BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County Public Schools has agreed to a $2.5 million settlement with the family of Bowen Levy, a 17-year-old student at Central Special School who died in 2019 after choking on a rubber glove, the school system said Thursday.

In a lengthy statement, Board of Education president Joanna Tobin and Superintendent of Schools George Arlotto said the needs of Levy, who was autistic and suffered from Pica, a disorder that involves compulsively eating non-food items, were known to school staff. He had been under the care of the school system since age 3.

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“Bowen’s death has had an enormous impact on many, but nowhere has that impact been more massive than on his beloved family,” they wrote. “We recognize that nothing that occurs from here forward will ever fill the void in their lives.”

Following an investigation, the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services found “neglect” led to Levy’s death, part of a “systemic failure at Central Special School.”

On the day he died, Nov. 5, 2019, Levy’s classroom was “understaffed,” Tobin and Arlotto said, with the teacher on leave for the afternoon and two Temporary Support Assistants who normally watched Levy in another part of the building. A third assistant was absent.

A substitute teacher permanently employed at the school was serving as teacher that day, helped by two two high school student volunteers.

Earlier in the day, a staffer had taken a glove from Levy’s mouth, what Tobin and Arlotto described as a “life-threatening event.”

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But the gloves, which staff members in special centers need throughout the day, remained accessible to Levy, they said.

Levy began to choke on a glove about 3:10 p.m. and was taken by the substitute to the school health office. Staff called 911 and Levy was transported to Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Levy was later moved to Johns Hopkins Hospital, but five days after the incident, he died. He had been deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes, Tobin and Arlotto said.

Following Levy’s death, the school system hired an additional 32 staffers at its three developmental centers, including 11 permanent substitutes, 12 teaching assistants and nine teachers, the administrators said.

As part of the settlement, Anne Arundel County Public Schools is entering a consent decree with the Levy family to implement a Pica Safety Protocol that includes guidelines for staffing and securing classrooms.

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“Our school system takes the Department of Social Service’s finding of neglect extremely seriously,” Tobin and Arlotto wrote. “We have worked diligently since November 5, 2019, to make changes and institute reforms designed to prevent such tragic accidents from ever occurring again.”

Brandon Weigel