Maryland High School Football Players Injured by Cleaning Agent

Parents of football players at a Montgomery County school are furious after some of the boys suffered first- and second-degree burns from a powerful cleaning agent.

Fifteen players at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring reported getting burns or rashes during practice on Sept. 16, Principal Sam Rivera said. One student spent three days in the hospital when his burns became infected and will be out for the rest of the season.

The burns came after the football coaches suspected one of their players had a staph infection and a trainer ordered the locker room to be sprayed down with a cleaning agent meant only for floors and walls. The chemical also was used on football pads and helmets, which players wore during practice the next day, The Washington Post reported.

Though several players complained of feeling a burning sensation during practice, it lasted the full three hours. The suspected staph infection turned out to be a false alarm.

Now parents of burned players are angry over how the school handled the situation, including failing to communicate to parents that there was a suspected staph infection.

“You injured my child by negligence, so I’m going to let the legal system handle it,” said Chimene Jules, the mother of the boy who was hospitalized for three days. “The parents’ concerns and questions need to be answered, and that would take away a lot of the frustration.”

Principal Rivera said Tuesday that the coaching staff should have let parents know about the possibility of staph and the precautionary locker room sanitation.

He said the school erred in how it applied the cleaning agent.

“In an effort to be proactive and do the right thing by kids, we messed up,” Rivera said. “We made some serious mistakes with how the material was used.”

Rivera declined to comment on whether anyone was disciplined over the mishandling of the corrosive cleaning product.

Meanwhile, the school was forced to replace all equipment that had been sprayed with the disinfectant and postpone Friday’s game until Monday, when the school had to call up junior varsity players to fill the void left by the six or seven players still dealing with burns.

Parent Valerie Gillespie said she thought it was disrespectful for the team to play Monday’s game while some players were still injured. She said she and two other players’ mothers have retained an attorney to resolve the incident going forward.

“I think that’s why they’re not talking,” Gillespie said of the school’s response to the incident. “They know it’s coming. They have to know. I mean, it’s horrible to see your child in pain and not knowing what to do.”