The new gym floor at Patterson Mill Middle High School splintered a week ago Thursday and injured a basketball player who had to be taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center. The student had a shard, estimated at 5 – 6”, surgically removed, according to accounts from parents at the school. The student has since been released from the hospital.
The problem area on the gym floor was taped off and a girls’ basketball game was played on the surface later the same day.
In response to an inquiry from the PTSA, Principal Wayne Thibeault confirmed the incident and recounted HCPS’s response in an email, used with permission here on The Dagger:
Mrs. Melanie Wernig (Risk Manager for HCPS) was notified on Thursday evening by me. I provided her with the details regarding the incident.
I also alerted the facilities department of HCPS about the incident that same evening. [Assistant Principal] Mr. Milanoski followed up with HCPS Facilities on Friday morning as well.
On Friday the floor was inspected and the game scheduled for Friday night was postponed pending further detailed inspections of the floor.
I will receive more detailed information on the status of the gym floor on Monday when we return to work.
In the meantime we are not utilizing the main gym until it can be determined that the gym surface is safe for our students to play on.
The safety of the surface will be determined by Mrs. Wernig in concert with our facilities people and any flooring experts that she may call upon to make this determination.
I will continue to keep you in the loop as soon as I receive more definitive information regarding this issue.
I am sure that you understand that I cannot speculate at this time on the status of this weeks’ games scheduled for PMMHS. However, I can assure you that the safety and well being of our students is everyones number one concern and to that end I can assure you and everyone else that we will make no compromise.
Yours for youth,
Wayne D. Thibeault
The inspection identified a total of 7 locations on the gym floor in need of repair.
Principal Thibeault later indicated the sites were being fixed by HCPS staff and Mrs.Wernig, the Risk Manager for HCPS had cleared the gym for use. A wrestling match was held on the mat-covered floor Monday night, but the following day, activities did not resume as anticipated.
Instead, more meetings ensued, PE classes were curtailed and more games have been postponed. Our inquiries, now being directed to Teri Kranefeld, Manager of Communications for HCPS, prompted the following response:
Our Facilities Department and the company that installed the floor have inspected both the high and middle school floors. They have identified the areas that need to addressed and they are currently scheduling to have the work completed. I do not have an exact date for you at this point, as the schedule is currently being set. We want to ensure permanent solutions to address these issues—not quick fixes. Once the work begins, it should take approximately two days to make the necessary repairs. We are not going to allow any activities to take place until the repairs are complete and the final inspection has taken place.
Late word is that the second round of repairs, which now appear to include the original installer, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, February 10th. Repairs are expected to be completed by the following day.
According to Ms. Kranefeld, rumors that the entire floor will be replaced are unfounded and the middle school gym floor was inspected, but nothing was found beyond normal wear and tear.
A few delayed games are a small price to pay for student safety and it’s good to see that school officials are dealing with the problems that are evident. But a gym floor is composed of hundreds of individual boards. Fixing a few boards now is no guarantee of all the other boards in the future, if the problem turns out to be systemic.
That’s why it’s important to identify the root cause of this incident. When the floor was built, were faulty materials used? Was installation shoddy? Was the new floor compromised in some way? If so, contractors need to be held accountable – the floor is less than two years old. Until the answers become clear, it looks like parents who have been following up on facilities problems at Patterson Mill have something else to add to their list.
I have a question about this, does the school pay for this basketball player’s medical bills? It would seem if I were the parents, I wouldn’t want to pay a cent of the medical bills since it seems that HCPS would be at fault. Of course, the insurance company wouldn’t want to cover them either. So, due to that, can the parents go to the HCPS and have them pay for the bills since they were playing on an unsafe court? The basketball player is now out for the whole year.
I am just curious how this works for students in this situation.
Many insurance companies will send the insured a questionaire after any medical procedure that was the result of an injury. The main thrust of these questioaires is to find out if there were any other parties involved in the injury. If another party is involved, the insurer will likely contact them for insurance info to cross claim against their insurance.
For those without insurance, the follow-up falls to them as the injured party to claim.
When all else fails, sue.
vietnam vet says
it makes me wonder. how a splinter of any’ proportion’s escaped notice so long the floor has to have a finish put on it for further protection. I think it boils down to not my problem.
Let some body else worry about it.
A floor in a gym is polyed heavily. How could this happen…its waterproof, sealed.
vietnam vet says
RichieC you are right. I spent a many a year. finishing hard wood floors. the splinter is certainly a rarity.or was caused by poor installation.
Is there a common denominator in many of these HCPS construction projects in Harford County? Answer is Yes … North Harford had all kinds of problems with subcontractors and the school system had to sue to get things fixed, Patterson Mill has a myriad of facility problems and was rushed to open on time and probably not completed properly. When parents and taxpayers talk about accountability, this is just the kind of issue we are talking about! Ironically though certain members of the Harford County Board of Education like to go around saying that people who want an elected school board just use the word “accountability” because they don’t like their decisions. Another reason why we need elections so we can find out what people’s definition of “accountability” is. Additionally, this same contractor on all of these projects is one of individuals who has spoken out numerous times AGAINST an elected school board.
Now the school system is asking the taxpayers to trust them when they embark on several other projects with the SAME contstruction manager. Both of the elementary schools are with the same company and there was an issue with the audit about bids not being properly opened etc. I don’t think there is a conspiracy here, just bad judgment and extremely poor oversight. Is this the only contractor bidding on projects in this county??
I feel bad for the Patterson Mill basketball player that misses the whole rest of the year because the floor was unsafe. What can be done to make it up to him. It is just sad and I know he is not happy about this after spending much of the summer training for the hoops season.
The piece of wood was more like 13 inches – not 6. I have seen photos of the piece of wood that came out. This student is probably out of commission for a while.
That’s horrible…depending on the location of this splinter,…which sounds more like a stick if it’s 13″ it could affect him for a while…not just in basketball. That’s a shame. I think the contractor who did the floors should be responsible not the school. Think about it. Harford County paid for the floors to be done properly and they obviously weren’t.
Dave Yensan says
Low bid contractor anyone?
A concerned parent says
Okay…what is the latest news here? Last I heard the PMHS gym was slated to reopen late last week. Maybe today’s Aegis will have an update, or perhaps I missed it.
I can’t help but see the irony of the “no Sweets treat” policy getting released during this major floor snafu. How is the student feeling? This is an outrage!! HCPS buildings/RFP department/BOE all of them should be up in arms about this incident. What assurance do we taxpayers have that this is not going to happen in the new Bel Air HS? The new elementary schools, and the new Edgewood HS? Aren’t there quality standards for new installs?? Didn’t any of the gym teachers or the AD notice anything? Too many questions and not enough answers for this parent.