BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – Bridgeport city attorneys have reached a tentative financial settlement with the family of a 10-year-old girl who disappeared after leaving a city school in 2001, officials said.

The agreement, which awaits City Council approval, requires the city to pay $750,000 to the family of fifth-grader Bianca Lebron, who was last seen outside her school on Nov. 7, 2001.

Police say she was waiting with other students to enter the school that morning when she told classmates she was leaving with an “uncle” on a shopping trip. The students saw her get into an unfamiliar brown-and-tan van with tinted windows.

Her disappearance sparked a nationwide search.

Although Bianca remains missing, her family had her declared legally dead for the purposes of the lawsuit they filed against the city and school district. It alleges the carelessness of the school’s employees led to Bianca’s death.

The lawsuit said Bianca’s teacher let her leave without confirming her story and marked her absent on his attendance list, and that her family only learned she was missing when she failed to return home from school several hours later.

“It’s a tragic situation for both the family and the board of education, and we are happy this fair settlement brings some closure to the family,” Assistant City Attorney Arthur Laske III told The Connecticut Post on Friday.

The resolution calls for the city to make six yearly payments of $125,000 to Bianca’s family. Angelo Maragos, an attorney for the Lebron family, said it is a fair compromise.

“This doesn’t make the family happy. What would make them happy is if the police would continue their investigation and find out what happened to Bianca,” Maragos said.

Bridgeport police spokesman Lt. James Viadero said the investigation remains open in conjunction with the FBI. Bianca’s disappearance was publicized through national media outlets and $62,000 in reward money has been offered for information about her disappearance and whereabouts.

Information from: Connecticut Post,

AP-ES-03-22-08 1726EDT

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