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December 23, 2002

State to pay $375000 to parents of student killed by train

From: Kansas City Star, MO - 23 Dec 2002

The Kansas City Star

TOPEKA - The parents of a Kansas School for the Deaf student struck and killed by a train while on a school-authorized field trip were awarded $375,000 today by the state Finance Council.

Fifteen-year-old Justin Barnett was hit by the train while moving railroad ties on property owned by Charles Marsh Jr., a tenured teacher at the School for the Deaf at Olathe.

Marsh, who had taught at the school for 30 years, and another teacher had taken Justin and other students to the site near Hume, Mo., about 60 miles south of Kansas City, to participate in a field project.

Justin's parents brought suit against the state. The Finance Council, which consists of legislative leaders and is headed by Gov. Bill Graves, unanimously approved the settlement after a closed-door discussion.

John Campbell of the attorney general's office said the parents, Roberta A. and John C. Barnett Jr. of Olathe, also received $550,000 from private insurance.

The accident occurred on March 11, 2000, on undeveloped land Marsh owned. The railroad track abutted the land.

Both Marsh and the other teacher, Chris Kurz, who was not tenured, were fired.

Last July, the Kansas Supreme Court reinstated Marsh, although he never returned to teaching at the school.

To reach John L. Petterson, who covers Kansas government and politics, call (785) 354-1388 or send e-mail to

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