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Chancellor Apologizes For Toxic Chemical Found In Bronx School


Perplexed parents listened on Thursday night as the Chancellor of NYC public schools, Dennis Walcott, apologized for what they've been through and promised it would never happen again.

As soon as they got their turn, hands shot up in the air, so parents could speak their minds.

One stood up and explained, "My child would come home continuously talking about headaches." Applause rippled through the audience as other parents nodded their heads.

Headaches are known symptoms of exposure to TCE - the chemical found in the air at the Bronx New School. The same chemical that has been linked to cancer.

Referring to the school, one parent told the Chancellor, "That building that was storing chemicals that were cancer causing agents and because of the vicinity and the children that were involved, you didn't care!"

The problem these parents have is with the timeline. The department of education first found out about the unsafe level of TCE in January. Another test didn't happen until April, and that one also proved positive.

Yet parents and teachers weren't notified until August.

Parent Cynthia Rodriguez says that is unacceptable, especially now that she suspects the chemical as causing her own daughter health problems. "She's had dizziness and headaches and it's been since she's been attending that school."

Erin Arroyo, 7, now uses an inhaler due to respiratory problems and she can tell you herself how her chest felt during school. "I felt a tight squeeze."

It is not just parents of current students who are worried. Pam Sporn has a 24-year-old daughter who attended the school for 5 straight years when she was little. "I'm concerned about what the long term effects might be for her."

As for the short term, parents didn't seem satisfied with the answers they got here.

"You have not addressed or even spoken of the fact that what you should do is have your children checked," expressed another parent.

During the two-hour-plus meeting, the Department of Health and Department of Education stopped short of telling people to get their kids checked out by a doctor.

Instead, the DOH provided an informational packet on the chemical for parents to take with them to the doctor.

DOH says it found TCE clears one's system within two weeks but experts will continue to dig deeper to find out short and long term effects of TCE exposure to the students and teachers who went to the school.

The new school is slated to open in time for the school year at a space in St Martin's catholic church. It's two miles from the old school and the DOE says it's looking into busing options now. As for the space, it is bigger and even has a gymnasium.

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