"So I started thinking, 'is this worth it?'" Stewart said. "It's all taxpayer dollars. As a safety person, one of my jobs is to determine the amount of risk and liability when it comes to activities and limit the cost. I see a high potential when it comes to swings and lawsuits."
Other equipment such as monkey bars will remain on the playgrounds, even though Stewart said more injuries occur on monkey bars than swings. But Stewart said he's able to maintain the proper protective barrier beneath monkey bars.
"We're not going to prevent every accident," he said. "I would love it if we could. That is not a realistic expectation. If you go that route, do you get rid of everything in the playground? Then they have nothing except grass."
A countywide principals meeting is scheduled for next week and the equipment's removal is expected to be among the topics.
"We're living in a sue-happy society, which is sad that we've let it come down to affecting kids at this level with lawyers," said Milton Elementary Principal Kim Cooper.
State Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said she was unaware of other counties removing swing sets, although individual schools occasionally remove old or deteriorating equipment.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said nearly 1.8 million injuries associated with playground equipment were treated by emergency rooms and other personnel across the country from 2001-08, the latest year available. About one-fourth of the injuries occurred at schools.
In Oklahoma, a 9-year-old girl died last month after falling off school playground equipment and hitting her head on the turf. The accident remains under investigation and occurred on equipment known as the X-Wave, which has plastic hinges and moves up and down.
Officials in at least six Oklahoma school districts have either already removed the structures or prohibited children from playing on them.