Lilliana’s Law: Mother of 3-year-old girl killed by falling lunch table fights to make schools safer

Lilliana Kerr killed in 2017

Mother who lost daughter in school accident fights for school safety law.

Lilliana Kerr was killed on Jan. 20, 2017, after a lunch table fell on top of her while she was attending the Head Start program at St. Albert’s Church in Dearborn Heights. She was 3 years old.

Since then, her mother, Tabatha Kerr, has spent years trying to get laws passed to make schools safer for children.

“She was a sweet little girl. She was very adventurous. Very smart,” Tabatha Kerr said.

The Local 4 Defenders have learned that there is no state law requiring schools to do an annual health and safety inspection. Lilliana’s Law would change that.

“It’s not just about the table. It’s about the whole process of the inspection records. It’s a broad effort,” Kerr said.

The Defenders have followed Kerr’s fight for a law that addresses school safety. She has testified in Lansing. She has also gone door-to-door to get signatures in support of the law.

“We can all agree that safety is the No. 1 concern,” Rep. Ryan Berman (R-39) said. “And that is where our dollars should go to.”

READ: Mother pushing for ‘Lilliana’s Law’ after 3-year-old daughter killed by falling table at school

Berman is one of the lawmakers to introduce the current version of Lilliana’s Law. It would require school boards to inspect schools for health and safety violations.

“I ended up taking up the mantle and changing the bill a little bit to try and alleviate some concerns instead of having the DHHS be the ones who were actually doing the inspections. To put it to someone closer to schools, which is the districts themselves,” Berman said.

Berman said the COVID pandemic stalled getting the bill passed into law. He just introduced it to the house. Berman said the most important aspect of the bill is having the inspections posted online for everyone to see.

READ: Lawmakers, family of preschooler work to make Lilliana’s Law a reality

“It’s that component of transparency there,” Berman said. “Really any community member can go and say, ‘Hey, look, they confirmed this inspection was done and these are the results.’”

Kerr said she thinks about her other two children and other families she feels would be more protected with Lilliana’s Law.

“We want to take care of checks and balances. If, you know, something is wrong go back and make sure that it’s fixed,” Kerr said.

Lilliana’s Law was introduced in the House but has yet to be voted on.

READ: More Defenders coverage

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.