Berger Primary School last month
On October 23 Lorna Williams dropped of her nine-year-old son Rasharn Williams at a Halloween party at Berger Primary School, Hackney Wick, leaving him in the care of the school’s staff. It was the first time that Rasharn, who was born with a hole in his heart and was being looked after by a Great Ormond Streeet hospital heart specialist, had attended such an event without his mother.
Williams says that Rasharn, who dressed up as a skeleton, had been excited to attend the event. “The night before I bought his costume, he said, ‘I’m going to look so nice tomorrow’. This is the first time he went alone. He was getting bigger and he begged to go to the school party, he was so happy to go,” said the boy’s mother.
Rasharn’s mother was shopping with her 11-year-old daughter when she received a phone call from the school saying, “can you come to school because Rasharn has had a panic attack because he had a fright.” Williams said she responded, “he has a heart problem, are you sure it’s not a seizure or fit?”, to which the member of staff replied: “no, he’s having a panic attack.”
Williams, who was in Leyton at the time, said she “zoomed to the school” as soon as she received the call but “it took me half an hour to get there.”
Williams is now demanding answers because when she arrived at the school an ambulance was yet to be called, with staff waiting - half an hour - until she arrived to ask her if she they should phone for an ambulance. Williams fails to understand why such a major delay occurred given that the school were aware of Rasharn’s condition and that his care plan states that, in the event of him falling ill, an ambulance must be phoned straight away.
The nine-year-old was taken to Homerton Hospital where doctors fought to save his life for two hours, but sadly he died.
His grieving mother recalls that after her arrival and the ambulance finally being called, “The ambulance then took seven minutes to get there.” Ms Williams added that all the time wasted waiting was time where, “my son could have been in the hospital […] and being taken care of.”
Rasharn’s funeral took place last week and his mother is now determined to get answers regarding why her son is not still alive, which she believes he would be if he had received proper care from the school.
Ms Williams, of Homerton, said: “I want my answers. No one can tell me to this day what happened – all they can say is he had a panic attack.” She continued, “I want to know what happened from start to finish until I got there, and who was handling him. I wouldn’t feel like this if they had called the ambulance. I believe he could have still been here.”
An inquest into the care that Rasharn received whilst under the care of school staff has been opened.
Ms Williams has described her son as, “trying to lead a normal life, he was a humble little boy, you could hardly hear him when he spoke, he was so shy. He was always smiling.”
The Headteacher of Berger Primary School, Steve Gleason has said: “Everyone at Berger Primary is devastated by the tragic loss of Rasharn, who was a popular, well-liked pupil of our school.” The Headteacher added that, “A governing body commissioned investigation is now underway so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”