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School Superintendent to Speak on Death of Rodgers Middle School Student

Superintendent MaryEllen Elia is expected to recommend disciplinary action for Rodgers employees in the death of 11-year-old Jenny Caballero.

Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia has called a press conference for 2:30 p.m. today where she is expected to discuss disciplinary action in the death of a Rodgers Middle School student in October.

The press conference comes after an extensive investigation into how 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, a special-needs student with Down syndrome, managed to leave the Riverview school's gymnasium under the supervision of a teacher and five aides on Oct. 22.

The body of the little girl was later found in a nearby pond.

The death prompted protests calling for better training of school personnel and increased supervision of special-needs students in Hillsborough County schools.

At the press conference, Elia will release the findings of the investigation and review disciplinary actions for the five aides who were suspended following the little girl's death.

After its own investigation, the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office ruled that no criminal charges were warranted in the case.

However, in the weeks following Jenny's death, parents of special-needs students in Hillsborough County have come forth to question the school district's policy regarding supervision.

Among them is Riverview resident Kristina M Caraballo, mother of Xianna, a student with Down syndrome who attended both Rodgers Middle School and East Bay High School.

"I wasn't surprised to hear about this tragedy," said Caraballo. "I had actually warned the school district numerous times about the possibility of this happening. I warned them, and it happened. It's unbelievable."

Carabello said she specificially complained about bullying and lack of supervision at Rodgers Middle School.

"It should have been a red flag for a serious situation," she said. "It is so unfortunate that a child has died in this manner. It's inexcusable."

Related content:

Answers Sought in Death of Rodgers Middle School Student

Body of Missing Riverview Girl Found in Pond

Protesters Hold School Board Accountable for Deaths of Students

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