School board wants answers in wake of student's death - FOX 13 News

School board wants answers in wake of student's death

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Two separate investigations are now going on in the Hillsborough School District.

One will determine the discipline that aides, teachers or administrators involved in the Jenny Caballero case might face.

The other is to review every policy involving special needs students.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office released a 700-page report, with accusations that at least five aides were not doing their job in supervising Jenny Caballero just prior to her death.

The five aides are now suspended with pay while an internal investigation begins.

"We're not interested in finding a scapegoat. But we are interested in maintaining the safety and security for school children, and ensure our policies and procedures are appropriate," said superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

Tensions were high at Tuesday nights' school board meeting. Susan Valdez attacked Elia and the school board chairwoman Candy Olson.

"I believe we have a systematic problem, and it starts with the leadership of this board. And it's policies and procedures," Valdez said.

The rest of the board say they'll reserve judgment until Elia's staff finishes their investigation.

But they warn the findings better be complete, and objective.

"I think we need to look at anybody that was involved in this situation, and there needs to be accountability across the board," said board member April Griffin.

Many on the board still have not received a copy of the sheriff's report, but are responding to news accounts of it -- in particular, reports that aides sat on bleachers, not helping with the kids.

And in one case, an aide that left to have a smoke break.

"It's not the only place I've heard this," Griffin said. "More people are coming forward to say this is happening at their school. That people are taking these opportunities to walk away from their duties, to take a break. And that's not what it's for."

Griffin has a message to every school employee.

"These children that they have in their care is their number one priority. To take care of them and make sure they're safe and secure in their care. And they need to make sure they take that job very, very seriously," Griffin said.

Parents of special needs students are now part of the group, investigating the Caballero case. The superintendent has the final say on firing anyone involved.

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