DILLARD, C. J., DOYLE, P. J., and MERCIER, J.
Zackery Bryant ("Zachery") was tragically struck
and killed by a school bus after he exited the bus at the
elementary school he attended. His parents, Jason Bryant and
Rachel Bryant (the "Bryants"), filed a negligence
action against the school's assistant principal, Tracy
Llewelyn, individually, alleging that the negligent
performance of her duties in overseeing the unloading of the
buses contributed to Zachery's death. Llewelyn filed a
motion for summary judgment, asserting that she was entitled
to official immunity. The trial court denied the motion. We
granted Llewelyn's application for interlocutory review.
Because Llewelyn was entitled to summary judgment, we
reviewing a trial court's ruling on motion for summary
judgment, we review the evidence in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party to determine whether issues of fact
remain or whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. See Beursken v. Gwinnett County,
311 Ga.App. 467 (716 S.E.2d 540) (2011).
viewed, the evidence shows that Llewelyn was the assistant
principal at Chattanooga Valley Elementary School, which is
in the Walker County School District. On the morning of April
14, 2014, Llewelyn was in front of the school building,
welcoming students as they arrived at school. Llewelyn was
not assigned to this task; she made her own schedule and
chose to greet students upon their arrival. On that morning,
she was facing the school buses, talking to students as they
arrived, and telling students to slow down because it was
raining and the ground was wet. She radioed a custodian to
bring a mop to dry the floor near the cafeteria entrance.
arrived at the school on a school bus. After exiting the bus,
he returned to the bus to retrieve a video game player. He
exited the bus again and walked toward the school building.
The bus driver began driving away and, hearing someone yell
for him to stop, he stopped the bus. Llewelyn heard a
disconcerting noise, ran to the bus, and "saw what had
happened." She ran to a police officer who was
monitoring traffic on campus, and informed him that a child
had been struck by a school bus. The officer found Zachery on
the ground, deceased.
school district's transportation supervisor deposed that
the school district had adopted a "Transportation
Handbook," which was in effect at the time of the
incident. The school transportation handbook was used to
train bus drivers. Under the heading "Unloading at
School, Driver Cont'd," the handbook stated:
"School staff should be on duty to supervise[.]"
The transportation supervisor opined that it was the duty of
the school staff to "receive the children" as they
exited the school buses.
their negligence action against Llewelyn, the Bryants alleged
that Llewelyn had "specific ministerial duties of
monitoring, overseeing and assuring the safe unloading of the
school buses," that she was negligent in failing to
fulfill those duties, and that Zackery's death was a
result of her negligence. The Bryants maintained that the
transportation handbook established a ministerial duty. In
Llewelyn's motion for summary judgment, she asserted that
she was entitled to official immunity because her duty to
supervise the children, including Zackery, was discretionary
rather than ministerial. The trial court denied the motion.
doctrine of official immunity, also known as qualified
immunity, offers public officers and employees limited
protection from suit in their personal capacit[ies]."
Grammens v. Dollar, 287 Ga. 618, 619 (697 S.E.2d
775) (2010). A public employee, such as Llewelyn, may be
personally liable for her negligent ministerial acts, but she
may not be held liable for her discretionary acts unless such
acts are wilful, wanton, or outside the scope of her
authority. Gilbert v. Ri chardson, 264 Ga. 744,
752-753 (6) (452 S.E.2d 476) (1994). (The Bryants have not
alleged that Llewelyn's acts were wilful, wanton, or
outside the scope of her authority.)
A ministerial act is commonly one that is simple, absolute,
and definite, arising under conditions admitted or proved to
exist, and requiring merely the execution of a specific duty.
A discretionary act, however, calls for the exercise of
personal deliberation and judgment, which in turn entails
examining the facts, reaching reasoned conclusions, and
acting on them in a way not specifically directed.
McDowell v. Smith, 285 Ga. 592, 593 (678 S.E.2d 922)
(2009) (citation omitted). Whether an action is discretionary
or ministerial "depends on the character of the specific
actions complained of, not the general nature of the job, and
is to be made on a case-by-case basis." Id. at
594-595 (citation and punctuation omitted). "The
determination of whether the acts or omissions of [Llewelyn]
were ministerial or discretionary is a legal question for the
court." Kelly v. Lewis, 221 Ga.App. 506, 508
(471 S.E.2d 583) (1996) (citation omitted). Such a
determination may be made by the court on summary judgment.
See, e.g., Butler v. McNeal, 252 Ga.App. 68, 70 (555
S.E.2d 525) (2001).
there is an established policy requiring an official to take
specified action in a specified situation, the policy creates
a ministerial duty on the part of the official to perform the
specified task." Grammens, 287 Ga. at 620. But
in order for a written policy to impose a ministerial duty,
"the policy must mandate simple, absolute, and definite
action and require the execution of a specific task without
any exercise of discretion." Id.
order denying summary judgment, the trial court found that
the transportation handbook established a ministerial duty
that a staff member be "on duty" as children exited
the school bus, which duty Llewelyn negligently failed to
fulfill. The court further found that this case was analogous
to McDowell v. Smith, supra. In that case, a school
receptionist failed to consult with an administrator or check
a student's information card to verify that the person
picking up the child was authorized to do so, as required by
school policy, and released the child to her noncustodial
parent. McDowell, 285 Ga. at 592-593. Because the
receptionist's "mandated actions were simple,
absolute and definite, and required the execution of specific
tasks without any exercise of discretion," the Supreme
Court determined that they were ministerial functions.
Id. at 593-594.
assuming the directive in the transportation handbook applied
to Llewelyn, the handbook's requirement that "school
staff . . . be on duty to supervise" children as they
exit buses is not simple, absolute and definite, and does not
require the execution of specific tasks. Nor is a duty to
"receive" the children simple or definite. Rather,
the directives cited are vague and indefinite, and
necessarily require the exercise of discretion, especially in
light of the long-standing rule that the "duty to
supervise, control and monitor students is a discretionary
function." McDowell, 285 Ga. at 594; accord
Reece v. Turner, 284 Ga.App. 282, 285-286 (1) (643
S.E.2d 814) (2007) ("[D]ecisions concerning the
supervision of students and school personnel are considered
discretionary, even where specific school policies designed
to help control and monitor students have been
violated.") (citations and punctuation omitted);
Harper v. Patterson, 270 Ga.App. 437, 440 (2) (606
S.E.2d 887) (2004) (noting that "the supervision of
student safety is a discretionary function, the proper
exercise of which ...