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Goal of lawsuit: Close school



Published: Tue, August 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The multimillion-dollar suit says that contamination from one school to another is 'practically a certainty.'

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Parents of some 50 Girard Prospect Elementary School pupils are asking in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that the school be closed when classes resume this month.

The suit seeking more than $30 million was filed Monday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Besides members of the board of education, named defendants are Anthony D'Ambrosio, former school district superintendent; Hively Construction Co. Inc. of Canfield, general contractor of Girard Intermediate School; and Ricciuti, Balog and Partners of Youngstown and Roth Brothers Inc. of Austintown, involved in the design and construction of the intermediate building attached to Prospect.

The intermediate building will remain closed today because of health issues that stemmed from the illness of pupils, teachers and staff.

Richard Ragozine, board president, said he wants to confer with legal counsel before making any comments. Other board members could not be reached to comment.

D'Ambrosio also declined to comment. Representatives of Hively, Ricciuti, Balog and Roth Brothers were not available to comment.

Background: The 400-pupil intermediate school opened for the 2000-01 school year and closed May 1 because pupils and staff were becoming ill.

The suit alleges that as many as 80 pupils per day were visiting the school nurse.

According to the lawsuit filed by Atty. Don L. Hanni Jr. of Youngstown and assigned to Judge Peter Kontos, the design and construction of the intermediate school were faulty.

It asserts that D'Ambrosio, who oversaw the construction daily, was warned of potential problems but didn't do anything about it.

The lawsuit alleges D'Ambrosio and board members "exhibited a deliberate intent to injure or engage in conduct which was substantially certain to result in injury" to pupils.

The lawsuit contends that Intermediate and Prospect buildings are connected by the same type of duct work. It's alleged that limited environmental testing was done in the elementary building and contamination from the intermediate school is "practically a certainty."

After Prospect was briefly closed in the spring, it reopened with Ragozine saying it was cleared to reopen by the city health department.

"Mandating young children to attend the Prospect Elementary School is a gross neglect of duty and reckless conduct, considering that the health effects on the plaintiffs may have lifetime consequences," the suit alleges.

The plaintiffs are asking the court for a restraining order to keep Prospect closed "until such time as the school is determined to have safe air quality by a qualified environmental laboratory."

Earlier suit: This is second lawsuit filed against D'Ambrosio and the school board in a week.

Last week, Robert Foley filed a $2 million suit asking the court to bar his transfer as principal of the intermediate school to principal of the junior high school.

Girard Concerned Citizens has said it will file petitions Wednesday in common pleas court to remove the school board because of the way it has handled the intermediate school issue.

yovich@vindy.com




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