Attorneys for a 15-year-old in DeKalb County have asked “outside, third-party experts” to open investigations into a high school chemistry experiment that left their client with “life-altering” burns.
Attorneys L. Chris Stewart and Michael Roth said Tuesday they have reached out to the DeKalb County Fire Marshal on behalf of Malachi McFadden. A spokesman for DeKalb County confirmed to AJC.com the fire is under investigation.
The teenager was injured Aug. 6 when a fire broke out in his chemistry class at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, AJC.com previously reported.
The fire happened on the second day of classes. McFadden’s teacher reportedly conducted an experiment by lighting a dollar bill on fire.
“It’s a really bad situation,” Stewart previously told Channel 2 Action News.
McFadden’s family hired Stewart to represent them after they could not get information about the incident from the school, the news station reported.
In a news release issued Tuesday, Stewart and Roth said McFadden was not provided any protective equipment “nor was he told to stand 10 feet from the flames as mandated.”
“The fire went out of control as expected because there was ethanol in the bowl,” Stewart said last month. “And instead of putting water on it to put it out, allegedly the teacher grabbed a jar of ethanol and threw it into the bowl.”
That caused a “flame jet” that resulted in McFadden suffering third-degree burns on his face, head, arms, neck and torso, according to his attorneys.
McFadden was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital.
“Over 10% third-degree burns,” Stewart said. “It's horrific.”
The DeKalb County School District previously told Channel 2 that a school nurse went to the hospital with McFadden and that school counselors provided support to students who witnessed the incident.
The school’s investigation, however, has taken more than a month and “not yielded any information for the family,” the attorneys said in Tuesday’s news release.
It is unclear if the teacher involved was disciplined.
“The incident in question is still an ongoing, active investigation,” the district told AJC.com in an Aug. 22 statement. “Because this is a legal and personnel matter, we are not at liberty to discuss or provide further details.”
McFadden’s attorneys said they want “impartial experts” to determine what happened to their client “in an effort to prevent another incident like this from occurring.”
“Student safety should be the primary concern of all government officials, so we believe it’s imperative that outside, third-party experts be involved. The family prays that this prolonged investigation by the school district is not being delayed in an effort to find a legal loophole in order for the district to avoid responsibility.”
A lawsuit has not been filed in the case.
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