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Parents of Slain Student File Negligence Claim Against School District : Simi Valley: The couple allege that officials knew of threats but failed to protect their son from a schoolmate.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The parents of slain student Chad Hubbard have filed a $2-million wrongful-death claim, alleging that the Simi Valley Unified School District and employees negligently let a classmate stab their son to death last winter.

Scott and Jackie Hubbard allege that the district failed to protect their 14-year-old son from schoolmate Phillip Hernandez, who killed him in a fight in February at Valley View Junior High School.

Chad Hubbard, a ninth-grader and member of the school’s baseball team, had a running feud with Hernandez for several weeks before his death, witnesses testified at Hernandez’s trial.

On the afternoon of Feb. 1, witnesses testified, Chad hounded Hernandez as he walked to his bus stop after classes.

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Attorneys on both sides agreed at trial that Chad had insisted on fighting and finally punched Hernandez at least once before Hernandez stabbed him once in the chest.

Hernandez, 14, was sentenced last week to four years in a California Youth Authority prison for involuntary manslaughter.

“I just feel the reason my son is gone is because of their negligence,” Scott Hubbard said Tuesday. The district knew of the conflict between the two boys, but never told the Hubbards, he said.

“I feel if they would have let us know about the problem with Chad and Phillip, we could have talked to Chad and the problem could have been solved,” he said. “Chad listened to us. . . . They never, ever, ever called us.”

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The claim filed against the school district and co-defendant Ventura County last month alleges that Valley View staff knew or should have known that Hernandez had a knife and that he had threatened to kill Chad.

The Hubbards are seeking at least $1 million in damages from the district and $1 million more from Ventura County, since that is where the district is located, the Hubbards’ lawyer said. The parents’ claim is meant to cover funeral costs and the loss of the boy’s love and companionship to his family.

The claim charges that the district:

* Did not have adequate weapons detectors or security personnel at Valley View;

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* Failed to warn the Hubbards about threats against their son;

* Failed to protect Chad Hubbard from violence despite knowing about the alleged threats.

It also alleges that unnamed Valley View employees failed to stop Hernandez’s attack, failed to call paramedics immediately and negligently cared for Chad after he was stabbed.

The Hubbards’ claim against the district, like other such actions, is legally required before they can file a lawsuit in Ventura County Superior Court.

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School district officials are recommending that the district’s board refuse to pay the claim, said Assistant Supt. E. Leon Mattingley.

“It’s our policy not to comment on pending litigation, but we are putting it on the governing board’s agenda for Aug. 16,” Mattingley said Tuesday. “And we’re recommending, along with our claims adjuster and . . . our liability insurance carrier, that we reject it.”

The Hubbards’ claim does not make specific allegations against Ventura County. But Leighanne Lake, one of two Santa Monica attorneys representing the Hubbards, said the county was included in the suit only because the school district is located there.

Jacalyn Cohen, the county’s manager of liability actions, said officials are still evaluating the claim. “But as a simplistic point we don’t have anything to do with the school district,” she said. “So we anticipate we will reject it.”

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