School District Disputes Grand Jury Claim of Dangerous Field
The El Dorado Union High School District was recently provided a copy of the El Dorado County 2013–2014 Grand Jury Report alleging dangerous conditions on the Ponderosa High School football field.
The district is evaluating the Grand Jury’s findings and conclusions. Construction of the new field was completed in August 2009. Over the nearly four years that the field has been in use, the district has never received a report of any accident, tripping incident, or other safety issue associated with any depression or unevenness of the field surface. The district takes its responsibility for student safety very seriously and believes the new field provides a much improved and safer playing surface than the previous bunch-grass surface that existed at Ponderosa and the other district high schools for many years.
The district monitors all of its high school playing fields and is aware of the deflections in the surface of the Ponderosa field, which follow the drainage trenches located beneath the field. The depressions are slight, fluctuating from zero deviation from level to a maximum of ⅞ inch spread over a width of six to 10 feet. The variance would be unnoticeable if the yard lines did not draw attention to them.
Although the district is disappointed that the field is not perfect, it has no evidence that the depressions constitute a dangerous condition. The Grand Jury Report does not explain its underlying rationale for declaring the field dangerous and it is unclear how this determination was made.
In response to the Grand Jury Report, the district has scheduled a meeting with the parties involved in the design and construction of the field, in order to thoroughly evaluate the Grand Jury’s findings. Unfortunately, there is no simple fix for the situation and any repair work done now is likely to impact the integrity of the finished surface and may create more severe problems in the future.
Student health and safety are of paramount importance to the district, and we have been proud to provide our students with some of the safest playing fields in existence.