U-46 agrees to pay $1.5 million to South Elgin boy attacked at school
The family of Henry Sembdner, a South Elgin boy who suffered brain trauma during a beating by a Kenyon Woods Middle School classmate in 2017, will receive $1.5 million as part of a settlement agreement with the school district, according to documents obtained by the Daily Herald.
Kane County Judge Susan Boles dismissed the Sembdners' lawsuit against Elgin Area School District U-46 with prejudice on Oct. 29 as a result of both parties reaching an agreement on Oct. 21 in the 2017 lawsuit.
"The parties mutually understand and agree that this agreement does not constitute any admission of fault, responsibility or liability on the part of the board," according to the agreement.
The $1.5 million lump-sum payment includes the cost of the Sembdners' legal fees. Money will be put into an account that Henry cannot access until he is 18, according to court records.
U-46 school board President Sue Kerr earlier declined to comment on the agreement. Sembdner family attorney Lance Northcutt earlier said the family's focus is on Henry, now 15 and a sophomore at South Elgin High School.
Henry was 12 and a Kenyon Woods seventh-grader at the time of the February 2017 attack that left him unconscious. He was assaulted in a school hallway where there were no security cameras after he and his attacker bumped into each other. The attacker picked Henry up and slammed him to the ground headfirst, rendering him unconscious and putting him in a coma for five days.
The family's lawsuit alleged district officials knew the attacker, who was 14, had a "lengthy history of behavioral infractions, including prior violent attacks against other students." It claimed staff failed to provide adequate care after Henry was injured. The school nurse initially called Henry's mom, Karen Sembdner, instead of 911, saying he had a bloody nose and broken tooth.
The 14-year-old who attacked Henry pleaded guilty to battery in July 2017. He was sentenced in juvenile court to 12 months of probation and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. He also had to undergo counseling and had to write an apology letter to Henry.