School District Settles for $2 Million and Apologizes

The Kent (Wa.) Unified School District is out $2 million and is publicly apologizing after agreeing to settle a lawsuit stemming from a glass-related incident at one of its schools that nearly resulted in the death of a student more than five years ago.

School officials declined comment when reached Wednesday afternoon.

Sources close to the situation say the deal ends a suit brought against the school district for negligence following a December 2007 mishap in which a then- 15-year-old high school student fell while climbing atop a stack of rolled up wrestling mats. The young man nearly bled to death after careening into the nearby wired glass and nearly severing off his entire arm.

He lived, but has endured extensive medical procedures in the years since with little chance of ever regaining full use of his arm ever again, the source says.

The unnamed student later filed suit against the school district, saying school officials should have been aware of the inherent danger and removed it from close proximity of their students.

School attorneys argued that they were not liable since the student and his parents had signed a waiver absolving them of responsibility should anything unexpected happen in an extracurricular activity.

The case has struck a personal chord for Glass safety activist Greg Abel, a former law enforcement officer whose own son was seriously injured while exiting a University of Oregon sporting complex in 2001.

It appeared as if it would be left up to a court to decide the matter, but school officials had a change of heart a month prior to the trial’s scheduled start.

Some experts have estimated that 90 percent of the 2,500 annual glass injuries at school facilities to kids aged K-12 are from wire glass.

Abel remained hopeful that something good will come out of the latest tragic accident.

“It just drives me crazy,” Abel says. “The problem is there. [School officials] know it’s there. They need to do something about it.”

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