School district settles claim for boy’s death for $475,000

 

Parlier Unified School District has reached a civil settlement in the death of a 9-year-old student that will make it safer for students headed to school on foggy days, a lawyer said Friday.

Fresno attorney Nicholas “Butch” Wagner said Parlier Unified has agreed to pay $475,000 to the family of Diego Estrada, who was killed by an unlicensed teen driver on Jan. 29, 2015 while walking to school in dense fog.

In a wrongful death trial that took place in September in Fresno County Superior Court, Wagner argued that Parlier Unified’s long-standing policy forced Diego and other students to walk to school on foggy days even when school buses were grounded. That’s because students would have an unexcused absence if they didn't show up to school on a foggy day, Wagner told the jury.

The threat of an unexcused absence placed Diego and other children in an unsafe situation that led to him being struck by a pickup and killed, Wagner said.

In his argument, Wagner said Parlier Unified had an ulterior motive for urging children to walk to school on foggy days: the administration and school board trustees wanted to maximize state funding that is based on student attendance.

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