TAMPA, Fla. — Following the deaths of two special-needs students, a work group at Hillsborough County Public Schools was asked to review safety issues that impact these students, Tampa Bay Times reports.
Isabella "Bella" Herrera died in January, a day after suffering respiratory distress on a school bus. Herrera had a neuromuscular disorder and had trouble holding her head up. She started choking, and neither the aide nor the driver called 911, according to the newspaper. Rather, they tried to have a dispatch operator or transportation supervisor call 911. Herrera’s parents are suing in federal court.
In October, 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, who had Down syndrome, drowned in a pond behind one of the district’s middle schools after walking away from a physical education class.
In the wake of these incidents, Superintendent MaryEllen Elia asked for the work group’s findings, and said that if there are district policies or procedures that need to be updated, changed or clarified, it will be done. She told the newspaper that the district’s school bus drivers are “free to decide whether to call 911 in case of an emergency,” and officials said that drivers have never been prohibited from doing so.
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