B-CC student organizes fundraiser for injured custodian

B-CC student organizes fundraiser for injured custodian

MCPS spokesman says page’s description “doesn’t fit what we know”

| Published:
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A screenshot of an online fundraiser set up for an injured B-CC staff member.

via gofundme

An online fundraising page has raised more than $9,000 for a Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School custodian who says she was injured on the job and hasn’t received worker’s compensation.

The fundraiser, started by a student at the school, says Lilian Flores, a well-liked staff member, was recently walking in a B-CC hallway toward the end of the school day when she slipped and fell.

Flores was out of work for more than a month and “had to pay for hospital and physical therapy bills with no workers compensation,” the page says. Now, the county “refuses to help her pay for any of the bills because of a ‘lack of proof,’” it says.

In an interview on Wednesday afternoon, the student who started the fundraiser, Sam Van Zoeren, said she is close with Flores. When Flores returned to work, Van Zoeren talked to her about the injury, and discovered that, according to Flores, she fell in a part of a hallway not captured by security cameras.

But she fell around a “big group of kids,” some of whom helped her stand up afterward, Van Zoeren, a senior, said. Those students have not been identified.

“When she came back, she was going up to students asking if they could help identify the boys who helped her, but she doesn’t speak English well, so it was hard for her,” Van Zoeren said. “I just want to help her.”

Flores could not be reached for comment this week.

Derek Turner, a Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman, said the page’s description “doesn’t fit what we know,” but declined to elaborate because it is a personnel matter.

MCPS does not approve or deny worker’s compensation claims. Claims are handled by the Montgomery County Government Self Insurance Program.

State law provides for up to 66 weeks of wages to be paid to an employee once a claim for work-related injuries has been accepted. Worker’s compensation covers wages lost while an injured person is out of work, but does not cover medical bills.

The school district “does not have authority over who students choose to raise funds for,” Turner said. He suggested that anyone interested in donating “be cautious.”

More than 300 people had donated as of Thursday morning, raising a total of more than $9,500.

“We just encourage families to really think about when they’re brought a request to raise funds and make sure they understand the complete story,” Turner said. “We know parents are so generous and caring. We just want them to be thoughtful and responsible with their giving.”

Van Zoeren said B-CC administrators have been “weird” to and “unsupportive” of Flores since her injury. At one point, she said, staff members asked her to consider suspending the fundraiser, but Van Zoeren declined.

Van Zoeren’s goal is twofold: Help raise money for Flores and tell Flores’ side of the story, which Van Zoeren feels has been ignored by the school district.

“She’s been part of the B-CC community for so long and she’s built such amazing relationships with so many students,” Van Zoeren said. “She’s kind and caring and goes out of her way to talk to students, even if it’s in broken English. The fundraiser makes me so happy because it just shows how much everyone loves her.”

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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