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Silence of the Lambs Elementary

On the eve of the memorial anniversary of elementary student Isabella Herrera’s tragic death from a terrible school bus ride, the school board will be meeting to review the schematic design (link) for a new elementary school; a new elementary school that they are planning to name after one of their own rather than as a memorial to this child and reminder to themselves.

Student Bella Herrera’s death from respiratory failure occurred in January of 2012 on a school bus that was parked in front of a pediatric clinic while the aide and bus driver waited and did not call 911. The regular school board members claim that neither staff nor their own chairwoman Candy Olson (link) ever told them about this death for 9 months until the second drowning death of student Jenny Caballero in November of 2012. And this 9 months was during a campaign year when Jack Lamb was trying to get re-elected (link).

That’s right- the school board expects us to believe that then Chair Candy Olson, who admits she knew about the death of Bella Herrera never bothered to tell the rest of the board for 9 months. Jack Lamb who was on the board at the time of both deaths did nothing meaningful to find out why the Board Chair, Superintendent Elia, or any staff like Cathy Valdes (transportation- link) that sits in front of them at every board meeting never bothered to tell the board about the death of Bella Herrera. Had anyone taken proper action in the form of updated training and procedures after the first death it arguably could have saved the life of the second student Jenny Caballero 9 months later. Or, in other words, the failure of then Chair Candy Olson, Superintendent Elia, and all District Staff to take action arguably resulted in the death of a second child Jenny Caballero(link).

Back on September 24, 2013 item 8.07 on the Hillsborough County School Board Agenda was the naming of the new Elementary School “A”. Word on the Street was that it was a foregone conclusion that it was to be named after former Board Member Jack Lamb who recently was mercifully unseated by Cindy Stuart in the 2012 campaign. Sure enough, the audience was stacked with a parade of speakers, the majority insisting that it should be named after Jack Lamb as though it was simply a matter of who could get the most people to show up.

So when the Board finally got around to this item at 138:45 (http://sdhcwebcasts.com/index.html ) Board Member Candy Olson coyly suggested that they name the next 2 schools rather than just one- Elementary A and the next school Elementary B. Candy made it sound like it was just an afterthought for the board to go ahead and name 2 schools and get that out of the way. But it then became clear that this was no chance event; Elementary A is located in Ruskin and the people in Ruskin wanted the School named after Vince Thompson- a dedicated educator from their area- NOT Jack Lamb.

Candy Olson’s move was a calculated plan to get a school named after her buddy Jack Lamb without regard for the proper process and procedure and notification of the Public. Without regard she even stated “We’ve named (schools) without following the whole process”.  And sadly, not a one of the other board members took exception to this classic bait and switch. They probably are all hoping to have a pompous school board do likewise for them some day when it is their turn to have the obligatory school named after them.

Jack Lamb never apparently bothered to ask his buddy Candy Olson why she never told the board about the first death of Bella Herrera. And now, with some sleight of hand, Candy Olson makes sure that Jack Lamb gets a school named after him. It would be more apropos to regard the new school name as “Silence of the Lambs” Elementary as this would be a more accurate allegory of the tragic deaths of the children and the adults who failed to act for the children but don’t miss a beat when it’s time to name a school. 

An avid Patch reader wrote that they’d sent in a suggestion to have the school named Herrera Caballero Elementary School after the 2 special needs students who made the ultimate sacrifice and died at the hands of the school district just within the past 2 years. The reader noted that the name that she submitted was never included in the list presented to the board on September 24, 2013, even though the school District confirmed that they received it. Again, what the District doesn’t like they just ignore.

It is a slap in the face for the school board to name this school after themselves- after a fellow board member- who did nothing meaningful to find out why the Board Chair, Superintendent Elia, or any staff that sits in front of them at every board meeting never bothered to tell the board about the death of Bella Herrera arguably resulted in the death of a second child. Don’t let them do this to your community. The school should be named to honor the memory of those two children. The school board meeting is Tuesday January 21 at 9am. Please govern yourselves accordingly. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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