Parents try shaming chancellor into meeting
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By Sarina Trangle
The site was entered into a state cleanup program that mandated further tests. Families then learned the school sat above gases that contained nearly three times as much tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, than recommended by the state. Health concerns associated with breathing the industrial solvent include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, neurological problems, liver and kidney diseases and cancer.
PS 51 Parents United emerged this September as parents like Adaline Walker grew frustrated with a lack of answers. Ms. Walker, a Norwood mother who sent her three kids to PS 51 in the 90s, said she found out about the school building’s contamination because of her role as first vice chair of Community Board 7. She said her children have not received written notice about their former school’s toxins and that she frequently fields calls from their peers asking about related health hazards.
“Is parent involvement dead at the DOE? How could you not reach out to parents that are asking for support?” Ms. Walker said. “We would like to see legislation that they cannot inform old students so late.”
Though confidentiality concerns have been raised about keeping a health registry of those who were exposed at PS 51, Alan Gary, a Van Cortlandt Village father whose son graduated from the school, said the hazards outweigh privacy concerns.
“The teachers of the school through their union got medical monitoring. They got a medical registry… God forbid there’s something wrong, you don’t want it festering inside your body. You want it treated immediately. The teachers have that privilege, but you know the kids don’t have a union,” he said.
The DOE didn’t respond to comment requests about whether Mr. Walcott intends to meet with Parents United. Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the department, disputed claims that the DOE hadn’t notified former parents.