Father Sues Education Department

A father whose son died following an asthma attack at his school has filed a lawsuit against the city's Education Department, alleging that a school policy prevented nurses from calling 911 to help the 11-year-old.

Shawn Martinez filed the lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, naming the Education Department, two nurses and their employer, Comprehensive Resources Inc. His son, also named Shawn, died in February 2003. The Daily News reports the nurses were barred from calling 911 without the principal's permission, but the principal of the school could not be found. Lawyers for the school nurses say they were unaware of the severity of Shawn's asthma.

Former school nurse Maryellen Johnson said in a deposition that when it became clear that the nurses would be unable to find the principal, she took him home, where she attempted to treat him. But the boy was too ill and she took him to the hospital. An hour after the asthma attack started, the boy was dead.

The city's Law Department declined to comment.