February 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Mother of East Detroit student who drowned hires Fieger, sues district

Geoffrey Fieger (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)

Eastpointe ó The mother of a 14-year-old East Detroit High School freshman who drowned during a beginnerís swim class in November filed a lawsuit Thursday.

Lakisha Swift, represented by Geoffrey Fiegerís law firm, filed the suit in Macomb Circuit Court against swim monitor Johnathan Sails, East Detroit Highís interim principal Scott Johnson, the schoolís assistant principal Nicole Kirby, assistant principal/athletic director John Rizzo, East Detroit Public Schools and Macomb Intermediate School District.

The lawsuit seeks more than $25,000 in damages and cites gross negligence in the death of KeAir Swift, who died several days after the Nov. 8 incident after he was removed from life support at Detroitís St. John Hospital.

Attorney James S. Craig of Fiegerís law firm said administrators were grossly negligent and the pool should never have been open without a certified lifeguard present.

East Detroit Public Schools District Superintendent Joanne Lelekatch said she hasnít received nor read the lawusit and couldnít comment.

Sailsí lawyer Robert Leonetti was unavailable for comment.

Sails, 25, faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $7,500 after Swift sank to the bottom of the schoolís pool under his watch. He had a not guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter entered on his behalf in 38th District Court on Wednesday.

The Macomb County Prosecutorís Office alleges Sails was not certified as a lifeguard as required by state law, was not properly in swimwear for his assignment and was not close enough to the pool to effectively monitor the students under his care.

East Detroit Public Schools officials described Sails as an employee of outside contractor Professional Educational Services Group, which provides substitute teachers to area schools.

Chief Judge Carl Gerds set a personal bond of $25,000 with a condition Sails not take any jobs that he is not qualified for.

Sails is scheduled for a preliminary examination at 8 a.m. on March 19.

uwatson@detroitnews.com
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