School board approves settlement with Caballero family - FOX 13 News

School board approves settlement with Caballero family

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Elizabeth Rosas wept as a translator read a statement on behalf of her family in reaction to their $600,000 settlement with Hillsborough County Schools.

"First and foremost, we want to forgive everyone who was involved in the loss of our beloved daughter," she said.

Her daughter Jenny Caballero, a seventh grader with Down syndrome, drowned in a pond near Rodgers Middle School after she was able to walk away from the gym last October.

The family's statement went on to say, "Obviously this tragedy has impacted and forever changed many lives and we are aware that no one meant for this to happen."

The family's attorney, Stephen Diaco, who took on the case pro bono, added, "There's been improved training for the ESE programs. There's career paths now for ESE aides to attract better people. Also, a task force was created."

Rodgers Middle also built a six-foot fence around the pond near the school to prevent future tragedies.

Another big change is that more than half a dozen employees at the school were either fired, resigned or retired following the incident.

"My career, my name, everything has been torn apart. What I've been doing for eleven years is no longer. It's come to an end," said Shawn Livingston, the former Assistant Principal at Rodgers, in an exclusive interview with FOX 13's Hetal Gandhi.

He was among many blamed for Jenny's death, but later vindicated, pointing out that he raised red flags before this ever happened.

"The district needs to be proactive and not reactive. It should not take a tragedy for the district administration to provide help and support to the schools," he said.

The toll on the district was apparent at today's school board meeting, as board member Susan Valdes apologized to the family in Spanish and vowed this can never happen again.

"I feel deeply about the loss of this child," she said.

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