Amity's Guidance and Administrative Wing: A Short History - Amity Awareness

Last week my focus was on the Gym and the Lecture Hall. This week I will continue with the Guidance/Administrative/Office wing.

A total of 21 testing reports and evaluations performed in the Guidance/Administrative/Office wing are available for review.

The dates include 1995 (July and December), 1997 (May and December), 1998 (twice in April, May, twice in June, October, December), 1999, 2000 (March, August and twice in December), 2001 (twice in August, October), 2002 (April, November). The tests include fungal, bacterial, air and bulk sampling, carpet dust, air handling units (fungal and bacteria), CO2 testing and more.

Health complaints from the occupants of these offices are well documented and correlate to the findings of high levels of fungi and bacteria. In 1998 a memo to then interim superintendent Angelo DiRienzo, from an assistant principal noted five specific areas of concern including the Main Office/Guidance areas. It should be noted that this administrator left her employment due to health issues.

In a letter from former attorney Carole Briggs to former superintendent Rolfe Wenner. Briggs addresses a former principal's 'medical condition' and resulting symptoms. Briggs states that moisture testing had been performed in his office that 'yielded consistently dry results'. She attached the report by consultant Field Safety to her letter. Interestingly, it is noted in this report that Briggs and Associates had contacted Field Safety to conduct the inspection and a representative from the C.W. Briggs law firm accompanied the inspector on his site visit. The principal's office (Rm. 329) is serviced by air handling unit number six, which was monitored by Field Safety for "certain aspects" of the ventilation systems and did not include testing for mold and/or bacteria.

I am not sure if she ever forwarded various previous testing results to the principal (or the assistant principal) that showed extremely high concentrations of toxic mold and bacteria present in samples of the air handling unit servicing this area and of testing showing contaminated wallboard, ceiling tiles and air samples. Two of the toxic molds found were Stachybotrys Chartarum and Penicillium both causing symptoms similar to the ones the occupants were experiencing. Bacteria bulk samples found in 1998 testing of air handling units showed extremely high levels of gram negative, flavobacterium and methylobacterium and toxic mold.

In 2001 a public hearing was held at the Jewish Community Center sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Crisco. A long list of speakers including parents, teacher and students read from prepared statements. A member of the guidance department read a statement representing herself and fellow workers attesting to the various illnesses and symptoms they were suffering from and medications they were taking for the first time while working in that department. The statements were moving and genuine and certainly cause for concern.

In 2001 a former counselor left her employment at Amity citing ongoing health issues and lack of progress made to correct the situation. Her room showed elevated levels of mold and bacteria in previous testing. The list goes on and with each employee who left the school system, a valuable asset to the district was lost.

Despite remediation of some of the wallboard and removal of carpeting from this area, water incursion is still an issue. In 2002 a report by Milone and MacBroom noted several issues associated with cracks in the concrete floor slab of the guidance wing. It is written that 'it is not known if the slab was supported at this location or whether it was designed to float, independent of the structure. The cause of the settlement is not known'. Another crack in the slab is noted and the consultant was not able to review the structural drawings for the building to determine the original design intent. He notes 'if the slab were intended to be a structural slab, i.e. not supported by the underlying soil, then it would appear the slab may be overstressed at this location.

I will continue next week and bring this area to date. All the reports and evaluations are available in Central office. Any questions please feel free to email me

The opinions in this column do not necessarily represent those of this publication.