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February 1, 2012 - 12:40pm

Le Roy superintendent releases a letter to the community

posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Via email from Bill Albert at Harris Beach:

Letter to the Community

February 1, 2012

Over the past few days, activities that have occurred in our community with respect to environmental testing by a representative who claimed to be working on behalf of Erin Brockovitch have taken center stage. This has been a distraction and taken us away from our mission to return normalcy to our school District, which every medical professional says is critical for the health and well-being of all students in our schools. As we have communicated, we have been working closely for months with numerous medical professionals, the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. All of these agencies and professionals from these agencies have assured us that our school is safe. There is no evidence of an environmental or infectious cause. Environmental causes would not discriminate. We would see a wide range of people affected. 

The community should take assurance that the Department of Health concluded extensive reviews of both the epidemiology and the clinical evaluations and found no evidence of environmental or infection as the cause of the students’ illness. Again, an environmental exposure would affect many people. The school was tested for total Volatile Organic Compounds by an independent firm. The school is served by the Monroe County Water Authority. This system is monitored on a regular basis. In addition, we have just been informed that water samples taken from the inside of the school as an additional precaution have been tested and determined to be safe. The treating physicians at the Dent Institute ruled out PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders associated with Streptococcal infections), a condition that sometimes causes this behavior. The Gardasil vaccine was ruled out because many of the girls did not receive the vaccine. 

In addition, to help assist the district with assessing all aspects of this situation, we hired our own independent environmental expert to conduct a review of the findings and offer alternative approaches if needed. This was done not because we questioned the state medical professionals or federal agencies, but to help reassure the community. There are also some individuals who are attempting to connect the 1970 Lehigh Valley Railroad train derailment that spilled Trichloroethene (TCE) to the school.  In fact, the TCE plume has been shown as moving in the opposite direction of the school, some three miles away.     

The individual who came onto school property this past Saturday did not identify himself, did not show his credentials, and did not contact us ahead of time to offer assistance or coordinate with our efforts. Nor did this individual demonstrate that the testing approach was in accordance with scientific methods. It was clearly staged as a publicity stunt with members of local and national media invited to participate. We know this because the media arrived well in advance of this individual. In fact, one member of the media entered the school without permission and interrupted the preparations for an on-site program. Of course they were asked to leave. I am charged with keeping this entire school, staff, students and grounds safe. Not knowing this individual’s intention, I had no idea if he was there to get something or leave something. 

Our administration and staff are exceptional and have been diligently working under stressful situations to try to maintain a supportive educational environment. This has been extremely challenging given the irresponsible tactics and programming by the national media. Speculation and reporting of erroneous information by those who have none of the information that has been compiled over months of study by leading professionals is confusing our community. It is also heightening the level of anxiety of all our students and especially jeopardizing the recovery of those affected students, many who had recovered or been showing signs of improvement. These kids want to get better. As a community, we need to support each other and these students by ensuring our school environment is nurturing and safe. I want to thank the members of our local media who have been engaging in responsible reporting.

I know we all want what is best for the children. We are all frustrated, tired and saddened by this turn of events as it is affecting the entire community. I am confident we will work through it, but I do believe it will take some time. My role as Superintendent of this District is to ensure I am providing the best possible educational environment conducive to learning and allowing our children to excel to the best of their ability. I am not an environmental scientist or medical professional, and therefore, cannot always be the spokesperson for highly technical and medical explanations nor answer questions that require in-depth technical knowledge. Questions of this nature must be addressed to those professionals and answered by these professionals. I have been trying to increase the direct communication from these agencies as well as putting forth new information as it is received. I know it is frustrating not to have definitive answers or wait for test findings. I want to assure you that all technical professionals involved are doing everything they can to expedite the process and communicate any new information as it is received.

I know this has been an emotionally hard situation and we all hope for the speedy recovery of our students. Please know we welcome your questions and suggestions, and take all under consideration. We will continue to communicate with you as soon as we have new information to share. 

Kim M. Cox
Superintendent of Schools

Ted Wenzka
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Right on.

tim raines
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Well Ms Cox.

The Leroy School System has been working closely with professionals and state/ fed agencies for MONTHS to find the cause and cure for the students.

And what has that produced? NOTHING

2 families asked Ms Brockovich and others for help since you haven't found the cause.

And you don't like that.

At this point, you should be asking for all the help you can get.

Calling someone a criminal for walking on school soil is your own publicity stunt.

The lack of transparency and defensive posturing by you is troublesome.

The media and additional professionals can be your friend or your enemy.

It's your choice.

Rob Krzewinski
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Here, Ms. Cox comes out letting people know whats going on but of course people are still going to complain. She says that they have been working with agencies for months. Why would she lie about this? If you are not part of the school how would you know? I'm sure you can contact these agencies to verify. I'm sure Howard has. How is this the school's fault that it has produced nothing? Lack of transparency and defensive posturing??? REALLY???? She pretty much laid everything on the line. Here is what we are doing. Here is why we did what we did. I think her overall message is: hey, despite what people think, I do care about this school community and it's faculty and students that are a part of it. We want to return to normalcy but the national media is not helping by causing stress and causing rumors to be started. We will keep you updated. Meantime, the school and its environment are safe and we will continue to find answers.

...........AGAIN, how is this the school's fault that this has happened??? I guess people will always find something to complain about.

I also wonder how many of the people who voted "NO" in the poll the other day or left the negative comments about the school were from/live in LeRoy. Just wondering.

Ted Wenzka
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Tim,
GET A LIFE.
By your comments you will not believe anything that goes against your perceptions of the cause. "The individual who came onto school property this past Saturday did not identify himself, did not show his credentials, and did not contact us ahead of time to offer assistance or coordinate with our efforts." did not act professionally. If the person was a professional they would have contacted the school administration and asked permission. Yes the school is public grounds but as I heard it, there was a school function in progress and I don't believe any right-minded person would want an unknown person prowling the grounds. Under normal circumstances you would be the first one to ask for the superintendent's head because she allowed an unknown person to prowl the grounds.

Chris Charvella
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Not for nothing Mr. Raines, but months of study, tests etc.. didn't produce 'nothing,' they produced a diagnosis of conversion disorder.

Conversion disorder is a real thing and people with the condition aren't 'faking.'

What I see here is a small town school that wasn't at all prepared to deal with this kind of media attention. I don't think for a minute that the Superintendent is trying to hide anything from the public. I DO think that she has handled the media situation poorly; not because she is engaged in deceit, but because she has no clue how to handle the media bull that has taken up residence in her china shop.

I don't have an opinion about what the cause is for the tics; I'm not a doctor. I do know that people who ARE doctors have provided diagnoses that fit the symptoms, so there's that.

If there's a silver lining here, it's that while probably completely unrelated to the girls' tics, a bright light is shining on a pretty terrible handling of a toxic waste spill. As a matter of fact, it seems like the only person in the chain who didn't screw up royally here was the highway worker who reported the leaky barrels in 2008.

matt riggi
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So, let me get this straight. The super sends this letter out to the community and states all of the agencies the school has been working with? Considering the amount of international attention this case has been given, one could easily assume that if this weren't true, said agencies would certainly step in and say these claims are false. Doctors have given a diagnosis? (Now, I'm not totally sold on it, but then again, I'm not totally educated on this subject.) So it's the schools fault for the diagnosis? Since when did our administration become medical professionals? The environmental team is obviously aware of the situation, and they are the ones who are the "environmental professionals." They run tests and it's the schools fault for the type of tests that are run and the results that come back? Wow, our administration is also environmental experts as well!! This is a pretty talented school district. The school knows nothing about how to handle this crisis, which is why professional agencies have been called in. How are their findings the fault of the school? When these girls first developed symptoms, did they go to the school for answers or did they go to their doctor? Everyone says the school wasn't very forthcoming with all of this at first....How can they be forthcoming on a subject they know nothing about? That's what the doctors were for, blame them for any diagnoses issues you have, they're the medical professionals!! I just don't understand the line of thinking here. (queue the "you don't understand much, do you matt"..comments...) Please, rationally explain to me how these results are the fault of the school? Solid proof that the school misdiagnosed these girls, and the school ran the wrong tests, and the school came up with the wrong results. Show me where the DEC, DOH, and the EPA have allowed schools to do their own testing in a situation like this. Where they have allowed the schools science teacher, perhaps, to perform all of the necessary tests. Show me where that is allowed...

Judith Kinsley ...
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Totally agree Tim. What has been done to this point and produced to the victims and parents of children at that school has been totally inadequate. I would be absolutely thrilled if indeed all the above-mentioned agencies have been testing the hell out of everything that could possibly tested. I would also love to see results of these numerous tests. Forgive me if I seem cynical, the situation has made me so. I have been lied to and mislead and I am more than a little wary of Mrs. Cox's "press releases." As I have stated more times than I care to count, look at the testing done to date on the school website that has been produced to the public. An article from today's D&C:

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20120201/NEWS01/202010307/Ou...

Rob Krzewinski
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They can test the environment everyday for the next 5 years...clearly they are not finding anything wrong with the air, water, and soil. Hence the reason they have stated that the school is safe. AND if it was environmental A LOT more than 12 or 13 or 15 students would be effected. A "poison" in the environment is not going to choose just a select numer of students.

Again, why would Ms. Cox lie about what agencies are doing what? And if these agencies aren't doing enough in some peoples' minds how is that the school's fault? They are not environmental specialists! They run a school!

Accept it or not, the diagnosis is conversion disorder. That is what these students are being treated for. From what I have seen/heard/read it sounds like some are improving.

Judith Kinsley ...
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It is the duty of the school to keep our children safe. Seems common sense to me. And nowhere in that release does she say additional testing has been done. They are "working with" these agencies. Whatever that means. How can you say that they won't find anything because they haven't yet when they haven't tested? Pretty sure if they had, the results would be there up along the two other inadequate tests done to date on the website. The article states the school hired a consultant to advise as to whether more testing is needed. You think? And as demonstrated by Love Canal, not everyone gets sick from environmental issues.

matt riggi
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Judith- imagine your home is the school, and you are the administration. family members in your house come down with these symptoms. You hire the necessary agencies along with medical professionals and explain everything you can to them about what you know. They give you results and nothing gets better. You continue to work with the agencies as symptoms get better for some of the members in your house, but not the others. Would you accept your family blaming you, saying it's your fault for not finding a cause and solution?

Cheryl Wilmet
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My thoughts are simple - if you have nothing to hide then why refuse others the chance to double check The tests that were done and get your back up so easily?

Judith Kinsley ...
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I would continue to explore every imaginable avenue until I had an answer. Accepting help from anyone and everyone. Simple.

Howard B. Owens
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Rob wrote, "I'm sure Howard has."

Well, I've tried, and up until a minute ago, hit nothing but a stone wall.

One thing that bugs me about Rob and Matt's comments is they are accepting at face value, as Rob put it, "clearly they are not finding anything wrong with the air, water, and soil."

But up until a minute ago (see the press release I just posted), we had no solid evidence that the water had been tested. The press release, naming a specific company with specific results, is an unusual moment of transparency in the course of this issue.

The air instead the building was tested, but not by an independent agency. It was tested by BOCES.

I've seen no credible reports -- in fact, no reports at all -- about soil testing.

And there's still the issue of testing the water that flows through the campus.

I want to be clear -- I'm not trying to say there is an environmental issue and I'm not saying there is a cover-up. I'm saying there is a lack of transparency and I'm saying that when you try to get clarification from government officials on their very general statements, it's hard to get detailed answers. All I want are details to report back to readers so we all get a better picture of what's going on and how things are being handled.

matt riggi
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But would you accept the blame? Remember, these girls were given a professional diagnosis. Some of the girls are in treatment and have improved. Some have not. If you continued to work with the professional agencies, and even hired an outside firm to evaluate the results in an effort to offer another opinion, would you accept being blamed for not finding more?

matt riggi
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I haven't indicated that I have accepted their findings, Howard. The school is relying on professional agencies for this testing, not themselves. I have stated that the proper agencies (DEC, DOH, EPA) are working with the school. I don't think this is anything to blame the school for. They are not the professionals in this matter. I think Chris posted the best comment on here. I have, numerous times, stated that I would like to see more testing. Nowhere did i accept this situation as it is. Sat was handled very unprofessionally, and I think the super addressed that perfectly in her letter. Most of the people (excluding Judith and Beth) have judged the school based on the events of sat alone.

Howard B. Owens
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Matt, my comment wasn't clear -- I see you accepting at face value many official statements, as evidenced by, "The super sends this letter out to the community and states all of the agencies the school has been working with?," as if because the school says it, it must be true.

I've been trying to verify such statements, and am having a hard time of it.

While I verified today, for example, that the DOH was contacted in November, I'm still not clear on when the DEC and EPA got involved.

But more to the point -- we keep getting told all of this testing has taken place, but when pressed for details, it's hard to get straight answers. Straight answers would affirm that the district has been in fact working with all of these agencies.

Judith Kinsley ...
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Matt, may I reiterate, the diagnosis of "conversion disorder" is a diagnosis of elimination. You eliminate all other things it could be and then, when you have no other answer, that is where you go. That was not done in this case. The doctors in question did not even examine all the girls. By the way, Dr. Mechtler is commonly known as "Doctor for Dollars" on the blogs. Which would be a huge part of why many parents, and not just those of the girls, were not satisfied with it. After that diagnosis was handed out, it appeared to me that the school saw their liability end there and nothing else was done. I disagree. It has nothing to do with blame. The school is legally liable to make sure our kids are safe. To say nothing of the morality of it.

matt riggi
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That's understandable. Parents do want to know what is going on, and have a right to know. And I completely understand residents wanting to know what testing, if any, is being done. At the same time, though, it doesn't necessarily mean that the tests haven't been done, or that the school is hiding anything or that they're not doing all they can to figure this out. None of this is 100% proof that the school is guilty of anything or trying to cover anything up, or that they don't have the students best interest in mind. It's foolish, at this point, to put any blame on the school. I highly doubt the school would flat out lie about what is going on, either. The amount of attention this issue is recieveing, if they were to issue false statements, they would be destroyed by every agency. And don't think Erin Brockovich's team hasn't confirmed everything that has been said by the super. Any false reporting and she would be all over that, you know that Howard.

matt riggi
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Judith, that is my point exactly. The girls were given a diagnosis by a medical professional (not the school), and have been looked at by many others. If you question their reliability, then question the dr...not the school. If the school were deliberately putting any child in harms way the authorities would be all over them. The school isn't going to come up with a diagnosis of their own, that's not their job. And if they weren't doing their job of handling this properly, the state health dept would shut them right down.

Judith Kinsley ...
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Had the District been forthcoming from the very beginning, it would have never gotten to this point. Those girls would have never gone to the press if they had received satisfactory answers. The school has no one to blame but themselves. Why would you NOT publish test results when those are the questions being asked most? And I really wish that the EPA wasn't one of the supposed agencies helping. Probably not a good time to bring them and their "help" up.

matt riggi
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Well Judith, I respect your opinion. I just look at this differently than you. In my opinion, if anyone is to blame, it's the EPA. It's in their hands along with the other environmental agencies to find something at the school, if there is anything. It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out, as far as what is/isn't found at the school.

Judith Kinsley ...
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An excerpt from an email from Ms. Cox to the teachers:

"People are now focused on the fields. Think logically again, if fields were the cause, why isn't the entire football team affected? Why not Brian Moran!

Please also remember, kids have tics, they have panic attacks, they get tired and stay up too late, we need to approach this situations (sic) calmly."

Rather cavalier. And not someone with whom I feel comfortable to be in
charge of a serious situation.

Beth Kinsley
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That explains it all! They're not getting enough beauty rest! No need for experts with Ms. Cox on duty.

Rob Krzewinski
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Too bad Judith and Beth aren't in charge of this situation. I'm sure it wouldnt even be a situation. Beth you said it...the experts. The experts who are trained and qualified to research and find answers. The doctors. The environmental specialists. The experts. Ms. Cox is qualified to run a school. I'm sure she wasn't hired on a whim. Again, do people REALLY believe that the students safety is not their #1 priority??? Don't you think that members of administration with kids in the school would be pulling them out if something were wrong? The school said it was safe. I'm sorry I believed them. Lying in that situation probably wouldn't have been a good idea.

I just don't understand what people want from the school. When they give answers the answers aren't good enough. When doctors give a diagnosis that's not good enough. And apparently the dr isnt ggod enough. This is a horrible situation and I feel terrible for these girls and really hope they get better. Which I have heard that some are.

People ripping apart the school saying they aren't doing a good enough job isn't going to help. How many people know 100% what the school has or has not done??? Everyone is so quick to criticize when they don't hear what they want to hear. It's too bad. But I will continue to believe that the school is/has done what is necessary to keep the faculty, staff, and students safe.

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Am I the only person troubled by the fact that Ms. Cox felt it necessary to filter her statement through a lawyer?

To me, that brings in the transparency issue again. If you are simply stating facts and truths, why do you need a lawyer to approve of what you are putting out to the community?

Just sayin.....

Frank Bartholomew
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Anyone who believes a school district wouldn't lie is naive, just my 2 cents.

matt riggi
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Anyone who believes leroy school district would lie and not be a immediately outed by erin brockovich is equally naive. Still waiting for that proof I asked about earlier......

matt riggi
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Bob- I heard she wore all black the other day. That screams guilt, right!?

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Rob wrote "How many people know 100% what the school has or has not done???".

We don't. And that's just the point. And the problem. Because we should and they won't tell us.

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Rob wrote "How many people know 100% what the school has or has not done???".

And we don't. And that's just the point. And the problem. Because we should and they won't tell us.

Judith Kinsley ...
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Exactly. We shouldn't be the enemy here. Just tell me what you have done to ensure those kids are safe. I have the right to question and ask for more if I feel it is not enough. Which I obviously will. And have. It should have never come to this point and would not have if Ms. Cox had handled the situation differently from the start.

Kyle Couchman
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Seems to me Rob and Matt have more trust in the District than some of us do. I see the circle, the district isnt responsible for the science of the investigation, they are the go between for the public and the experts. Unfortuneatly as we can see from Howard's attempts at getting answers they arent forthcoming. I think the district officials are running scared, they are into something way over their heads and are getting into a conflict between Doctors, Environmentalists and worried parents. They are erring on the side of caution and making themselves look bad.

I think if they had come to the table alot earlier, and worked with the parents and public, being honest that they were out of their depth and skills and trying to get clear answers, then things might have been different by now. The school could have been with the parents and media at this point, protesting the conflicting reports and inaccuracies. I think they dont have much faith in what the experts are telling them either. They are probably thinking like mist of us did at fist that this would resolve itself and is just conincidental. It's not obviously.

At this point I think Ms Cox should reassess the district's choices and become transparent with the parents and maybe even join forces with the media and parents and start putting a fire under the feet of DOH EPA and the other organizations, something is definately not right here. I have done some research and I have seen that others have as well, this is VERY unusual to have 2 or 3 cases of this conversion disorder let alone over a dozen in the same time period. Even at schools that have had extreme drama at them (like Columbine and Virginia Tech) they havent had even close to the number of cases of so called conversion disorder, so why here at Leroy. Is there a staff member somehow victimizing students, is there a bully pressureing these different girls? There has to be a source for this stress and I just dont see it or believe the 911 stress theory.

It stinks, and you have to eliminate the source of the stink not just cover it up or deal with the results.

John Woodworth JR
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Well stated Ted. I guess Tim does not know that all visitors are required to annouce their arrival and purpose for their visit. This is for the safety of the students and staff of the LeRoy High School.

Rob Krzewinski
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In this world of social media everyone feels entitled to have to know everything about everything, right now. People just dig and dig and criticize and criticize. I still wonder what people feel that the school is withholding. LIke they have this HUGE secret that people can't wait to uncover. THey have repeatedly said the school is safe. Again...if it weren't then I'm sure students would be getting pulled out. If it weren't then I'm sure that the number of students that are "sick" would be much larger. What about the families that live around the school? They live right there...they are not sick.

And Judy, they have told you what they are doing to keep the students safe. They have told you they are/did environmental testing. They have told you they have tried to shield the students from the media to reduce stress and bring normalcy. They have told you all the agencies they are in contact with. What else do you want to know??? You criticize that they aren't doing enough. What else should they be doing? You criticize that they aren't giving us information. What else do you want to know?

If the families do not like the diagnosis of conversion order they are more than free to get a second, third, fourth opinion from other doctors. that is not a school issue. The school did not give the diagnosis.

Howard, just curious. What other information are you trying to get from the school that they aren't giving up? What do you feel they are not telling us? I just feel that we will never know 100% of any news story, not just this one. Conversations between the school and families is not our business to know. Though I feel like some people think it is.

I think the problem is everybody is so cynical and skeptical and it's really quite sad that we can't trust a school. A SCHOOL!!! When I think of dishonesty, lies, corruption, and secrecy...i think of schools. Come on. I mean after all, it has to be someone's fault, right?

Howard B. Owens
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Rob wrote, "In this world of social media everyone feels entitled to have to know everything about everything, right now."

It's ALWAYS been every taxpayer's right to know everything about everything. It's called transparency and it's what the government is obligated, both by ethics and by law, to be.

"Howard, just curious. What other information are you trying to get from the school that they aren't giving up? "

I take it you haven't been reading my stories. I've been open about the questions I've been asking.

"Conversations between the school and families is not our business to know. Though I feel like some people think it is. "

Nonsense. Where, even once, has anybody said, or even hinted, that they want information on conversations between the schools and families?

Rob Krzewinski
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Kyle, for the most part I agree with you. Matt and I both went through the school system and I can't speak for him but I am very proud to have gone through the LeRoy school system. There are a lot of wonderful people there. And while a lot of the people may be gone from when I was there the district does pride itself on hiring fine educators. Is it a perfect district? Maybe not...but is any district?

I do not totally agree with what you said about them running scared and not totally trusting the experts. They need to work together. I feel that the school coming out against them would be a poor choice.

When this began months ago I have to believe the school and the families got together. I hardly think the school ignored the problem and hoped it would go away. The students got helped and were diagnosed with conversion disorder. The reason the families went to the media is because they were not happy with that diagnosis.

What if these students had something else in common besides school? Some sort of traumatic event in their lives that has triggered this? I have read somewhere or heard on something that a doctor said these girls have something else in common besides school but he is not at liberty to say.

If anything I'm wondering why this is all on the school...this is a community event. Why hasn't the village come out and given a statement?

Howard B. Owens
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"When this began months ago I have to believe the school and the families got together."

Actually, that's one of the families' complaints that came out at the community meeting -- lack of communication from the district, not bringing the families together for discussion, not facilitating communication among the families, not sharing information with the families about what the district was doing.

"The reason the families went to the media is because they were not happy with that diagnosis."

The reason the families went to the media is because they felt local and state officials were not giving straight answers and where withholding information, which caused them to distrust the diagnosis.

Conversion disorder is a diagnosis that is made only after all other possible causes have been ruled out, and the families have said they're not convinced a thorough investigation was done in order to properly arrive at a conversion disorder diagnosis.

Judith Kinsley ...
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Gotta work on that reading comprehension Rob. I learned it at the LeRoy Central School system. As a matter of fact, my father was an administrator at the elementary school for 25 years so I have some knowledge of the position and the responsibilities.

From Rob:

And Judy, they have told you what they are doing to keep the students safe.

What exactly have they told me? They kept the evil media away from the soccer field and the team of scientists who were offering free testing of what may or may not be the problem?

They have told you they are/did environmental testing.

They told the teachers the same thing and the FOIL request revealed they had not been truthful with their own employees who work in that system every day. Why would they be truthful with me? Once again, look at the test results that have been provided. I'm not able to understand why you cannot see that they are totally inadequate.

They have told you they have tried to shield the students from the media to reduce stress and bring normalcy.

My daughter is more stressed about the health of people she cares about and the lack of answers they have received to their illness and the cause. She could care less if a thousand news outlets watch a man stick a shovel in the soccer field and wishes they would!

They have told you all the agencies they are in contact with.

They have told me nothing about what these agencies are actually doing. Howard has also been "in contact with" these agencies. We all see how far that went.

What else do you want to know??? You criticize that they aren't doing enough. What else should they be doing? You criticize that they aren't giving us information. What else do you want to know?

They need to get their asses out in that field, up by those gas wells, testing the emissions from those smoke stacks, more thorough testing for mold in a gym and basement and classrooms that have known leakage, past and present. Need I go on? Had the school administration done their jobs, we would not be here. And not a chance in hell would I be on here posting and subjecting myself to people like you if the school had given me the information that I need to protect my daughter and that I have a right to.

matt riggi
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Judith, let's not get personal with peoples reading comprehension skills. Everyone has their own opinion on this, but as I have said, and even Howard has said, there is no proof saying what tests are or aren't being done. I understand people want answers, and i understand Howard wants to be able to report that to us, but just because those answers aren't coming doesn't mean nothing is being done. Has the school been completely transparent with their findings? I can't answer that because I don't know if they have findings to be transparent with. Everyone has voiced all sides of their opinion here. I understand both sides and find no reason to put blame on the school. Their is no hard proof that says they haven't done the proper tests, or that they don't have the kids best interest at heart. I've said this a few times, Chris' comment hits the nail on the head. They have handled the media poorly. I can deal with that as long as they are doing what they can to find a cause and solution, and at this point, there is no evidence to prove otherwise. There's really not much more to say.

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I go with Chris on this also. The fact that the district has handled this poorly is without question. But nobody has shown that there is any cover up, or attempt to "CYA", or given an intelligent answer why the Board would even want to try. If this is environmentally related, this Board had nothing to do with it. And we do not know for certain it is enoviomental yet.

There is an environmental issue in LeRoy, but it might not be related to the children.

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I have never said a word about a "cover up." On the contrary, I previously stated the opposite. What I said repeatedly was that it was a total lack of interest and acceptance of responsibility on the part of the school. Once the doctor called this "conversion disorder" (and subsequently due to 9/11), any further research ended. Irresponsibly. And the District absolutely does have everything to do with it if the issue is on the grounds. Which we don't know if it is or not, due to an enormous lack of information.

I have also said, it may not be at all related to the school (other than the fact it is the one known thing these kids have in common). We will not know that if we do not pursue the issue further. Which the school obviously had no intention of doing if these girls had not gone to the press. I suppose I will continue to reiterate my previous statements.

Rob Krzewinski
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Howard wrote: "It's ALWAYS been every taxpayers right to know everything about everything. It's called transparency and it's what the government is obligated both by ethics and by law to be."
Fair enough. It is our right to know information. The government is obligated to. I feel that the district is doing what they can. I believe that, clearly others don't.

"I take it you haven't been reading my stories. I've been open about the questions I've been asking."

No, i've been following along. I even looked back a little. Maybe I overlooked or have just forgotten. I did see where you asked about the testing and pressed further and Ms. Cox said she wasn't exactly sure of what testing. I believe that was what she said. Saying she isn't exactly sure of what testing might mean that exactly what the testing involves. I dont' know. But I feel like you think they she is holding out on you. Honestly, I've heard it from others that I have talked with that you sound bitter Howard that you aren't getting the scoop being the local guy. I know you are going to say that you want answers and the school isn't be "transparent" but through your words it just sounds personal. That is the opinion of some.

"Nonsense. Where, even once, has anybody said or even hinted that they want information on conversations between the schools and families?"

You just said it when you said we have the right to know everything about everything. I said how we don't know what has been said to the families and you said that was part of the problem.

Gerald Robinson
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Maybe i miss heard this the other day on TV, but I'm going to throw it out there anyways to see if anyone else remembers. Didn't that "Bockock guy go on national TV (may have been the Dr. Drew show) and say that he can't do any testing on the ground for a few months because it's frozen. Don't you think he probably new that when he showed up on a Saturday with a six inch garden shovel (was it even a shovel). You would think someone that has been doing environmental work for over 25 years would know that. I would also guess he probably knew he needed a permit but, my point is this if this guy said you can't do anymore testing on the ground what makes anyone think that the school can. Although i find that hard to believe that the ground is to froze to test so i'm not sure what his reasoning was for not being able to do it.

Rob Krzewinski
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Howard said: "Actually, that's one of the families' complaints that came out at the community meeting -- lack of communication from the district, not bringing the families together for discussion, not facilitating communication among the families, not sharing information with the families about what the district was doing."

That was one families complaint. Are the others saying the same thing? I'm not saying they aren't...I'm just wondering.

"The reason the families went to the media is because they felt local and state officials were not giving straight answers and where withholding information, which caused them to distrust the diagnosis.

Conversion disorder is a diagnosis that is made only after all other possible causes have been ruled out, and the families have said they're not convinced a thorough investigation was done in order to properly arrive at a conversion disorder diagnosis."

If they distrusted the diagnosis they have the right to go to another doctor or specialist. The school did not give the diagnosis.

Its just that your focus seems to be on the school. You are pressing and pressing for answers. Obviously you feel the statements and releases being made aren't good enough. Have you tried talking to the girls? Or their families? Maybe there is a reason for the conversion order. You just seem to be pressing the school for answers and you are not satisfied. I see you have tried contacting the other "agencies" as well. I'm just saying, what about the families? What's the connection besides school?

Rob Krzewinski
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"Gotta work on that reading comprehension Rob. I learned it at the LeRoy Central School system. As a matter of fact, my father was an administrator at the elementary school for 25 years so I have some knowledge of the position and the responsibilities."

I'm asking questions and sharing my opinion. You had to throw in attacks on intelligence. Stay classy Judy. I'll work on my reading comp.
Its also sad to me that you can't trust the school system that employed your father for 25 years.

"What exactly have they told me? They kept the evil media away from the soccer field and the team of scientists who were offering free testing of what may or may not be the problem?

Is that all you have taken away from their statements and press releases? They kept a team of scientists with no credentials away from the soccer field. And they have their own team of scientists. I have a cousin who does environmental testing in NJ and he mentioned to me how you just can't start letting people start doing testing. It can open up a whole set of new problems. Clearly the school trusts their own set of experts.

"My daughter is more stressed about the health of people she cares about and the lack of answers they have received to their illness and the cause. She could care less if a thousand news outlets watch a man stick a shovel in the soccer field and wishes they would! "

You don't feel this national media attention hasn't added to the stress? I understand she is worried about her friends but tests have been done. It has been said over and over and over again that the school is safe. I think everyone is on edge and worried . But blaming the school is not going to help.

"They need to get their asses out in that field, up by those gas wells, testing the emissions from those smoke stacks, more thorough testing for mold in a gym and basement and classrooms that have known leakage, past and present. Need I go on?"

Judy, they can test until the cows come home. They aren't finding anything. If there was then more than 15 students would be sick. As much as you want it to be something in the air, water, or soil...it's not. They've already said that.

"Had the school administration done their jobs, we would not be here. And not a chance in hell would I be on here posting and subjecting myself to people like you if the school had given me the information that I need to protect my daughter and that I have a right to."

The school administrations job is to run a school. They are doing that. From what I've seen LeRoy is a pretty good district with some good people. Are they in a little over their heads...probably. Are they doing their best...I think so. Clearly you do not.
And, "subjecting yourself to the likes of me"? really? I am a pretty horrible person. I have an opinion. How dare I?
How are you going to protect your daughter more? If you are that concerned then pull her out. Home school her. Send her to a private school, another school. Student population is 1200? 15 students have this? Yeah, 15 is a lot and it is horrible but chances are your child is safe. I really wonder what other conncections these students have besides the school. I am not a parent Judy so I do not totally understand what you are thinking. I have to imagine you are stressed and worried as well. I get that. I feel that this is no longer a school issue.

Rob Krzewinski
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"I have never said a word about a "cover up."
Not the words...but it is implied. When you feel that the school has a lack of information they are sharing then you must think they are withholding something. Again, like its a big secret that they don't want to let out.

"And the District absolutely does have everything to do with it if the issue is on the grounds. Which we don't know if it is or not, due to an enormous lack of information. "

I 100% agree. But we do know. They have said it. The school is safe.

Obviously we disagree Judy...but please answer this. Don't you think if it was environmental there would be a lot more students sick?

Judith Kinsley ...
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That is the entire problem Rob. I do not know. I am not a scientist. I am not qualified to make that supposition. At this point, I can only beg those who have the power to hire the people who do have that knowledge, to please do that. Which has been my whole entire purpose from Day One. And if I have to voice my opinions repeatedly to get that done, and be a thorn in the side of those who have the power to make that decision, then so be it.

I am going to attempt to foresee the future. Also something I am not qualified for, but then, who is? I predict that all the voices raised in my community, who are asking for more action, will get exactly that from our District. A District I was raised to trust. I do believe that public opinion does have power and that this will be one of those times we can make a difference. So hold on to your hat, testing and test results are forthcoming.

Rob Krzewinski
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I agree Judy. I just feel that they have already done that. They have brought in the experts that have done the testing.
I'm guessing that you have voiced your concerns directly to the school? You have every right to do that. And I hope you get the answers you are looking for.

I truly believe that the school is safe. Now it is time to move on to help the students that are afflicted. Get them the help they need to get better.

One thing is for sure. This issue has definitely shown that people do care about their community.

Howard B. Owens
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Gerald, I have a hard time believing Bowcock said that. I walked right next to him as we returned from the area of school building to the park parking lot. The field was soggy and muddy the entire way. At one point, we came across wide and long, but shallow puddle. Bowcock walked around it, but I had on my heavy boots, so I just walked right through it (there were also people on my right and my left, giving me little room to go around it and we were deep in a conversation about the movie China Town). All that to say -- I have a clear memory of how soggy the fields were. They weren't frozen and I can't imagine Bowcock believing they were frozen.

Rob, anybody who has read the site for any length of time would no I'm an absolute extremist about the First Amendment and government transparency. I'm delivering the same message about transparency now that I've delivered about other government agencies in the past.

I'm also upset at what this situation has become, and I believe it was avoidable, and for that I hold the school district responsible. Erin Bockovich and Dr. Drew never would have heard about this if the school district had done a better job of winning the trust of the parents and the community.

Gerald Robinson
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I don't doubt that you walked next to him and i know it's muddy but, i know what i heard and was hoping someone else could back me up. But nobody stepped up so i looked back and i found the link and attached it. I can save you all time it's around the three minute mark. I listen and read everything about this and I'm amazed at what gets reported or how things get twisted. That's not a shot at you, that ones at the local radio shows, i think you've done a pretty thorough job on this. I follow this story as much as i can. I have a three kids in Le Roy School and my house sits in a direct line from the train wreck to the school. My only complaint about your reporting on this is you printed that the Doctor on the story took all that money but, didn't look into why. That ruined that guys credibility with a lot of the people that were already skeptical about the original diagnosis and i feel your a little more thorough in your reporting than that. But that's not your fault you got that info and ran with it because it was good but then it came back and bite you in the end. I just think people listen but they don't actually always stop to listen to what they here. So after everyone listens to this, this expert who's been in the business for 21 years says no soil can be taken until the spring because the ground is frozen so we can stop beating the soil sample to death. Jerry

http://www.hlntv.com/video/2012/01/31/web-exclusive-brockovich-associate...

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