Los Angeles

Parents of Special Needs Student Who Drowned File Lawsuit Against LAUSD

The parents of a special needs student who drowned during a class field trip in East Los Angeles in June announced a lawsuit Thursday that claims the school district was negligent.

Erick Ortiz, 16, either fell or was pushed into the pool at Atlantic Park on June 4. The autistic teen was taken to a hospital where he died.

"The family told the school district that Erick does not know how to swim," said the family's attorney, Luis Carrillo. "Why would they let him be alone in the swimming pool when they knew he did not know how to swim?"

In the days following Ortiz’s drowning, his family questioned why no one from the Los Angeles Unified School District was with the teen when entered the pool.

"(Erick) went in with all of his clothes on, you know with his shoes on, this is not (how) somebody that’s prepared to go swimming goes into the pool, right?" Erick's sister Leslie Ortiz said.

Leslie Ortiz said that a teaching assistant was assigned exclusively to her brother and that it was his job to be with Erick at all times.

"That was his one job, to watch him. Where was he? My brother couldn’t even go to the bathroom alone, the assistant had to go with him," Leslie Ortiz said.

The mother and father of Ortiz claim that the school district was negligent in caring for their son, their lawyer said in a statement.

“The LAUSD knew that the child could not be left alone for even a second and the child had a full time Teaching Assistant assigned to him since 2012,” Luis Carrillo said.

The LAUSD issued a statement one day after Ortiz’s death.

"The District extends heartfelt condolences to the family on its tragic loss. The District will continue to cooperate with the ongoing law enforcement investigation. Crisis counselors are on site to help the school community. We will have no further comment at this time."

Contact Us