Those who live in Illinois already know about the tragic drowning of a 14-year-old autistic student while he was on school property. As more and more details about the student’s death emerge, a picture of the school’s lack of appropriate supervision is also coming into focus.
Two people have already been fired from their jobs following the death of the boy and a third firing may also happen. However, the two terminated employees have begun speaking out about the events that led to the boy’s wrongful death.
Officials with the Chicago Public Schools claim “an appropriate staffing plan” and “observance of safety regulations” were in place that day. However, both a terminated lifeguard and a fired substitute aide claim that was not the case. The aide says that she was not told that she was responsible for the boy, nor was she given any information about his disability. Both staffers claim safety procedures were absent or not communicated to them.
On that day in January, between 65 and 70 students (reports conflict about the exact number) were in the pool with six adults onsite to supervise the children. The lifeguard says that there were too many children in the pool and not enough adult supervision. He also said that with at least 15 special education students in the pool, more supervision was likely necessary. Finally, he indicated that he could not see the drowning victim due to the activity in the pool.
The wrongful death victim did not know how to swim and was not wearing a life vest. He also suffered from “significant communication problems.” According to reports, the youth was in the water without adequate supervision for approximately 10 minutes before someone noticed him at the bottom of the pool. His mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chicago Public Schools.
For those who have a lost a child because of inadequate supervision, there aren’t enough words to describe the tragedy they went through. Hopefully, holding those responsible for such accidents will help prevent incidents like this one in the future.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “One lapse after another at CPS school where boy with autism drowned,” Katie Drews and Lauren FitzPatrick, Sep. 08, 2017