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Landslide Victim's Family Plans to Build New School with Settlement

Updated: 05/13/2014 6:24 PM
Created: 05/13/2014 4:33 PM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson

The St. Louis Park school district has agreed to pay $200,000 to the families of the victims of a deadly landside at a St. Paul park.          

A Hennepin County district judge approved the agreements Monday. The district will pay $80,000 each to the families of 9-year-old Haysem Sani and 10-year-old Mohamed Fofana, who died during a school field trip last May.          

The family of Devin Meldahl, now 11, who was seriously injured, will receive $40,000.        

The Fofana family has decided use a portion of their money to educate underprivileged children.

Imam Mohammed Dukly is speaking for the parents of Mohammed Fofana. He says, they've tried to put the incident behind them even though sometimes it's difficult to get the loss off their minds.

"They are very patient and they believe in just, the almighty it is Allah, who gave this child and so it is Allah for all intense purposes has taken him back," he said.

Imam Dukly says, as Muslims the Fofana family is required to exercise restraint in the face of adversity. In saying that, education has always been vital to the family. So with the settlement a judge awarded them from the St. Louis Park School DIstrict, the family is going to build a school in their homeland of Guinea.

"It is better to construct a school that would cater to the needs of so many other disadvantaged children. So this is the passion of the family," Dukly said.

The capitol of Guinea is Conakry. The population is just more than 11 million. Siguiri is the city where the school is going to be built. The town is nine hours from the capital. Architectural plans are already being drawn up.

"We have already acquired the land, 4.5 acres of land where this school will be constructed, at least to host 350 students," he said.

Dukly says, the only way we as a society can maximize the potential of our youth is to build the facilities needed to educate them.

The budget for the school is expected to be between $400,000 and $700,000.

Madusu Fofana, Mohammed's mom, will head over to Guinea in July for the ground breaking. 

In March, the families settled with the city of St. Paul for a record $1 million.          

Neither the school district nor the city admitted liability.          

Haysem family attorney Paul Godlewski says the Haysems plan to use the settlement to establish an orphanage in their native Ethiopia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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