Parents say plumbing leak caused kids' sickness

Parents say plumbing leak caused kids' sickness

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Several students and two teachers at a St. Lucie County elementary school say they fell ill after a plumbing leak went unattended for weeks.

Now, they are preparing a lawsuit, demanding answers.

A teacher we talked to, who asked to not be identified in fear of retribution, says a smell appeared right after spring break, around March 22. The smell was coming from an area between two portables. They thought it would pass, but instead, two teachers and many students fell ill, requiring hospital or doctor's visits. All with the same symptoms.

"There was this really bad smell in the classroom," says 10-year-old Gidaya Ruby. "And then we got really sick and started getting headaches and coughing. We felt like we couldn't breathe."

Mother Barbara Athanasatos says about her son, "He even asked my mother if she would give him Motrin and I don't know any 10-year-old that asks for Motrin. That's how bad his head was hurting today."

Another mother, Stephanie Concepcion, says about her son, "He broke in hives on Friday, the nurse sent him home and now he's on an inhaler. He had chest X-rays, blood work done. He's still coughing really bad."

And those were the parents and kids comfortable on camera. We met over a dozen parents and students who all had the same complaints.

"I think it's more than just ironic that all our kids, all have the same symptoms," Athanasatos says.

On Thursday, St. Lucie Public Schools District, in a statement, acknowledged a broken plumbing pipe on campus, reporting it had been fixed and the air tested clean, but that was sent to our newsdesk. Parents are still in the dark.

"Nothing. They've done nothing. We were never notified if there was a leak," Athanasatos says.

"Very frustrating because we had no idea, Concepcion says.

"Even now, to this very day now, not even an apology letter," says Maryann Ruby, Gidaya's mother.

Gidaya says class has been in and out of the portable classroom, without any clear reasons why.

"Every teacher told me a different thing so it was obvious it was a lie," she says.

On Friday, the 34 parents met with a lawyer to prepare a lawsuit.

We reached out to the school district to ask for an interview, but so far, we haven't heard back.

Scripps Only Content 2017