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Philadelphia School District Sued Over Girl's Asthma Death

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The family of a girl who died of an asthma attack after attending a public school without a nurse has sued the Philadelphia School District.

The wrongful-death lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court, said that 12-year-old Laporshia Massey remained at school despite complaining late in the day about breathing problems. She was driven home after school by a staff member Sept. 25, 2013, and died later that day, the lawsuit said.

Bryant Elementary School officials should have called 911, especially with no nurse on duty, lawyer Michael Pomerantz said. The West Philadelphia school had a nurse just two days a week.

"They have a phone there. ... Call 911. Play it safe, especially when you know there's no one else on the school grounds who was able to assess the situation," said Pomerantz, who filed the suit on behalf of the girl's estate.

Students were not allowed to use inhalers or take medicine without a nurse present at Bryant, so Laporshia apparently did not try to use her inhaler at school, the lawsuit said.

A school district spokesman did not immediately return a message Wednesday. The district, which reopens for students on Monday, does not typically comment on pending litigation.

Laporshia's father, Daniel Burch, has said the family got two calls about their daughter, but neither sounded urgent. In an interview last year, he said she was the big sister to his two sons, who also have asthma.

Burch described her interests as typical for a sixth-grade girl: "Fashion, clothes, nails, drawing, writing."

Laporshia was taken to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia just after 6 p.m., and died within the hour, Pomerantz said.

The civil rights lawsuit seeks more than $150,000 in damages.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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