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4 teachers disclose tumor-related illness, prompting school environmental testing

Health concerns prompt environmental testing at elementary schools

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — At least four cases of tumor-related illness among elementary school staff prompted a central Indiana public school district to retain a firm specializing in health, safety and environmental consulting.

The Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township expects to receive results of air, water and soil tests conducted by Avon-based pH2 LLC “before the end of the semester,” superintendent Dr. Matt Prusiecki said.

Testing will be conducted at the Blue and Gold Academies, a facility that houses two elementary schools, located at 5650 Mann Road.

The Blue and Gold Academies have 147 staff members. Nearly 1,400 students are enrolled in the schools.

No evidence currently confirms a link between illness and possible campus contaminants, a spokesperson for pH2 told News 8.

Students and staff are not believed to be in any immediate danger, according to the district.

The four cases of illness were reported to the district between 2018 and Jan. 28, 2020; three cases involved benign tumors, Prusiecki said.

“Several staff members talked about… ‘Hey, we’ve been sick, too, in the past,'” the superintendent told News 8. “And they thought maybe there was a correlation to the building… Quite honestly, I thought it would be a proactive step to say, ‘There’s really no evidence of anything but, you know what, let’s contact an expert authority.'”

Students and classroom activities will not be displaced or disrupted by environmental testing, he added.

A statement from pH2 was uploaded to the district’s website with a file name containing the phrase “Decatur MSD Cancer Cluster,” prompting concern among the school community.

Parents began contacting the district with unfounded fears and questions about students experiencing headaches, administrators said.

The company’s file name was misleading and would be changed on the district’s website, Prusiecki told News 8.

“I don’t believe there’s a risk at all, as far as coming to school and [remaining] focused on our first priority, and that’s educating kids,” he said. “However, if we do find something through PH2 LLC, then we’ll deal with it accordingly.”

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