WEAR report on Escambia County School District tragedy leads to more questions

WEAR TV reporter David Gonzalez interviewed Superintendent Malcolm Thomas and Martha Hanna, his health services coordinator, regarding the death of Audi Anderson, a four-year-old Pre-K student at Sherwood Elementary. According to the incident report, the child become no responsive after choking on a meatball in the school cafeteria on Sept. 19. He later died in a local hospital.

For the first time, Superintendent Thomas yesterday spoke publicly about the death. He said the District has the proper safety procedures and people trained to deal with such situations in every school.

“Teachers are always on duty in the cafeteria. If you have teacher assistants they’re also on duty. So their purpose is to watch kids as they eat,” Thomas said on camera.

The Health Services Coordinator Martha Hanna said the District spends $2 million a year to have nurses and health technicians in every school. Yesterday, Superintendent Thomas corrected a PNJ article to clarify that “every school has a health technician, but not a nurse.” (Check update at end of the post)

Was Hanna misquoted? Why would Thomas and Hanna have the same “misquote”?

She didn’t mention the $2 million is spent on a private company to provide the services.

Hanna also said that District’s schools have “close to 400 people” trained to perform CPR.” Every school has at least two staff members and the health technician trained in “CPR and first aid.” She added that every school has an Automated External Defibrillator and spends $60,000 to maintain them.

If so, who didn’t Sherwood Elementary use the AED on Anderson? According to the police report, the deputy brought his AED into the school and used it. The AED indicated that the child did not need a shock from the defibrillator.

We have checked with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. They have not closed their investigation into the death.