State is asked to investigate health concerns at old Bayshore High School

jajones1@bradenton.comApril 25, 2014 

Staff Photographer

A group of alumni sent a complaint about health concerns at Bayshore High School to the governor's office.PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

PAUL VIDELA — pvidela@bradenton.com Buy Photo

MANATEE -- Long-standing health concerns about old Bayshore High School have resurfaced with calls for a state investigation of the site.

A complaint by Cheryl Lumsden Joza, sent to Gov. Rick Scott's office, has been referred to the Department of Education inspector general for review and action deemed appropriate.

"I have been trying for years to get information, information that should be public record, in regards to the old Bayshore High School," wrote Joza in an email April 18 to the Florida Governor Inspector General. Joza represents a group of Bayshore alumni.

"We have an unusually high number of alumni who have died of cancer/have been diagnosed with cancer, and children born with birth defects," she wrote in the email.

One possible culprit, says Joza: underground storage tanks on the property.

Concerns about Bayshore High School, 5401 34th St. W., go back years. In 1993, Bayshore was investigated for possible sick building syn

drome in response to employees' concerns.

In 2007, Sen. Bill Galvano, then a member of the Florida House of Representatives, hosted a town hall meeting on concerns about the school.

Galvano, R-Bradenton, called the meeting in response to questions raised by more than 70 people who attended class or worked at the old Bayshore High School and who suffered from a variety of illnesses.

Some have speculated that the illnesses are linked to suspected contamination at the old Bayshore High School when two underground fuel tanks were removed.

The two underground tanks were removed from the school property, one in 1989 and the other in 1995.

In November 2007, Galvano reported the results of tests taken at Bayshore High that showed no dangerous levels of contaminants in the soil or groundwater.

Old Bayshore High School operated from the 1960s until it was closed in the 1990s and replaced by a new building just to the south.

Asked about the Bayshore concerns, Mike Barber, a spokesman for the Manatee School District, said that the issue has been dormant for some time and has not previously come before the leadership team of Superintendent Rick Mills.

Mills was appointed superintendent in January 2013.

James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter: @jajones1.

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