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School system mum on how students hurt

September 29, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

An investigation into an accident that injured two students in a South Hagerstown High School science lab is continuing, Washington County Public Schools officials said Wednesday.

Tylene McPherson, a mother of a 15-year-old boy who was injured during a science experiment Sept. 9, said she wants the school system to pay the medical costs of her son's treatment at Washington County Hospital.

The boy was not wearing goggles when he suffered eye, face, forehead and chest burns, McPherson said.

A second student also was injured, according to a Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher.

South Hagerstown Principal Rick Akers said he could not provide details about the accident, and he would not say whether the students were wearing goggles at the time of the incident, or whether goggles were made available to them.

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"Those are things I can't comment on because it involves personnel and student matters," Akers said Wednesday morning. An investigation is continuing, Akers said.

According to Washington County Emergency Services, Community Rescue Service was dispatched to the high school at 3:11 p.m. on Sept. 9. Hagerstown Fire Department and Washington County Special Operations, which handles hazardous materials spills, also responded to the scene, a dispatcher said Wednesday.

Two students were transported by ambulance to Washington County Hospital, Fire Department Deputy Chief Ron Horn said.

Public Information Officer Carol Mowen said Wednesday she could not say whether or not students in the science class were wearing goggles, or if goggles were made available to them.

"I really can't respond to that level of detail. I just can't respond to you on that at this time," Mowen said.

Mowen said she believed the lab students were conducting "a fairly simple scientific experiment," but she could not provide details about the incident or what chemical was involved.

"Basically, we have established procedures in science classes for safety, but I have not been able to get a copy of them for you at this time," Mowen wrote in an e-mail to The Herald-Mail Wednesday afternoon.

According to Robert "Bo" Myers, school system executive director for secondary school administration, teachers and students are regularly reminded of safety procedures for science labs and physical education classes.

He said Wednesday he was not sure whether procedures for science labs are written down.

"There's guidelines, and with those guidelines there are expectations that would be followed, and that would only be reasonable and prudent," Myers said.

A 2005-06 student handbook, which contains about 50 pages covering such topics as academic integrity, dress code and telecommunications devices, details the curriculum of subjects, including science, for elementary and middle school students. It does not address science lab safety.

Director of Human Resources Edward Lynch said he expected to receive results from the investigation.

"I have not reviewed any of the information around the investigation at this point," Lynch said.

The science teacher is still working at the school, Lynch said.

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