MOORE, Okla. (AP) - A suburban Oklahoma City school system and its insurer have agreed to pay about $14,000 to each of the families of seven children who died four years ago when their school was destroyed by a tornado.
The deal, announced by Moore Public Schools in a statement Monday, settles allegations in lawsuits filed in 2014 by families of the children killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School on May 20, 2013.
No further details were released about the agreement.
The families’ lawsuits alleged that the classroom addition where the children died was defectively built and that the school failed to follow safety protocols.
“Throughout litigation it became evident that our emergency procedures were proper and correctly followed,” the district’s statement says. “Over the past three years our families, employees and community members had been called upon to relive the details of this tragedy due to litigation. Settlement will put an end to the lawsuits and hopefully bring the next chapter of healing.”
Moore Public Schools Superintendent Robert Romines said Tuesday that the community will always remember the students who died but that the school district and other litigants believed it was time to put the lawsuits behind them.
“We all came to an agreement. We feel like that’s something that we need to move forward on,” Romines said.
An attorney for the school district, Phyllis Walta, declined comment on the settlement.
Danni Legg, whose son, 9-year-old Christopher Legg, died at Plaza Towers, was one of the parents who sued the school district. Her attorneys, Randall Calvert and Andrew Davis, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
A total of 24 people were killed and 377 people were injured by the tornado that was rated at EF5 - the most severe on the National Weather Service scale. The tornado tore through a 17-mile long path before it finally dissipated, causing billions of dollars in damage and destroying or damaging more than 1,000 homes.
Most schools in the district didn’t have safe rooms when the 2013 tornado hit. Since then, the district has built safe rooms using grants, donations and other funds.
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