Health official complains of communication gap
Some concerns raised by the health commissioner will be answered by the school district's attorney.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRARD -- The city health commissioner is telling the schools superintendent he's not communicating very well on an important issue.
The criticism of Superintendent Joseph Shoaf is contained in a Jan. 17 letter to him from Dr. James Enyeart.
Some complaints center on remediation work being done in an effort to reopen the intermediate school, but other health concerns also are addressed.
The school, which opened for the 2000-01 school year, was closed in April after pupils and staff members complained for months of various illnesses they attributed to being in the building.
In his letter, Dr. Enyeart said the city health department has spent a considerable amount of time dealing with problems at the school.
The commissioner pointed out it was the parents, rather than the school administration, who brought the issue to the health board.
Had meeting: Dr. Enyeart recounted a meeting he had with Shoaf last spring before he was named superintendent in which the commissioner explained he had problems communicating with former Superintendent Anthony D'Ambrosio.
Shoaf was named superintendent last August, replacing D'Ambrosio, who became Trumbull County superintendent.
"I had wanted to meet with you in person in order to try to assure better communications between this office and yours," the health commissioner wrote.
"At present, I am less optimistic, but still hopeful that communication between us will improve."
Superintendent's response: Shoaf responded that he was "somewhat disappointed" with the commissioner's letter.
"It has always been, and remains my intention, to cooperate with you and your department to assure that we are both able to perform our official duties," Shoaf wrote back.
He said some of Dr. Enyeart's concerns have been turned over to the school board's attorney to answer.
Dr. Enyeart could not be reached, but James Dobson, assistant city health commissioner, said the communications issue eased somewhat during a meeting last week.
"I'm open to everybody," Shoaf said.
The superintendent said he has been available, including at meetings of the intermediate school committee on which Dobson and a health board member sit.
"I'm here and I've been here," he said.
Other complaints: In his letter, the commissioner said he has not received a list of maintenance, cleaning and educational materials as part of a program to identify possible health hazards in the school.
The commissioner said he is also looking for cooperation for Shoaf in identifying pupils and staff members who experienced health problems before the building was closed.
Dr. Enyeart also said the schools have not helped the health department to immunize pupils.
In addition, the health department is no longer receiving pupil illness reports by name as it had been.
With the lack of identity, the health department can't identify those pupils who become ill regularly.
Report: Dr. Enyeart also was critical of a Dec. 19 report from the school board's environmental consultant, Clayton Group Services of Akron.
Clayton reported the intermediate school is ready to reopen now that carpeting and mold have been removed.
"I find it ironic it was humidity and poor air flow that combined to create the environment where the growth of micro-organisms was possible, yet there is no mention of these in the report," the commissioner wrote.
"In the absence of such simple, but important details, in my view, it is impossible for anyone to read the Clayton report and reach the conclusion that the building is ready for occupancy," he wrote.