School board discusses more special-needs training, protocol - FOX 13 News

School board discusses more special-needs training, protocol

Posted: Updated:
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's been just over a year since 7-year-old Bella Herrera passed away.

The pain is still there for her family, even as they try to cope.

"I don't want it to always be sad for us, it's always painful," her mother Lisa said. "I want to create good memories for the kids, and she's still a part of those memories."

Bella, who had a neuromuscular disorder, died one day after her airway became blocked while riding on her school bus.

It's believed an aide didn't properly position her wheelchair, which allowed her neck to fall forward.

In October 2012, 11-year-old Jenny Caballero drowned in a pond after the little girl, who had down syndrome, wandered away from Rodgers Middle School.

Those two tragedies led the Hillsborough County School District to re-evaluate their policies surrounding special needs students.

Thursday the school board gathered to discuss new recommendations.

"Over the past several months our school district and community have experienced some tragedies involving some of our most vulnerable students that have really shaken us to the core," said Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

Among the many proposed changes, more training for teacher's aides and more pay for that training.

"More in depth courses to more highly trained staff in those particular areas and would be compensated based on their completion of those modules," said Jeff Eakins, the general of federal programs for the Hillsborough County School District.

Also recommended, a policy where employees can call 911 first, if possible, in cases of a medical emergency.

Bus aides called their dispatch center first and then Bella's mother Lisa before anyone called 911 last January.

Also recommended Thursday: safety training videos that the entire staff and faculty would be required to watch, and trying to find and hire more qualified personnel to work with special-needs children - all in an attempt to provide a safe environment for special-needs students.

Powered by WorldNow

FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
3213 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33609
Main: (813) 876-1313
Newsroom: (813) 870-9630
Fax: (813) 871-3135

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices