Football Mom Continues to Question Field Safety

Denise De La Torre, left and her son Ricki, at Guyer Field. Photo by Ted Reckas.

Laguna’s school board on Tuesday denied a claim sought by parent Denise De La Torre, whose son, Ricki, was injured playing football last October.

Since the denial of the claim was a scheduled agenda item, De La Torre took the opportunity to air her concerns about district protocols for treating injured athletes and disinfecting the artificial turf and locker rooms.

Her son, a junior, who suffered a groin pull during a practice, sustained another injury, a bruised pelvis, playing in a game Oct. 8, walking off the field in pain. After a series of emergency room and doctor visits, Ricki was finally diagnosed with a staph infection over two weeks later.

Earlier this month, De La Torre told the Indy that in all her hospital bills were about $40,000 and that she had filed a claim with the school for $3,500 “in unpaid medical costs.”

At the meeting Tuesday, neither the board members nor De La Torre referred directly to the details of her claim. However, De La Torre reiterated concerns about the expertise of the high school’s athletic department as well as their practices for disinfecting the artificial turf field and locker rooms, touching on a national debate about the relationship between artificial turf and staph infections.

De La Torre said that she has spoken to numerous experts on the subject and obtained data that she has shared with the district. While she submitted three complaint forms to the district, followed by letters to the district and to board member Ketta Brown, and while the district, in turn, offered written responses to De La Torre’s missives, she feels their response has been inadequate, and she said on Tuesday that her concerns have not been properly addressed. For one thing, she was told that the football field was sanitized in 2009 and that such treatment lasts for two years. De La Torre disagreed, saying her research revealed no product that could disinfect a field for such a length of time. For this and other reasons, she intends to keep pressing administrators to adopt different standards.

Because the agenda item involved a legal claim, board members were prohibited from commenting on the matter. Superintendent Sherine Smith, reached the next day, said that the district has “been very proactive about the field and locker room.”


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