ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY — Bowen Levy's family has filed a wrongful death suit against the Anne Arundel County Board of Education and the principal of the Central Special School.
The Levys filed the lawsuit in the Anne Arundel Circuit Court on Monday.
Bowen, a 17-year-old Central Special student with autism and Pica, a type of eating disorder, died in November of 2019 after choking on a rubber glove while at school.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools concluded their investigation last fall. In a letter to Levy's dad, Superintendent George Arlotto asserted that "staffing in the classroom was at established levels throughout the day." The school system determined that developmental centers and their students would benefit from additional staffing, and obtained funding for 11 new positions. The school system did not take responsibility for its role in Levy's death.
The school system’s probe follows an investigation conducted by the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services, which found evidence of child neglect.
The family is suing on four counts: failure to supervise classroom, breach of contract, survival action, and wrongful death.
In the suit, the Levys say the school was understaffed during the fall of 2019 and placed the disabled children, including Bowen, at the school in "grave" risk.
Also, the suit alleges that "despite the fact that rubber gloves presented a deadly threat to children with pica, rubber gloves were readily available and unsecured throughout Central Special."
The family also claims there was a breach of contract when the Board of Education failed to provide Bowen with 1:1 supervision on November 5, 2019 during instructional time, a term they agreed upon with the board of education, among others including:
- AACPS will assign a 1:1 for Bowen for instructional purposes focusing on function skills (including, but not limited to self-help and communication skills).
- The AACPS program specialist certified as a BCBA will provide consultation/observation/modeling for the 1:1.
- Speech/language services will be increased to 3-30 minute sessions weekly.
- Occupational therapy will be increased to 30 minutes/weekly.
- AACPS will provide the recommended communication device for use in the home.
- AACPS will consult with the family's in home provider to ensure consistency in programming.
- AACPS will convene a 60 day review to review progress.
- AACPS will compensate the costs of the private evaluator attending the IEP team meeting on receipt of invoices ($937.50)
- AACPS will pay the parent's attorney a sum of $1,000.00 on receipt of invoices.
- This agreement resolves all concerns through this date of this agreement.
- The parents will and hereby do agree to withdraw their request for a due process hearing with prejudice.
The Levys are demanding a jury trial from the court.
In a statement on Wednesday to WMAR-2 News, Bob Mosier, a spokesperson with the Anne Arundel County School System stated:
"We, and especially the staff at Central Special School, continue to grieve the loss of Bowen. As this is a matter of litigation, I cannot comment further."
You can read the full lawsuit below.