Group home fined, admissions suspended after girl’s death on school bus


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The state has fined the group home that cared for a little girl who died on a school bus last month.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Cape Fear Respite Home, where eight-year-old Jamiah Batts lived, was fined $10,000. It’s a type-A penalty, and the most severe that can be given. The group home is also not allowed to accept any more admissions until state investigators are satisfied they have fixed the deficiencies.

- Advertisement -

In the report, it sites former clients, one of whom they don’t name, is an eight-year-old girl with CP who died February 29th, the same day Batts died. According to an interview with a staff member, the lap belt on the girl’s wheelchair was really tight. So tight, the girl would vomit every evening after school and had bruises on her hips.

Batts, who had cerebral palsy, died after arriving by school bus at Rachel Freeman Elementary.

RHA Health Services and Cape Fear Respite Home responded to the report, saying:

“Cape Fear Respite Home and RHA Health Services are surprised and disappointed at the results of the DHHS investigation and recommendations following the tragic death of a New Hanover County elementary school student on a county school bus.

“Both Cape Fear Respite Home and RHA Health Services dispute the findings and plan to appeal to DHHS. Some of the information received and used by DHHS includes many inaccuracies and false information. Both Cape Fear Respite and RHA will provide all necessary information to DHHS to correct those falsehoods during the appeal process.

“For many years, Cape Fear Respite Home and RHA Health Services has made it the top priority to provide the highest quality of care to the people it serves. This means making sure we have highly trained, caring and compassionate staff and work with all state and local agencies to assure that we meet or exceed all requirements to best serve those in our care.

“Cape Fear Respite Home and RHA Health Services provides a variety of services for adults and children with developmental disabilities and need for supported living. The company is headquartered in Asheville, NC.

“Employees of RHA Health Services meet and exceed guidelines as dictated by the company‚Äôs Code of Conduct. We approach everything we do with integrity and respect for the individuals we support.”