The mother of a Palo Alto boy whose fingertip was severed after being caught in a school restroom door says the doors present "a real safety issue for Palo Alto students."
Nina Kaloostian, whose son was an 11-year-old fifth grader at Fairmeadow Elementary School when the accident occurred May 16, went public with her story Tuesday after being told the school district would neither replace the doors nor reimburse her family for $10,000 in medical bills.
"It is my hope that mine is the last child to lose a finger at school in our town," Kaloostian said in a statement posted on Palo Alto Online's Town Square forum.
"Something needs to be done."
Palo Alto School Superintendent Kevin Skelly said today he is "not in a position to comment on the case."
The situation offers a window into the numerous liability claims that are adjudicated behind closed doors by the Board of Education each year. Board members typically meet in closed session prior to their twice-monthly regular meetings to discuss liability claims and pending litigation against the school district.
Kaloostian said she was contacted by a representative of the school district's risk management consultant, Keenan & Associates, and told that an adjuster had examined the Fairmeadow bathroom doors and concluded they were fine.
Fairmeadow administrators called paramedics after the bloody door accident, in which Kaloostian's son said a friend accidentally closed the door without realizing his hand was there. Kaloostian said the principal later told her the boys had been playing tag in the bathroom.
Kaloostian, who said she does not have health insurance, declined the ambulance ride but drove her son straight to Stanford University Hospital, where he was immediately treated by emergency room staff and handed off to a "hand team," who attempted to re-attach the severed portion of his left middle finger.
The attachment did not "take," and Kaloostian said her son, now a student at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, will permanently have a "somewhat deformed and short" finger.
Kaloostian, who has been a volunteer art teacher at Fairmeadow, said it is common for kids to play tag in the restroom and that safety features should be installed on bathroom doors in all schools.
She said her "healthy family of four" had to let go of its health insurance years ago when the monthly premium went to $1,200.