation.46
Each component, or section, is discussed below. In addition to describing
the sample language for each component, the source identifies key
considerations for stakeholders to discuss as individualized state policy is
considered and developed.47 Actual sample language for each component is
provided in the footnotes to the discussion.
39. See id.
40. John O. Spengler, et al., Policies to Promote the Community Use of Schools: A Review
of State Recreational User Statutes, 39 AM. J. PREVENTIVE MED. 81, 82 (2010) [hereinafter
Policies to Promote].
41. Id. at 86.
42. See SHARED USE AGREEMENTS, supra note 8.
43. ELIMINATING BARRIERS, supra note 35.
44. The Public Health Law Center is a national non-profit organization of law and policy
specialists that help health leaders, officials, and advocates use the law to advance public
health. Founded in 2000, the organization today is a preeminent authority in U.S. public health
policy and a respected legal resource for dozens of local, state, national and international health
organizations. The center is located at William Mitchell College of Law, the largest law school
in Minnesota and one of the top U.S. law schools in public interest law. See About Us, PUBLIC
HEALTH LAW CENTER, http://publichealthlawcenter.org/about (last visited March 22, 2013).
45. ELIMINATING BARRIERS, supra note 35.