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Fifth-grader who suffered frostbite in gym class gets $10,000 settlement

On a day when the high temperature reached 2 degrees, the fifth-graders in a Douglas J. Regan Intermediate School gym class went outside to go snowshoeing on Feb. 12, 2015.

One of the students came back with a mild case of frostbite.

"You send your kid to school thinking they're going to be safe and supervised, and I get a call saying I have to get him and take him to the doctor's because he's got frostbite," said Jennifer Bars of Pendleton,  the student's mother.

Now, the Starpoint Central School District has settled her claim for $10,000.

Bars said her 10-year-old son fell in the snow during the outing.

"He got snow in his glove and he couldn't catch up to a teacher to tell him, because he had these big tennis rackets on his feet," Bars said.

Another boy helped him up, but he wasn't able to tell the teacher what happened until they were re-entering the school, Bars said. Her son was sent immediately to see the school nurse.

Barr said she was called to the Pendleton school and advised to seek medical attention. The boy was diagnosed with a minor case of frostbite on his right hand and fingers.

Bars said the wind chill that day was minus-14.

"I believe they snowshoed in the past, but in weather that cold, they shouldn't have been outside," Bars said.

"It was a mild case of frostbite, but still, his hand got swollen, Bars said. "The next day, they closed school because it was so cold, and then they had a week off for winter break, so he had time to recover."

Although the skin healed, Bars said her son will have extra sensitivity to heat and cold on his right hand for the rest of his life.

"He does have to wear two gloves in the winter," Bars said.

That's because of permanent nerve damage.

Andrew D. Fanizzi of Niagara Falls, the attorney for Bars, filed settlement papers this week in the Niagara County Clerk's Office. Starpoint has agreed to pay $10,000 to settle the mother's damage claim against the district.

Jonathan R. Andrews, Starpoint director of administrative services, said the $10,000 will be paid by the district's insurance company.

"No money came out of the Starpoint district for that. Because this is a legal matter, there's no way I can comment," Andrews said.

The district's attorney, Louis B. Dingeldey Jr., also declined to comment.

Bars said she doesn't know if anyone on the Starpoint staff was disciplined as a result of the incident.

"Any disciplinary matter of any school district employees would be confidential, and I'm not saying there was or there was not," Andrews said.

After a one-third share for Fanizzi's law firm and the deduction of court costs, the remaining $6,342 will be deposited in an interest-bearing bank account the boy can access when he turns 21, according to court records.

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