Parents file lawsuit against school

Parents file lawsuit against school

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

Rockford Police Union President Doug Block spent countless hours trying to force the city to give officers the right to live outside the city and better wages. Now, he wages a battle against another institution: the Rockford School District.

Block and his wife, Chris, are suing for violations to the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 because of their daughter, Amanda, 17.

They believe Amanda’s school, Guilford High, contains mold that has made her asthma flare up. They allege she suffers asthma attacks only while in classes. Many times, her condition has forced her to have schooling at home, they say.

While at home, Amanda has failed to receive proper steps to modify the 504 plan, tailored to the needs of students with medical conditions, the Blocks’ lawsuit states.

District Attorney James Hess stated that in regard to the 504 plan not being carried out correctly, it’s an issue that must be investigated.

Amanda has suffered physical and emotional pain and a lack of cooperation from teachers, lowering the A/B student’s Grade Point Average, the lawsuit states.

A meeting in October 2000, and January 2001 with school district administrators resulted in the recommendation that Amanda withdraw from school. They also recommended that she attend alternative night school and off-campus, college courses. But the Blocks refused, and completed her work at home.

Block said that administrators indicated that Amanda should either transfer to Jefferson or quit school. The Blocks want the problem resolved at Guilford.

“The student never asked for transfer to another school, and in fact, was unwilling to transfer to another high school,” Hess said. “She should go to the school which she thinks is appropriate and meets her health needs.”

Hess considers the lawsuit a “nuisance.”

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“According to the complaint, the student allegedly suffered asthmatic attacks because of the air quality at Guilford High School,” he stated. “To my knowledge, no other students have experienced similar problems.”

He believes that Amanda’s response to the mold in the school is selective. “There’s only one place on this earth that supposedly has mold? It’s difficult to believe. There are mold spores everywhere. They’re in her home, I’m sure,” he said.

Amanda’s ailments began in January 2000. From that time until the present time, she has needed an ambulance to pick her up five times. Medical testing in the spring of 2000 confirmed that Amanda had asthma and up to 46 types of allergies, including, but not limited to, mold, cockroaches, dust , etc., the lawsuit states.

Her diagnosis confirmed that she had “multiple respiratory allergies and bronchial asthma,” according to the lawsuit. Her doctor has ordered several treatments, but none have proved effective enough.

More than 65 classrooms tested at levels higher than the maximum amount for carbon dioxide recommended by ASHRAE, and the classrooms tested at or under the recommended levels for carbon monoxide, the Blocks state.

The school tested for mold in September 2000 at the urging of the Blocks. The school only tested in Amanda’s classrooms. The Blocks say they unsuccessfully endeavored to get the entire school tested for mold.

“ … classrooms where Amanda had classes showed moldy tiles, improper ventilation and the presence of plants and other allergens; requests for scrapings of the mold for testing were made by Plaintiffs, yet no such materials were provided to Plaintiff’s by School District employees (despite an agreement to do so,” according to the lawsuit.

Hess said in regard to tests, “Apparently, the administration was satisfied with the results of the test.”

The Blocks seek training and education of all district employees, as pursuant to the federal acts; allowing Amanda to participate in softball, which she was denied because of low grades; taking care of environmental issues; correcting grade reports for the 2000-2001 school year; and giving Amanda compensatory education necessary to correct the reports and allow appropriate steps.

Parents of children who are experiencing similar problems can call the Blocks’ attorney, Joyce O’Neill, at 963-4895. Calls will be confidential.

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