Rodgers Middle School Employees Cleared in Jennifer Caballero Drowning

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will not issue any criminal charges in the case of the 11-year-old student who drowned.

After an extensive investigation, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office closed the case surrounding the drowning of 11-year-old Rodgers Middle School student Jennifer Caballero.

And the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office has ruled that no criminal charges are warranted in the case.

On Oct. 22, shortly after 1 p.m., the little girl with Down syndrome walked out of the school gymnasium where she was being supervised in a class of 20 other special-needs students by a teacher and six aides.

After an exhaustive search by sheriff's helicopters, K-9 units and divers, Caballero's body was discovered at about 6:15 p.m. at the bottom of a nearby pond. 

Divers searching the pond found the child in water approximately 12 feet deep and approximately 20 feet from the shore line. The pond is surrounded by a 4-foot chain-link fence.

At an afternoon press conference, the Hillsborough County School District announced that it launched its own investigation.

"Obviously, this is something that we feel terrible over as a school district. I, as a superintendent, and the staff here, we cannot do anything to change what occurred but we have to do a full investigation so we can all understand this," said Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

Five aides have been removed from the classroom starting today. According to an article on TBO.com, "They will be suspended with pay pending the outcome of a probe by the Office of Professional Standards."

Answers Sought in Death of Rodgers Middle School Student

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diana benitez November 13, 2012 at 07:11 PM
the "4-foot chain-link fence", should be replaced in order to prevent this occurrance from happening again... in honor of Jennifer Caballero. lets not loose another child
Kristina Massia November 14, 2012 at 04:37 AM
I have a little girl with Down's Syndrome in Riverview. Now the investigation by Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office of Jenni's death is done. That should make us all feel better! The Aides, Teachers and other staff at Rodgers still have their jobs to go back to each day. What about Jenni? She can't go to school, walk with her mother, ride the bus or go to Church. Her parents are left with a whole in their hearts. Ask me about ESE in Hillsborough County. Policies in ESE, who benefits the most from them? Why are complaints to the Hillsborough County School Board not answered in written responses? Complaints about bullying you have to call them to get response. Injury Reports? ESE Don't ask Don't Tell refers to Violence if you don't ask they don't tell you. Why is it we are not warned of violence from other children or dangers that exists in their classroom? It seems we must always stay one step ahead of them. It is sad to say that it is hard to trust people that don't do the right thing. Blessings to Jenni and her Familia
Samantha Warden January 18, 2013 at 06:47 AM
Our government is to blame for not training the teachers that are working with these kids if the job can't be done then they need to be honest about it. Nobody should have to go through this. The government can't even answer their phones, and emails why trust them with our children. We need to look at our schools more closely if teachers are not trained this is a red flag. I'm more concerned about my childs safety than him being mainstreamed with kids who will probably judge him, and academics at this point. This should never have happened and the teachers need to lose their jobs. My heart goes out to Jenny, and her family I feel so sad about all this. The reality is these children need more than what public schools can offer.


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