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AIDES HAVE NO MEMORY OF MISSING-CHILD TRAINING

As the Hillsborough County school district investigates a student's death last month at Rodgers Middle School, issues are emerging that go beyond the five suspended special education employees and even their Riverview school.

It is unclear if the workers, who earn as little as $11,000 a year and are now on paid leave, were trained in how to react when a student goes missing.

One told Hillsborough sheriff's deputies he was behind the building, smoking, when he learned 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, who had Down syndrome, had walked out of gym class.

Nor is it clear why administrators did not act on a coach's earlier complaint that the exceptional student education (ESE) aides who were supposed to help the students watched them from the bleachers instead.

A 700-page Sheriff's Office report issued Tuesday describes a chaotic situation on Oct. 22 that only worsened when Jennifer disappeared and was eventually discovered, drowned, in retention pond.

One of the physical education teachers was absent. More than 100 students were in the gym.

One of the aides, Catherine Seely, had to escort a child to the office. Because of that, she has not been placed on leave.

Confusion ensued when Gawrych and the other aides realized Jennifer had gone.

Principal Sharon Tumicki already was dealing with a 911 emergency stemming from a child's food allergy.

Hearing about Jennifer, she tried to get everyone in place.

As assistant principal Shawn Livingston described it, "The procedure is all hands on deck." Teachers searched their classrooms while administrators divided the campus into zones.

But those aides who were questioned about protocol could not describe any.

"I haven't had training to do nothing," said Micaela Scipio. "Well like ... not like formal or anything."

Patricia Tobin, one of the aides assigned to Jennifer, said, "There are trainings you can sign up for ... certain little policies."

The deputy asked her, repeatedly, what steps she was supposed to take if a child was missing.

"I do not remember that," she said.

Tumicki declined to comment.

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