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Four injured teachers take high road, get high marks

Who knew that an in-service day for teachers 19 months ago could result in such tragic consequences?

Who knew?

But as four Lake Oswego School District teachers made very clear Tuesday, they know that something very bad has happened to them. And they are to be applauded for trying to make sure that it doesn't happen to anybody else.

The in-service day in 2004 at Bryant Elementary School gym included numerous teachers from the Lake Oswego School District. Unfortunately, four of them - Kellie La Follette, Denise Fletter, Sherry Rhoades and Mary Neerhout Borg - sat directly under a cracked halide light fixture for almost five hours. They suffered fever, burns and eye damage from the intense radiation that came through the fixture and the eye damage continues today.

Tuesday, the quartet, all forced to wear dark, wrap-around sunglasses, along with representatives of the Oregon Education Association, held a press conference to ask state safety officials and the Oregon Legislature to remove halide lights from facilities and to repeal the state's Statute of Ultimate Repose (SOUR) law.

'If these changes are made, then we haven't gone through this for nothing,' said Kellie La Follette, one of the teachers.

The offending hallide lights, known as 'Type R,' are also found in factories, warehouses and grocery stores. They are not self-extinguishing.

Self-extinguishing 'Type T' light bulbs, however, snuff out 15 minutes after a crack or break and pose little danger.

Despite the passage of time and their continued health problems, the four River Grove Elementary School teachers appear interested only in repealing the SOUR law and get the offending lights out of public places and off the marketplace.

They made it clear their intent was not to file suit against the school district, which has made numerous adjustments to their classrooms so the women can continue to work and has removed the Type R halides from all district facilities.

Any effort to improve safety is worth noting.

This effort, in particular, is worthy of praise.