Close Northport Middle School

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The children and Teachers of Northport Middle School deserve to spend their day  in a safe and healthy environment. The time has come to close the doors of this building once and for all. We will no longer tolerate sub par conditions, chronic illnesses and a diminished quality of life. 

Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, Aplastic Anemia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Migraines, newly diagnosed Asthma, Optical disorders, general malaise, heavy metal-poisoning, unexplained skin rashes, mold found in the lungs and nasal passages/sinuses, high levels of Carbon Monoxide in the blood and low blood platelet levels... NOT OUR CHILDREN AND TEACHERS......NOT ANY MORE! 

    

This is our story.......

The children of Northport Middle School need your help. Since its' opening in 1956, this building has been plagued with problems resulting in health concerns for students who are educated there.This is true for teachers and staff as well.  At best, students experience vague symptoms and feelings of general malaise. Then there are those who experience "NMS asthma" - having "asthma" for the 3 years that they attend school in this building. There are respiratory illnesses and in some cases mold has been removed from sinuses or lungs. Many experience migraine headaches. For some, the illnesses persist and include life-threatening diseases such as Aplastic Anemia.There is a list of approximately 40 adults who have worked in the building and have suffered with and/or died from various forms of cancer and/or respiratory ailments. Currently, children are experiencing symptoms resulting in extensive blood work. Several children have tested with high carboxyhemoglobin (C/O in the blood) and some show anemia and/or low platelet counts. Some have been referred to hematologist/oncologists. (At least one pediatrician has required monthly blood tests while the student attends this school.) Other students need to use asthma inhalers and other similar medications in order to go to school. More recently, we have learned that in addition to at least one retired teacher who won a Worker's Compensation case in part because of heavy metal poisoning, there is at least one current teacher diagnosed with that as well.

 

For decades, these issues persist, with several time periods of greater concern. The building was poorly constructed and has been poorly maintained, including a period of time in the early 1990's when the building was closed for six years. The issues include clogged roof drains which result in flooding when it rains, issues with cesspools and toilets leaking on bathroom floors - these issues cause visible damage and lead to mold growth. Chemicals were poured into a cesspool in a classroom, requiring the DEC to be involved. There was chlordane found in large quantities in the soil surrounding the building - chlordane was sprayed IN the building. There is an active bus depot right next to the school building - school buses come and go throughout the day and are fueled there. The odor of diesel fuel is smelled by children and adults in classrooms. Last year in particular, there were toxic, flammable chemicals found improperly stored in a warehouse under classrooms. Chemicals such as "antigel" and diesel fuel were being mixed in this warehouse These chemicals emit VOC's which were found in high concentrations in the classrooms above. The District has done some testing, but as the testing alternates between grab sample testing and summa canister testing they seem to disappear and reappear. Over 3 summa canister testing sessions, a total of 30 VOC's were found, 10 of these exceeded the 95% percentile of NY State Department of Health Indoor Air guidelines. The standards used by the District's consultants were based on OSHA PEL, ACGIH guidelines and are not appropriate for children in a school setting One of the most concerning of these chemicals is Trichloroethylene which is found above NY State Department of Health standards.There are stains on the floor of the warehouse where the chemicals were stored. They are coming back up through the freshly painted floor. These chemicals do not just go away once they are found in an environment, the source must be determined - the school District has not done this. 

 

There is a trapdoor in a particular classroom - G51 - that covers the holding tank for a cesspool where HS science class chemicals containing heavy metals were improperly discarded. The cesspool was not vented to the outside so the discarded chemicals vented back into the classroom. The DEC was involved at the time and remediation was ordered. It seems that most of the remediation was carried out. However, the chemicals were dumped into that holding tank/cesspool for many years. The soil acted as a leaching field. We can find no record of the soil ever being tested. It is to be expected that the soil is contaminated although the contents of the cesspool were abated. Since there is at least one retired teacher and one current teacher with heavy metal poisoning as well as others with more vague illness and symptoms, soil testing must be done, at the very least as specified in the Enviroscience letter.

 

There was also chlordane used both outside and inside the building. We have no evidence that this was ever reported to the DEC and/or Suffolk County Department of Health. Because of extensive illness, the teachers at the time requested environmental testing. Testing was performed by Enviroscience and Tiffany Bader. Enviroscience recommended that 30 specific soil samples be taken - some shallow and some deep - the number and depth of each was specified in a letter to the Dsitrict from Enviroscience. This was never done. Instead the School District did wipe and air sampling. Clearly, the testing the District did was not sufficient. Again this speaks to the need for extensive soil testing.

 

We have reached out to many government agencies. We have written numerous e-mails to the Board of Education. We have attended numerous Board of Education meetings where we have spoken on the record. Our questions go unanswered, our requests ignored. It is concerning that our School Board President is employed by the Suffolk County Department of Health - the same agency that is called upon to check on the safety of this school building. Our District considers their work done. Throughout the years, these problems come out into the open, some "clean up" work is done and the District continues with business as usual. This is well documented in District health and safety reports and articles in our local newspaper. This must come to an end. It is time to stop endangering the health of children who attend this school. This school must be closed, the soil and water must be tested. There needs to be a complete and thorough remediation of any environmental concerns as they are detrimental to the health of everyone in that building. The building needs to be closed permanently, as the drainage problems have existed since its' opening. This District's decreasing enrollment makes this possible. We urge you to act now to protect the children of the Northport East Northport school community who are slated to attend that school.

 

Yours truly,

 

Concerned parents of the Northport East Northport School District



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