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Yucaipa School District reaches $15.75-million settlement in student’s death from asthma attack

Adilene Carrasco holds red flower petals in her hands.
Adilene Carrasco, 13, a Mesa View Middle School student, died after she suffered an asthma attack on campus while she was walking with her science class to the school’s athletic field for a class project.
(Robert Glassman)
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A San Bernardino County school district settled a lawsuit this week for $15.75 million with the family of a middle school student who died in 2019 after suffering an asthma attack on campus, officials said.

Adilene Carrasco, 13, a Mesa View Middle School student, began experiencing difficulty breathing while walking with her science class to the school’s athletic field for a class project on Oct. 31, 2019, according to the lawsuit filed against the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District in August. The suit was filed in August of this year.

Adilene had a history of asthma attacks and in the months leading up to her death, had two attacks documented in the school’s electronic database, according to the lawsuit and her family’s attorney.

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“Adilene’s death was a preventable tragedy that resonates and reaffirms the fear of every parent and caregiver of an asthmatic child,” the family’s attorney Robert Glassman said in a news release. “Asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism and the number one reason school-age children go [to] the emergency room.”

The school district didn’t immediately respond to a request for information.

Attorneys for Adilene’s family accused the school district of being negligent in assessing and addressing her asthma, not training their staff on best practices to handle medical conditions and attempting to deflect blame by claiming Adilene could have died from an allergic reaction.

On the day of her attack, Adilene asked her teacher if she could go back to the classroom to get the inhaler in her backpack and that instead of asking Adilene if she felt well enough to walk more than 360 yards back to the classroom, the teacher asked another student to accompany her, according to the lawsuit.

Adilene used her inhaler but didn’t feel any better and went back to her teacher to ask if she could go to the nurse. Her teacher, instead of sending an adult to accompany Adilene to the nurse’s office, as outlined in district protocol, sent another student with her, according to the lawsuit.

Adilene’s friend said that her condition got progressively worse as they walked to the nurse’s office and that she “could barely stand or respond” to questions, the suit states. A campus monitor, who was in a golf cart, saw Adilene’s condition and drove her the rest of the way to the nurse’s office.

“She was — well, at a certain point, she couldn’t stand on her own and had to be supported,” Adilene’s classmate was quoted saying in the lawsuit. “She was breathing very hard in a way, like, gasping almost for air, and her voice wasn’t clear in a way, if that’s a good way to describe it.”

The school nurse saw Adilene had begun exhibiting symptoms of a seizure and he started administering CPR; paramedics were called and transported her to the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital, where she remained unresponsive, according to the lawsuit. Adilene was transported to the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, where she was declared brain dead on Nov. 9, 2019.

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As part of the settlement, the district has agreed to adopt the California School Board Assn.’s best practices on asthma management, work with asthma medical experts to provide asthma management training to staff and teachers and to make changes to its safety protocols regarding students with medical conditions.

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