NORTHPORT, N.Y. - Instead of going to school on Thursday, some students and their parents staged a so-called sickout outside to voice concerns about environmental hazards at Northport Middle School.
"We expect the environment to be safe and healthy," parent John Zadrozny said.
But he said he believes that's not the case. He along with other parents have been battling the Northport-East Northport School District for years about a foul smell inside the building that some students say is distracting and makes them sick.
"It smells like baby vomit, dead animal and sewage," said one student.
Issues of air quality concerns date back decades. The school's K-wing was closed for a period of time in 2017 after findings revealed toxic materials were being stored in a warehouse below that part of the school.
A cesspool in another location is believed to have had heavy metals inside. That's where former teacher John Kobel said his science and technology classroom was for 28 years. His health has never been the same since.
"Heavy metal poisoning, mold poisoning, prostate, skin cancer," Kobel said.
We asked the district to explain why so many people are getting sick. Instead, we were directed to the district website where letters from the superintendent to the community insist there's no air quality issue and that safety of the students and staff is a top priority.
"We have a list of 47 teachers who have cancer, miscarriages, they're either still dealing with or have passed and 18 students," Tammie Topel said.
About 100 parents are expected to attend a Board of Education meeting scheduled for Thursday night. We're told the superintendent will discuss the possibility of forming a committee to oversee soil testing at the middle school.
Parents who were at the rally promise to be persistent.
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