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Investigation into teachers' tumor concerns at Decatur Township school to begin Wednesday

State health department aware of worries
Posted at 5:30 AM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 08:20:09-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The investigation into serious illnesses involving teachers at a southwest side elementary school in Decatur Township will begin Wednesday.

The Blue and Gold Academies are in the same facility off Mann Road in Indianapolis with 147 staff members 1,396 students.

To date, the health concerns involve female teachers in the school who were diagnosed with head-related tumors in August 2019, September 2019 and January 2020. A fourth teacher received a tumor diagnosis in 2018.

The four cases have sparked testing that will examine the building inside and out.

"We wanted to be proactive and bring in someone to look through and vet this to determine if there is anything. If there is we will address it,” MSD Decatur Township superintendent Matthew Prusiecki said.

The latest incident in January was reported to school officials on Jan. 28. Prusiecki was alerted on Jan. 30, which led him to looking
for a company to handle the situation.

RELATED | Decatur Township teachers' health concerns spark school testing

On Feb. 3, Avon-based pH2 LLC laid out the scope of its planned work, which will include interviewing staff beginning Wednesday. Staff can choose to not share medical information. Their participation in the investigation is voluntary.

The superintendent said the company is prepared to also conduct testing of the school building.

"The fact we are not conducting this as a school district we have nothing to hide, but to go through all of the facility, land, building and air, looking comprehensively at every aspect possible to vet the possibility that will impact students’ and staff health,” Prusiecki said.

The goal of testing is to calm fears and if necessary take action based on the results. The state health department is the state agency with authority to look into this matter. No formal review is open.

An agency spokesperson told RTV6 in a written statement that, “In Indiana, individuals who have concerns about possible elevated levels of specific types of cancer in their communities can contact the Indiana State Department of Health’s Cancer Control Program. The program works with the concerned party to gather more information and follow the process outlined in the guidelines posted here.

The agency spokesperson added, “it is rare to discover a cancer cluster due to a common environmental cause, and none have ever been identified in Indiana. As a group, cancers are very common.”

The testing at the Blue and Gold academies is expected to come with an initial cost of about $100,000.

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