Trevor Varinecz (Source: Carolina Forest High School)
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A settlement has been reached in the lawsuit brought against Horry County Schools and Horry County Police by the family of Trevor Varinecz.
According to Horry County court documents filed last week, the Varinecz family agreed to accept two payments of $87,500, for a total of $175,000, from the Horry County School District; one payment for their claim of pain and suffering following Trevor's death, and the other for their claim of wrongful death in Trevor's case.
As part of the settlement, the family agreed to drop their lawsuit against the Horry County School District.
In their lawsuit, the Varinecz family claimed Trevor, a student diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, suffered a decline in his mental health when the school district cut his one on one mentoring time in school from 900 minutes a week to 45. The lawsuit said that decline in mental health played a role in Trevor's stabbing of school resource officer Marcus Rhodes. Authorities say the teen attacked Rhodes with a bayonet before Rhodes shot and killed him in self defense.
The Varinecz family has now dropped those claims, but Sarah Pope, an autism advocate and one of Trevor's former special education aids, said a combination of budget constraints and a decision to cut services for students with Asperger's by mental health specialists working with the school district may have contributed to Trevor's situation.
"They had to make different decisions for kids with Asperger's, and a lot of services were cut," Pope explained.
Pope worked as a school district aid with Trevor for years, and says he had a high functioning form of Asperger's. She said Trevor earned high grades in school, which may have been part of the reason the district cut the teen's special services.
"I'm not sure of how [the services were] cut, or who made the decision to reduce his services because they thought he was doing well, but we did have budget cuts around that time and lots of people were trying to reduce services for kids in the autism division," Pope said.
Pope said she hopes Trevor's case is a wakeup call to school districts that want to cut back on special services for kids with Asperger's in the future.
"Teenage years are hard enough for typical kids, but when you have a diagnosis that might be autism, Asperger's, or mental health [related], you've got to have other people in your life around that are going to help," Pope said.
The lawsuit was launched against Rhodes, the high school, Horry County Schools and the Horry County Police Department claiming Rhodes did not have the proper training to prevent the death of their son.
Police investigations cleared Officer Rhodes of any charges, and he and a former counselor were dismissed from the lawsuit before the settlement.
The court document filed on Thursday, Nov. 15 gave more details of what happened that day that have not been released.
Rhodes says Varinecz came into his office with a bayonet and stabbed him in the back seven times.
Rhodes claims Varinecz would not drop his knife, and Rhodes was scared he was losing control of the situation, adding that he believed Varinecz would grab his gun.
That's when Rhodes fired 10 shots at Varinecz, killing him. As he was dying Varinecz said, "Thank you, sir, Thank you."
Investigators found a note in Varinecz's pocket that directed them to a suicide note on his personal computer.
Both Trevor's family and the Horry County School District chose not to comment on the settlement.
Estate of Trevor Neil Hawkins-Varinecz vs Carolina Forest High School, Horry County School District, South Carolina State Department of Education, Marcus Rhodes, and Horry County Police Department PDF Exclusive:More>>
Friday, August 1 2014 8:54 AM EDT2014-08-01 12:54:17 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The sales tax holiday weekend kicked off one minute after midnight Friday. Neighbor North Carolina has no tax-free weekend, so expect the crowds to pour in. An average of $700More >>
The sales tax holiday weekend kicked off one minute after midnight Friday. WMBF News Reporter Jenna DeAngelis has more tips and info, so tune in before you brave the battle. More >>
Friday, August 1 2014 8:14 AM EDT2014-08-01 12:14:09 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Today will be soggy with off and on showers and storms. We could get some significant rain amounts in along the Border Belt and our NC counties with rain amounts as high as twoMore >>
Today will be soggy with off and on showers and storms.More >>
Friday, August 1 2014 7:59 AM EDT2014-08-01 11:59:02 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A man says the person who burglarized his home in Myrtle Beach was live-texting him during the act. Officers in Myrtle Beach actually saw those text messages, according to theMore >>
A man says the person who burglarized his home in Myrtle Beach was live-texting him during the act.More >>
Friday, August 1 2014 7:30 AM EDT2014-08-01 11:30:26 GMT
Senate lawmakers passed a $21.1 billion budget early Friday which gives teachers raises and funnels $113 million to kindergarten and college classrooms statewide. The Senate voted 33-10 to pass the budgetMore >>
The Senate voted 33-10 to pass the budget shortly before 1 a.m. Friday with no discussion. The vote follows a marathon week of crafting and debating the spending deal.More >>
Friday, August 1 2014 7:12 AM EDT2014-08-01 11:12:56 GMT
SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – As a family slept the surveillance cameras were alert, gathering evidence of a crime in action just below their bedrooms. "On July 29th we were notified of a burglary but withMore >>
As a family slept, the surveillance cameras were alert, gathering evidence of a crime in action just below their bedrooms. More >>
Friday, August 1 2014 7:06 AM EDT2014-08-01 11:06:39 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The WMBF First Alert Weather team is out at the Beach Church right now for the first annual WMBF First Alert Hurricane Expo! If you can't make it out, you're in luck - thanksMore >>
The WMBF Fist Alert Weather team is out at the Beach Church right now for the first annual WMBF First Alert Hurricane Expo!More >>
Friday, August 1 2014 5:40 AM EDT2014-08-01 09:40:52 GMT
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Dispatch confirmed a car accident on Peachtree Road around 5 a.m. Friday morning. Details are extremely limited at this time, but dispatch said a vehicle was onMore >>
Horry County Dispatch confirmed a car accident on Peachtree Road around 5 a.m. Friday morning.More >>
Thursday, July 31 2014 10:56 PM EDT2014-08-01 02:56:42 GMT
FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) Faster treatment for our nation's heroes could just be around the corner. A bill which gives healthcare choices to veterans passed both houses at the federal level. It's a ten-billionMore >>
Faster treatment for our nation's heroes could just be around the corner.More >>
Thursday, July 31 2014 9:35 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:35:54 GMT
Myrtle Beach (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation wants the public to rate their experience of the boardwalk. Earlier this week, the corporation started a new online survey. TheMore >>
A survey has been issued by the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation for the public to rate their experience of the boardwalk. More >>
Thursday, July 31 2014 9:29 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:29:09 GMT
Conway, SC (WMBF)-The coundown is on. As of August 1st Coastal Carolina's Campus will be smoke free for both students and faculty. Coastal Carolina Officials refer to this as a "soft start" for thatMore >>
The coundown is on. As of August 1st Coastal Carolina's Campus will be smoke free for both students and faculty.More >>