First, courts do not enforce contracts that waive gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct.
Second, while Massachusetts courts have never ruled directly on this issue, they have hinted that it is against public policy to require a wavier of negligence in order for a child to attend public school.
Third, there is some question whether a parent's signature can waive a minor child's right to sue, although the recent trend in the Massachusetts judiciary seems to allow parents to waive a minor's right to sue, at least for extracurricular activities.
The takeaway - read over those beginning of the year forms carefully. If you have any questions, contact the Boston area education law practice of Lillian E. Wong.