"I was livid," said Tina Richardson, mother of 9-year-old Alexander Henry. "I jumped out of my car. I ran back to the school. They were all, 'What's wrong? What's wrong?' I was shaking."Alexander, a student at Freese Elementary School in Lomita, currently takes part in the Big Smiles Program, an organization that is contracted by the San Diego Unified School District to provide dental care at no cost to hundreds of local children.Richardson said she signed a form in September, which she believed authorized Big Smiles to examine her son's mouth. Two months later, she received a separate "Exatraction Authorization Form" that indicated Alexander had several teeth with cavities. Richardson said she never signed or returned the form."I still have the form here in my hand," she said. "I did not return it to the Big Smiles Corporation. I did not give them permission to pull my son's teeth."Four of Alexander's teeth -- three on the bottom left, one on the top left -- were pulled at the school by a dentist because two were allegedly loose and the others had cavities in them. The teeth were removed in an empty classroom, instead of in a sterile room or at the nurse's office."I hope this isn't going on all over the district somewhere, where they're just going into classrooms and extracting teeth out of children's heads," Richardson said.A representative for Big Smiles told 10News the original form Richardson signed in September gave Big Smiles permission to extract the teeth.Late Thursday afternoon, Big Smiles issued the following statement to 10News:
Big Smiles provides quality dental care to children in a school setting. It is our practice to always obtain informed consent and to only provide procedures that are medically necessary. We cannot provide details of this specific case without proper consent given federal laws that protect the privacy of the patient.
Jennifer Gorman, SD Unified's Nursing & Wellness program manager, said it was her understanding Richardson had signed an authorization form. She said they would still look into what happened, even though this probably won't be the last medical problem in local schools."These things, other things are going to happen that are beyond our control," Gorman said.According to Gorman, a significant problem is the lack of school nurses, many of whom have been cut from the school district because of budget cuts. Gorman said a nurse would have been able to oversee Big Smiles' procedures and completion of authorization forms.