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Damage to gym floor unknown after students spray fire extinguisher

Published 11:02am Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chilton County School System officials are investigating an incident at Chilton County High School in which one or more students allegedly entered the school’s gymnasium over the weekend and sprayed the contents of a fire extinguisher onto the floor.

Fire extinguishers come in different types and contain pressurized chemicals, such as potassium bicarbonate and fluorocarbon, used to control fires. Such chemicals could damage a hardwood floor like the one in the CCHS gym on contact.

On Wednesday, Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden said one student was found to have been involved in the use of the fire extinguisher, with other students present during the incident.

An incident report has been filed with the Clanton Police Department, and most of the students allegedly involved in the incident were CCHS students, Hayden said.

Hayden did not release more information regarding the identities or grades of the students.

The Chilton County Board of Education has not yet taken action regarding potential repercussions for those involved.

“There’s a possibility of criminal charges and a possibility of a civil lawsuit, but we’re not sure what we have,” Hayden said. “We will do the appropriate thing, but we will not overreact.”

Hayden said he is in the process of contacting companies that provide cleaning services for facilities in which the chemicals in fire extinguishers have been released to determine how much it will cost to have the gym floor professionally cleaned.

“The fire extinguisher being set off has to be cleaned up properly,” he said. “I don’t intend for the taxpayers to have to pay for this mess.”

Hayden said he was unsure whether the board would call a meeting to discuss the incident further or wait until a future regular meeting.

According to Hayden, the investigation suggests that students entered the gym through an unlocked door, as authorities have not found evidence of damage to any of the gym’s doors.

The gym is currently locked and will not re-open for use until the floor is cleaned.

If a civil lawsuit were pursued, parents of students involved in the incident would be responsible for paying an undisclosed amount of money for the damage, Hayden said.

“All laws still apply,” Hayden said. “Trespassing is trespassing, and damage is damage. I encourage students not to do this sort of thing, obviously, but it will be handled appropriately.”

CCHS Principal Cynthia Stewart could not be reached for comment.

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