Friday, December 31, 2004

Chemical Spill Costs Upset Public School Parents

This story (first in the Dallas Morning News, was brought to my attention by Tim Gablehouse of Golden (CO). Unfortunately, the DMN is one of those jerkline outfits that wants enough information to steal your identity to let you read an article on their website (even if you spent the 75 cents they charge for their fishwrapper), so I'm putting the article here for TPoL and other readers.

Parents upset by ambulance bills

By The Associated Press(12/30/04 - DALLAS, TX) — The parents of some Dallas students who were taken to the hospital this fall after cleaning up a chemical spill in class are upset that they have been billed for the ambulance ride.
Nine seventh-graders at Pearl C. Anderson Middle Learning Center were following a science teacher's order in October by cleaning up the chemical that had spilled onto the classroom floor. As they were cleaning, their hands began to burn.
The school called for an ambulance, and the students were taken to a local hospital where they recovered a couple of hours later. The science teacher -- whose name was not disclosed by district officials -- was reprimanded but is still teaching.
Each family was billed $350 for the ambulance ride and the Dallas Independent School District is refusing to pay.
"If ... (school officials) would have called me, I would have taken her to the hospital and avoided this," said Deborah Whaley, who has received her second notice to pay the ambulance bill. "It could have all been avoided if they had told the kids not to touch it. They should have just called the janitor in."
Dallas schools spokesman Donald Claxton said state law protects school districts from liability in such incidents. He said the district would set a precedent by paying the ambulance bills.
"If we start paying for one, we're going to start paying for everything like that," he said. "It's a very unfortunate situation. We feel sick about it."
Dallas school district policy says that in an "extreme emergency," an ambulance service shall be called to take a student to an emergency room. The student's family will be billed for the ambulance service, the policy states.
Trustee Ron Price, whose area includes Pearl C. Anderson, wants the school board to take a look at the policy when it's back in session next month.
"We don't want to penalize parents for our mistake," Price said.

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