Commitment Precision & Results - Jacksonville, Florida

Mom blames Duval schools for son's death

By Paul Pinkham
Story updated at 9:07 AM on Tuesday, Sep. 22, 2009

If the school nurse had just called 911 a year ago, Kathy Williams believes her 12-year-old boy, Teddy, who suffered from hydrocephalus, would still be alive.

Instead, the single Jacksonville mom is left to grieve her youngest son and wonder why more than two hours passed before help was sought after the boy's teacher told the nurse she feared his head might be swelling.

By the time rescue workers were called to Duval County Public Schools' Mount Herman Exceptional Student Center, his shunt had filled with fluid and he was brain dead, Williams said.

He died the next day from spinal fluid in his brain.

"They took my baby away from me," Williams said Monday.

Now, Williams has filed notice at City Hall, threatening to sue Duval County schools and agreeing to settle her claim for $100,000, the statutory maximum when suing a public entity. Notices are required in Florida six months before suing a state or municipal agency like the School Board.

The school system would not comment on the case because of the pending litigation, said Jill Johnson, the district's spokeswoman.

Williams said her son was fine when he left home Sept. 16, 2008, but began complaining of a headache shortly after arriving at school. She said a nurse at Mount Herman knew of his medical history but let too much time pass before she called for help.

Williams' attorney, Stephanie Hartley, said she hopes to settle the case quickly so Williams doesn't have to endure the further anguish of a trial or extended litigation.

She said the boy would definitely have lived if school officials had called 911 immediately.

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