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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
Education

Board reaches settlement in girl's death


Published:   |   Updated: April 1, 2014 at 06:51 PM

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board Tuesday approved in a 6-1 decision an $800,000 settlement with the parents of a student with a neuromuscular disorder who died a day after having a medical emergency on a school bus.

Isabella Herrera, a second-grader who attended Sessums Elementary, died in January 2012, a day after a bus ride home during which she experienced medical problems. Neither the driver nor an aide called 911 as Isabella turned blue and stopped breathing in her wheelchair. Instead, her mother was called twice.

Her mother, Lisa Herrera, told board members that she doesn't feel justice had been served for her daughter.

“This is not a victory,” she said. “It's very clear this has become so much bigger than us.”

Herrera spoke of some of the issues transportation employees have been recently reporting. Their concerns include faulty equipment, old buses and leadership problems. A review of the transportation department is underway and district staff told the board last week that improvements are being made.

“Something important to us was to bring to light a broken system,” Herrera said. “Have working radios on your buses. Have all staff dealing with children be CPR certified. These are simple solutions, all of which would have saved Bella's life.”

Some board members apologized to Herrera before they voted.

“Just know, for this board member, it's not over,” Susan Valdes said, adding that maybe the district could consider hiring nurses to ride buses carrying medically fragile students.

April Griffin was the only member to vote “no.”

“I do not think this was enough,” she said.

The settlement will now need to get the green light from the Hillsborough County Probate Court. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Also during today's meeting, several appointments were made:

• Middleton High School Principal Owen Young will be the district's Area 7 leadership director, effective April 14.

• Jonathan Grantham, currently principal of Roland Park K-8 Magnet School, will be the principal of the Turner-Bartels K-8 School, effective June 9.

• Marcus Murillo, currently principal at Webb Middle School, will be the district's new Area 8 leadership director, effective April 14.

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