Hillsborough School Board approves settlement in death of studen - WFLA News Channel 8

Hillsborough School Board approves settlement in death of student

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Jenny Caballero Jenny Caballero
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - With little discussion, the Hillsborough County School Board voted to approve a $500,000 settlement for the family of Jennifer Caballero.

In October of 2012, the 11 year old girl with down syndrome walked away from a gym class and slipped unnoticed into a retention pond behind Rogers Middle School.

School officials quickly began a search for the little girl and then called in the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office for help. A dive team from the sheriff's office found Jennifer's lifeless body six hours later in approximately 12 feet of water.

Since that day in October 2012, the district has trained all Special Education Teachers on what to do in a similar situation. The  district also revamped policies and procedures. 

Related story: Hillsborough school board demotes and fires employees over student death

A press release from the Caballero family lawyers says, "The settlement calls for an initial cash payment of $200,000, followed by an annuity funded with $300,000 that will continue to be paid to each of the parents for the rest of their lives."

School Board member Susan Valdes expressed sympathy to the family in English and Spanish at the board meeting.

"I inow that this may not necessarily be something that will take away the hurt of the family, but I'm hoping that in the name of Jenny, her siblings would be able to, well, do well." said Valdes.

Related story: Assistant principal appeals firing

"I think we and the family were really focused on what can be done to prevent something like this from happening again," Steve Hegarty, spokesperson for Hillsborough County Schools, says.  "So since this has happened the school board has been looking at all the protocols we have in place, all the procedures, the training. We've made a lot of change."

The payment from the Hillsborough County School District will come to the family in the form of a structured settlement.

Through and interpretor, the family said they forgive everyone involved in the death of their daughter.

The family statement read in part, "Obviously this tragedy has impacted and forever changed many lives.  We are aware that no one meant for this to happen.  Our goal from the beginning was to prevent this from happening to another family in our community again."

WFLA's Adrienne Pedersen contributed to this report.

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