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Staunton family challenge accreditation of Jackson Heights private school, claim the school failed to investigate circumstances behind their son’s death and withheld vital information

Rory and Ciaran Staunton (source: Pat Dorfman)

June 13, 2017 By Jason Cohen

The family of 12-year-old Sunnyside boy who died from sepsis while a student at a Jackson Heights private school five years ago is challenging the accreditation of the school.

Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, parents of the late Rory Staunton, have filed a formal complaint with the New York Association of Independent Schools challenging the accreditation of the Garden School.

They claim that the school failed to conduct a proper investigation as to what took place leading up to their son’s untimely death; failed to disclose the circumstances involved; and also have not taken any steps to ensure that a case like it doesn’t happen again.

The school did not respond to repeated phone calls.

On March 27, 2012, Rory Staunton cut his elbow playing basketball at school. The wound, according to his parents, reopened the following day and his gym teacher applied band aids without washing the cut. Rory was not sent to the school nurse and his parents were not informed, according to the Stauntons.

The school did not have protocols in place, the Stauntons said, to ensure that cuts were treated properly and the staff was not made aware of the potential dangers of these types of wounds. Following Rory’s death, the Staunton’s claim that the school refused to provide any information to the family about Rory’s last days in school.

Ciaran Staunton said the family’s decision to challenge the school’s accreditation is a necessary step in honoring his son’s memory. “At every step of this very painful journey that began the day Rory returned home from Garden School with a scraped elbow, our primary goal has been to do everything we can to avoid another family suffering the untimely and unnecessary loss of a family member due to sepsis,” he said.

The family had filed suit against the school but have dropped the case, Ciaran Staunton said. The primary reason, he said, was because the New York Association of Independent Schools will not consider an accreditation challenge while a complaining party maintains a lawsuit against a member school.

“We wish to stress that we were offered settlements which would have meant we could not speak out and we have refused to accept them. It has become clear to Orlaith and me that external pressure to acknowledge and improve the school environment in these important areas is needed. Garden School regrettably is unwilling to change or even acknowledge its failings.”

The Staunton’s lawyer, Thomas Moore, expressed displeasure with the school. “It became obvious during the pretrial testimony that the school was grossly negligent in its treatment of Rory,” Moore said in a statement. “This was followed by a deliberate and orchestrated effort to cover up the circumstances of Rory’s fall. Surely, parents who entrust, in part, the education and nurturing of their children to others are entitled to better.”

Following Rory’s passing, the Stauntons founded the Rory Staunton Foundation to promote education, awareness and rapid diagnosis of sepsis. In 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law Rory’s Regulations, making New York the first state in the country to require that hospitals have protocols to quickly screen and treat patients who may have sepsis.

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