Sunday, May 6, 2001
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRARD -- Parents say their children's health has improved markedly since classes were suspended at Girard Intermediate School.
The school's 400 pupils weren't in their classrooms last week when the school closed for the remainder of the school year.
The school was shut down after pupils complained of symptoms such as headaches, itchy and burning eyes, vomiting and rashes.
Edward Murphy has twin daughters, fifth-graders Kerry and Kayla. Kerry has asthma and was sent to a specialist after the heat was turned on at the intermediate building last fall. Despite taking medication, her condition worsened, he explained.
"She was actually laboring to breathe and had a rash" similar to hives, Murphy said, adding that the other twin, Kayla, complained of headaches.
Since pulling both girls out of school April 28, "they're better," Murphy said, noting Kerry's breathing has improved and the rash is clearing.
Murphy said he'll be discussing the sicknesses with a lawyer and other parents, noting that he's concerned about long-range ramifications.
How bad it was: Pennie Bada's doctor suggested her son Stephen, a fifth-grader, be taken out of school because of health problems. She removed him from the school shortly before Easter.
Since then, Bada observed, her son's breathing has improved.
But Bada said she was disappointed that her son had to be pulled out of school, noting she admires intermediate principal Robert Foley and the teachers.
"He [Foley] realizes the children are not at fault here," she asserted.
What got worse: Florence Doran, whose sixth-grade son, Stephen, normally has sinus problems, said the condition became severe while in the intermediate building. In addition to the other symptoms, her son had nosebleeds and sore joints, Doran said.
Stephen's last day at school was April 26. His mother said her son began feeling better three days later and was "up and running" within five days.
Besides her child's health, Doran is concerned about his grades, having fallen from the honor roll to Cs and Ds.
And since he has missed 19 days of school this year, Doran expressed concern that Stephen might be held back if he misses 20 or more days.
Superintendent Anthony D'Ambrosio said any penalty for high absenteeism will be considered on an individual basis.
Dean Weitzman said his daughter, Sara, a sixth-grader, hasn't suffered from headaches, dizziness and upset stomachs since she last attended school April 25.
Weitzman said his two other daughters who attended Prospect Elementary and junior high schools haven't had the symptoms.
Another example: Another parent, Connie Shultz, said her son Grant, a sixth-grader, "had a very tough year" attending the intermediate school. His symptoms include dizziness, swollen eyes and tiredness. After returning from school daily, Grant would spend two hours in bed.
Shultz said her son has felt fine since he has stayed out of the building.
She pointed out that Grant had trouble concentrating on his studies and his grades have suffered because of it. Normally a B and C student, he has gotten some Ds.
Shultz said she now feels some guilt that she sent her son to school when he complained school was making him sick. And now she, too, is worried about long-term effects.
"He's my only one. That's my precious cargo," Shultz noted.