New procedures needed, school board members say - FOX 13 News

New procedures needed, school board members say

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Hillsborough County's school superintendent has been stressing change – big change – after the deaths of two special needs children.

Some of those changes will likely include new procedures and a lot of training for special education aides and attendants.

If you're a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, you know that safety of our children is a top priority. Now, top officials say they're taking a hard look at the jobs of exceptional student education, or ESE, aides and attendants.

The school district is also now developing emergency checklists and hiring workers to keep track of medically fragile students who ride the bus. These recommended changes come after the deaths of two students.

Isabella Herrera died a day after suffering respiratory distress on a school bus. Jenny Caballero, who had down syndrome, drowned in a pond behind Rodgers Middle School after wandering away from a PE class.

"I think that right now we're trying to gain the public's confidence back in our school district and making sure that we do everything that we can and ensure the safety of our students and restore the public's confidence," said April Griffin of the school board.

Some of the other recommended improvements include mandatory training for all ESE aides. However, that would not fully be implemented until August.

The county would also inspect wheelchair lifts on buses and fence heights around ponds. Some recommendations are still up for discussion, for example possible incentives - like bonuses for aides who work with high-need students.

There is a detailed list of dozens of steps the district will be looking at taking soon. It will all be laid out in full detail at school board workshop Thursday. Some of the changes regarding reporting medical incidents have already been put into place.

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