2006-10-06 / Community

Parents To Sue Over BCHS Death Of Arverne Teen

By Howard Schwach

The family of Schermiela Palmer, a teenage girl who collapsed and died in front of her friends on the track at Beach Channel High School, has filed notice that it plans to sue the Department of Education for "failure to train and supervise its teachers," Stephen Drummond, one of the attorney's for the family told The Wave this week.

"She had complained to [her teachers] and they still pushed her," Drummond said. "Ultimately, this family is looking for closure and wants to insure that no other family ever has to go through what they are going through now." Palmer, a junior at the Rockaway Park school, died of cardiac arrhythmia due to a floppy Mitrial Valve, according to the city's Chief Medical Examiner. Neither the family nor the school reportedly knew of the defect prior to an autopsy.

When the overweight teen collapsed on the track on September 13, one physical education teacher reportedly started CPR while another ran to the school office for a defibrillator.

While Palmer's parents charged earlier that their daughter had failed gym last year because she could not run one lap around the 220-yard track in less than three minutes and ten seconds, Drummond refused to comment on the details of his case.

"I have learned not to litigate my cases in the media," he said. "The facts of what happened will unfold during the trial." Alicia Maxey Green, a spokesperson for the Department of Education told The Wave after the death that there was no official mandate for a student to run a specified distance in a certain period of time.

In addition, a source close to the school said that Palmer had passed her Physical Education class last year.

"The suit that we will file next Monday will not be against the teachers, but against the city [and the Department of Education] for failure to train and supervise its teachers properly," Drummond said. "The family is not looking for money. They would gladly give up all of the money they may get from this suit if they could spend one more day with their daughter."

No amount of monetary damages has been specified. A spokesperson for the city's Corporation Counsel said that it was much too early to comment on the law suit.

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