Stepmother: School Should Have Intervened in Boy's Death - 8 News NOW

Stepmother: School Should Have Intervened in Boy's Death

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LAS VEGAS -- Days before 12-year-old Austin Mercado died, on Jan. 27, 2012, the sixth grader began vomiting at Johnson Middle School and went to the nurse.

Three days later, Austin had to be escorted by a teacher back to the school nurse because he was still suffering from severe stomach pain and had a fever of 100.9 Fahrenheit.

By Feb. 3, the day before he died, the nurse said he was "dehydrated, weak, pale and his fingers were blue."

Read the Arrest Report for Kalinda Mercado

"The school could have do more," Austin's stepmother, Kalinda Mercado, said. Mercado is facing a charge of murder in the boy's death.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Mercado said the school should have called 911.

Added her attorney, Larry Hill, "When a kid is not in parents' custody, the school got absolute responsibility to monitor the children and Ms. Mercado made the mistake of the trusting the school."

In a statement the Clark County School District said, "School staff are trained to follow the law and guidelines for the well being of all students ... In this situation, school staff followed proper protocol and guidelines."

Amanda Haboush of Prevent Child Abuse of Nevada, everyone from educators to parents should always alert authorities if they feel a child's well-being is at risk.

"They are not going to get in trouble," she said. "It is anonymous and if you have suspicion it's just better to call than sit on that suspicion because again it can save a child's life."

Mercado and her husband maintain they had no idea how sick Austin was.

"He never once said nothing bothered him," he said.

"They did not tell me anything," Mercado said.

Austin's case is similar to one last November where police say 7-year old R.J. Arrington was beaten to death by his mother and stepfather.

Back then, someone from R.J.'s school reported suspected abuse to Child Protective Services.

In both cases, experts say err on the side of caution to keep children safe.

"You just have to outweigh the consequences," Haboush said. "It's not worth it for the child to die of something that could have been prevented."

At the time of R.J.'s death, the school district told the I-Team they were reviewing how they work with the Department of Family Services and school police in suspected abuse situations.

The district said Wednesday that although no changes have been made, their first priority is student safety and they are making sure best the practices are being followed.

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