Florida Tragedies Highlight Training Need

Monday, December 10, 2012

The accidental deaths of two special needs students from Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Fla. this year are shedding light on the need for comprehensive, mandatory emergency preparedness training for paraeducators. In October, 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, a middle school student with Down syndrome, was found hiding under the bleachers during gym class by a coach, who two weeks earlier had complained to the assistant principal that the exceptional student education (ESE) aides were inattentive. The coach brought her to the aides, and asked them to keep an eye on her. But she managed to leave the gym unsupervised and climb a four-foot fence surrounding a pond on school property, where, according to a sheriff’s report cited in the Tampa Bay Times, she was discovered drowned five hours later.

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