Families confront school board member over CO leak



ATLANTA - Eight mothers standing with two attorneys confronted Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Vice Chairman Byron Amos Tuesday.

They are trying to get answers to the question: Who is going to pay their children's medical bills for treatment after exposure to carbon monoxide inside Finch Elementary School last week?'

"You poisoned their kids, you probably ought to pay the bill," lawyer Bill Atkins told Amos.

Atkins and attorney Stephanie D. Banks told Channel 2's Shae Rozzi that they're representing 19 families, which include 44 students who received treatment.

Some of the parents drove their children to the hospital while others were taken by ambulance and by school bus to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding when the school was evacuated.

"This is very emotional and draining for us as parents," Antarneka Stephens said to Amos.

She and another mother were concerned that counseling has not been offered to their children. The women stated that some of the children were having nightmares and are constantly asking their mothers to check the carbon monoxide detectors inside their home.

Stephens also said there has been a lack of communication with parents since the incident.

"No one has called and said 'how's your son doing, how are your kids doing?' There's no concern," Stephens told Rozzi.

Another mother said no one from the school has asked about anyone experiencing any symptoms prior to the evacuation on Dec. 3.

Natasha Notae started to cry wondering how long carbon monoxide had been leaking inside the school. She said her son had been sick for a few days.

"He had very bad headaches and I just kept telling him, go and lay down, just go and lay down," Notae said.

In a news conference last week, the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools stated that maintenance workers failed to properly flip a valve while performing work inside the boiler room on Nov. 30, causing the buildup of carbon monoxide that weekend which sickened staff and students.

Channel 2 Action News requested maintenance records on the school's boiler. The documents released to Channel 2 so far end on Oct. 2.

Amos said a full investigation is still under way and apologizes for any lack of communication. He emailed Rozzi a copy of a letter he said he sent home with students on Friday asking parents to reach out to him to express any concerns.

"We need to make sure we're doing everything possible to make sure our parents are feeling secure," Amos told Rozzi. "To make sure our kids are feeling safe and secure as well."

Amos expected to be confronted Tuesday when he agreed to meet with Rozzi for an interview. Rozzi explained that she was meeting with parents and their lawyers at the same time.

Amos told Rozzi that a PTA meeting being held at Finch Elementary on Wednesday could turn into an open forum for these parents.

The mothers who spoke with Rozzi told her they hope the superintendent attends so they could be heard.

Channel 2 Action News

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