MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The parents of an 11-year-old girl who nearly drowned in a Minneapolis school swimming pool say they didn't know their daughter was taking swimming lessons as part of her physical education class.
Maynard and Thyzena Williams have hired an attorney and are questioning why officials at Franklin Middle School allowed their daughter, Antoinette, to take the class when she can't swim.
The class included 35 students of varying ability levels.
"We're looking for answers," said attorney Peter Riley. He said the Williams family wants to "to try to see that something like this doesn't happen again."
The district, which is conducting its own investigation, says copies of the school's student handbook were sent home with students at the beginning of the school year. The handbook states that swimming is part of the sixth-grade physical-education program.
However, the Williams family just moved to Minneapolis from Milwaukee and Antoinette started at Franklin two days before the accident. Riley said her parents don't remember getting a handbook.
"They were not aware that she was going to be swimming. The least effective way to communicate with a parent is to hand something to an 11-year-old," he said.
The family also questions whether the class was properly supervised. The class was taught by Jesse Thomas, an experienced swimmer who is trained in water-safety instruction.
School officials say the girl was hurt when she jumped into the deep end of the pool at the end of her class Wednesday afternoon. Classmates saw her face-down in 10 feet of water and alerted Thomas, who said he was at the other end of the pool handing towels to students. He pulled her out of the water and revived her.
Kim Mesun, the school district's assistant general counsel, said a general rule that schools use in teaching swimming is: "In the swimming pool, the student should be supervised at all times." Franklin's pool rules also require students to swim in the area of the pool best suited to their abilities.
Antoinette was in serious condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. Riley said she was on a respirator with one of her lungs partially collapsed.
"No one's been able to communicate with her at all since this occurred," he said, but he noted that the Williamses had been encouraged by her ability to squeeze fingers placed in her hand.
"It's every parent's nightmare," Riley said.
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