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Parents of teen who drowned in SRVHS pool sue school district, teacher

Original post made on Nov 27, 2018

The family of 15-year-old Ben Curry, who drowned during class in the San Ramon Valley High School pool in early May, has officially filed a lawsuit against the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, claiming negligence and willful misconduct resulted in the freshman's death.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 3:43 PM

Comments (27)

80 people like this
Posted by Motherof2
a resident of Danville
on Nov 27, 2018 at 7:15 pm

May Ben’s beautiful soul rest in eternal peace.

And may Aaron Becker get the sense that teaching PE/watching students isn’t his gig. To say the least.

70 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Danville
on Nov 27, 2018 at 7:58 pm

No surprise. They have every right to seek a full investigation-- if there was gross negligence and breach of duty. The teacher's number one duty was safety - over teaching.

I would be so devastated if this was my son or daughter. Couldn't even imagine.

I think of his family daily...while sitting at a SRVHS football thinking of how beyond weird it is, this teacher is allowed to coach....while his friends and family are grieving. Grief doesn't just's constant pain.

And does one's life mean any less, if you're not a football player or cheerleader? Imagine if a football player died during a practice....would people have turned around and called it an accident? rumor of suicide? And coach continued coaching?

Are teachers at SRVHS held to any employment standard of conduct?

68 people like this
Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Nov 28, 2018 at 6:42 am

mrszalewski2 is a registered user.

As the facts in this case come to light, they are simply more and more appalling. My thoughts are with the Curry family. They are enduring something no family should have to go through.Although nothing can bring their beloved son back, I am glad the community is rallying around them with the online petition. No sweeping this under the rug as is common in our town. I hope it brings the Curry family some measure of comfort knowing how many people are behind them.

69 people like this
Posted by Grandparent
a resident of Danville
on Nov 28, 2018 at 8:53 am

Rick Schmitt needs to be terminated. As leader of the SRVUSD he is a total failure. If the school board can’t see that, then they need to be recalled. Obviously Aarron Becker should not be allowed to be anywhere near students.
The facts are pretty clear. The district had prior warnings of a preventable tragedy. Becker was derelict in his job. The district has horribly handled the whole tragedy. The burden of accountability continues to fall upon the Curry family.
Now Becker has a high price attorney advising him. Coincidentally his attorney’s spouse was a former school board member. Who’s paying that bill?
The Curry family needs the support of the community to get the closure they deserve. My question is how does that ever happen unless those responsible are held accountable.
Healing will never begin until superintendent Schmitt and teacher Becker are no longer a part of the SRVUSD district.

22 people like this
Posted by Frances B. Davism
a resident of Alamo
on Nov 28, 2018 at 9:59 am

My heart goes out to the Curry family. While swimming in the Fresno State pool 33 years ago, my daughter fainted. A friend finally found her. The life guard was reading a book. She lived but was hospitalized for weeks, had to learn to read and write etc. All over again and still has some deficits. We were lucky.

52 people like this
Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Nov 28, 2018 at 10:46 am

mrszalewski2 is a registered user.

@ grandparent. Nothing surprises me with this corrupt school district. All our beginning of the year donations are probably paying for their legal fees.

59 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Nov 28, 2018 at 1:01 pm

Heartbreaking. Becker should no longer be allowed to teach, coach or work with any children for the rest of his life. At the very least, put Becker on leave until this lawsuit finishes in court. And with this information, there SHOULD be criminal charges against Becker from the Danville Police. Expired lifeguard certification while overseeing this unnecessary 9th grade PE Swim Unit, looking at his cell phone while FIFTY SEVEN kids are in a pool (verified by video surveillance) and you are the only adult present whose job is to safeguard these students. (Swim units are not even required for 9th grade PE, which IS required for all 9th graders, with few exceptions.) A child has died, obviously because of gross negligence. (Telling the class if they grab the rope at the end of a class while treading water they have to do an extra 30 seconds of water treading - was this SRVH Pool Boot Camp??? Kids at this stage of life get easily embarrassed and are afraid to look weak. It’s the most awkward stage of life and teachers know this. Becker took advantage of this knowledge by pushing this class in an irresponsible/negligent way and abused power.) And the SRVUSD School Board has had no consequences for Becker, the SRVUSD principal, or Superintendent Schmitt, all responsible for the safety of our children when we send them to school. Too painful to hear about this tragic, unnecessary death and more painful to see how horribly this district has handled this. I can’t imagine the pain and frustration the Curry family is enduring. But I thank them for pursuing this lawsuit, as emotionally difficult as it must be, on behalf of all children attending SRVUSD and my own 9th grader who fortunately doesn’t have to have an unsupervised, required 9th grade PE Swim Unit until lifeguards are properly hired now and present. Thank you Curry family and my condolences.

30 people like this
Posted by srvh- not a fan
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Nov 28, 2018 at 3:26 pm

We've had so many issues with this school. Negligent teachers, counselors who don't care about our students.....and now this. Not surprised.

My son/daughter says he/she sits in class with bully athletes and pom girls...making fun of anyone who isn't in sports. Teachers actually allow it to happen. Make fun of people's accents, differences, etc.

The school doesn't give a crap about anything besides football. We heard the football team has three times per week dinners gathering to pat each others backs on how awesome they are that they play football.

I'd love to hear about the students who get into great college NOT because of football, water polo or sports.The art, music, science students.

This teacher was probably working on his phone planning football strategy during his PE class. All ok by this administration.

3 people like this
Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Nov 28, 2018 at 3:35 pm

mrszalewski2 is a registered user.

And the fifth period PE teacher, Ms Libby, is another bright bulb. She had to be informed by a student that there was someone on the bottom of the pool. And to think these morons are supposedly educating our children...

47 people like this
Posted by SRV Parent
a resident of Danville
on Nov 28, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Just saw this editorial:
Web Link

I am not connected to this web site in any way. But plan to support their attempt to get to the truth. Maybe a go fund is in order to help hire the lawyers to get to the truth.

The stonewall is also being done by parents that are protecting Aaron Becker and SRVUSD. Typical response to any facts is that it is not true and stop talking about the death of Ben Curry. Silence is always a benefit to the guilty. The community deserves full disclosure and I know that is what Ben's family wants and deserves.

61 people like this
Posted by SRV Parent
a resident of Danville
on Nov 29, 2018 at 6:07 am

Becker's Lawyer stated “This is not because he doesn’t care. He is traumatized by what happened to Ben Curry,” Gagen said Tuesday. How does a traumatized person show up the next day at work and continue on as if nothing happened? Aaron Becker did not care that he was responsible for the death of a child. SRVUSD has shown that they did not care that he was responsible for the death of a child.

Ben's father told me when I hugged him at the vigil that he was dying. That is grief you feel you can not go on. You do not go to work the next day. Aaron Becker is paid to protect our kids and instead he walked away as Ben was drowning.

12 people like this
Posted by SRVParent
a resident of Danville
on Nov 29, 2018 at 7:27 am

I hate to shout but the comments above related to this incredibly sad story are symptoms resulting from our children being "taught" by unionized teachers who have no risk of being fired. It's preposterous and outrageous that we don't require higher standards for the education of our children.

48 people like this
Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Nov 29, 2018 at 8:04 am

mrszalewski2 is a registered user.

@SRVParent. I agree that the California Teacher’s Association is a strong union and has many safeguards in place for a tenured teacher. I am a member of the CNA (California Nurses Association) and have been a representative. There are policies in place for investigatory leave. Why they aren’t being followed with Aaron Becker is the one of the mysteries of this tragedy. As information becomes available, the handling of this tragedy becomes more and more ludicrous.

52 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Danville
on Nov 29, 2018 at 3:19 pm

This will sound strange given my children are in the SRV School District...but I hope the Curry's Bankrupt the district and the 'Coach.'

50 people like this
Posted by Parent SRV high
a resident of Danville
on Nov 29, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Please sign the petition it helps to show support for the Curry's.
Web Link

Please pass link to all your friends who are in support of having the district fire Aaron Becker.

The community needs to start thinking of ways to force SRVUSD to fire Aaron Becker. Such as no more money to SRVUSD schools during registration. When they ask for the money the response should be "Ben Curry". Tell any sponsors of SRV High Football that you will not be spending money at their business until Aaron Becker is removed. Such as "Maria Maria", "Coffee Shop" , "Basque Boulangerie", "All Gear", "Danville Brewing Co", "The Kehrig Team Pacific Union", and the "Ram Properties".

The SRV High football community needs to support the drive to fire Aaron Becker. A coach is a role model to the young men. If you are silent you are in support of a man that believes a cell phone demands more attention than 57 students in a pool.

41 people like this
Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Nov 30, 2018 at 8:34 am

mrszalewski2 is a registered user.

I agree with Parent SRV High. Hit them where it hurts. No more donations and no more patronizing establishments that support SRVHS until the state comes in and “cleans house” at SRVHS and at the district offices. As parents and tax payers, we have collective power to evoke the needed changes.

23 people like this
Posted by RajSingh
a resident of Blackhawk
on Nov 30, 2018 at 9:13 am

I agree with many sentiments here. I think Aaron Becker, should at minimum be disallowed from teaching PE and Coaching Football. He has proven to not be fit to watch out for the safety of kids he is responsible for. A death at his hands should be enough conduct to enforce a suspension. The district and the school needs to show some sort of remorse for their negligence and act accordingly. But there must be some more facts present, 57 kids in a class, and not one of the 56 noticed a student go under? I dont know the depth of the pool, but it is not hard to see a human being at the bottom, especially when everyone is out. One last survey at the end of class could have prevented this. Becker could have been on his phone to check the time, or as he was stop watching the water treading, we need to know how long he was on the phone, was he facing the class, could he see Ben. We also need statements from the other classmates about Ben's swimming. Was he not a good swimmer, could they see this happening based on previous classes. This was May, so they must have seen signs of Ben's stamina in other PE activities. All these are facts that can lead to less or more negligence on the part of the Teacher. Its an unfortunate situation, but there are definitely more answers that can help clear some culpability. The school and district must enforce new rules so that this never ever happens again, and the Curry's need to be compensated for their loss. The school and football team needs to dedicated all its profits and have fund raisers for the Currys period.

35 people like this
Posted by Alum
a resident of Danville
on Dec 4, 2018 at 3:36 pm

I played football at SRVHS and beyond. Lets not bash the team or program just because of Becker. I can guarantee Becker's not exactly the most popular guy on that team. With that said, our coach and PE teacher at my time would have lied down in traffic for any kid at the school. No matter if they played a sport or not. Becker gives a bad name to sports, teachers, SRV High School and many other good people. It's sickening.

It's too late for Becker or some board members to gracefully leave. Now it's time for ugly court battles and hopefully the loss of many livelihoods. People that shouldn't be teaching or managing a newspaper stand. Let alone a school district. I'm praying for the Curry family.

26 people like this
Posted by Parent SRV High
a resident of Danville
on Dec 5, 2018 at 6:12 am

Fit excellent swimmers drown that is why the Olympics has life guards. The solution for drowning is life guards. In the early 1900s 4000 people a year drowned today around 3,500 with a population going for 76 to 326 million in the USA. The main reason is life guards they rescue approx. 1 million people a year.

The school would like to blame the victim but anyone can have a problem in the water even Olympic swimmers.

31 people like this
Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Dec 5, 2018 at 6:23 am

mrszalewski2 is a registered user.

@Parent SRV High - very true. Whether Ben had the swimming ability of Michael Phelps or was a beginner, it was Becker’s/SRVHS/ the district ‘s duty to keep him safe while he was participating in a school sponsored activity.

19 people like this
Posted by Danville Mom
a resident of Del Amigo Continuation High School
on Dec 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Those of you unhappy with SRV should maybe consider sending your students to Del Amigo instead. It is a small campus, with attentive, caring, brilliant teachers who treat all students with compassion and support them through school. It is not the drug-fueled, bad kid school that it is perceived as. The other high school build that reputation trying to keep the kids in their schools. Trust me, kid thrive at Del Amigo and those are the most compassionate teachers you will ever find.

17 people like this
Posted by SRV Parent
a resident of Danville
on Dec 7, 2018 at 6:13 am

"Trial begins for assistant swim coach accused of ignoring a child while she drowned "

Aaron Becker is more negligent than a coach who is on trial in Texas. Difference is the coach in Texas was not the varsity football coach.
Web Link

16 people like this
Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Dec 7, 2018 at 7:58 am

mrszalewski2 is a registered user.

With the trial of the coach in Texas preceding the Curry trial, it may give attorney Schwartz additional recent case law to be used at trial. Does anyone know the name of the attorney the district is using ? Or the name of their insurance carrier?

23 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2018 at 11:25 am

SRV Parent,
After reading the article about the drowning in Texas. I realize that Aaron Becker should count his blessings that Ben's family is not pressing for criminal charges. The negligence of Aaron Becker far exceeds the level of negligence of the coach in Texas. The coach in Texas did not walk away from a pool with a drowning kid in it.

SRVUSD act now to fire Aaron Becker. His behavior was "abandonment and endangering of a child by criminal negligence". This is a direct quote from the article of the criminal charges facing the coach in Texas.

19 people like this
Posted by SRV Parent
a resident of Danville
on Dec 8, 2018 at 8:08 am

The swim coach in Texas was found guilty.

"A Tarrant County jury convicted Tracey Anne Boyd, 51, on Friday of abandoning or endangering a child through criminal negligence and sentenced her to three years of probation. She had faced up to two years in state jail."

Good luck Aaron Becker in a civil case but be aware with the deep dive of the facts by Curry's lawyer it could expose a criminal case.

Like this comment
Posted by grateful4
a resident of Danville
20 hours ago

grateful4 is a registered user.

Becker's football team just won the NCS Championship... This will muddy the already murky waters...

9 people like this
Posted by Tim
a resident of another community
13 hours ago

What Aaron Becker did is a crime in Texas. But in Danville California he earns the right to lead a team of young men to the NCS Championship. Shame on you Danville California. Your morals are bankrupt with the continuing sanctioning of "abandonment and endangering of a child by criminal negligence".

To the players of the team welcome to the ranks of the pawns in a power trip by Aaron Becker and SRVUSD. You can now be proud that you are active participants in the ongoing abuse of Ben Curry's family. When your leader (Aaron Becker) is of low moral character and you do not raise your voice you are also of low moral character.

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