To the Editor:
How is it that hundreds of children attend Miller-Driscoll each year, and only two, just two, children – Madison and Collin Lowthert – have allegedly suffered “sustained injuries which can be permanent or long-standing…including chronic congestion, cognitive symptoms, asthma, building-related illness, mold, allergy, allergic symptoms, nosebleeds, headaches, sore throat, nausea, behavioral changes, and insomnia,” according to the lawsuit filed by Marissa and Christopher Lowthert against the Town of Wilton. A few points/questions:
First, has an indoor air quality assessment been conducted at the Lowtherts’ house? Clearly, their children spend more hours at home than they do at school, so without an assessment of the air quality at their home, isn’t it possible that their home environment is the cause of any alleged health issues?
Secondly, the indoor air quality assessment conducted at Miller-Driscoll School by TRC found that, “The baseline air sampling results for comfort parameters of temperature, CO, CO2, total particulates and relative humidity all were within recommended guidelines for schools, noting schools in the northeast region typically have low RH levels during colder months. The microbial analysis results for indoor air samples were all within normal ranges for mold species found in the New England region for the time of year testing occurred.”
Third, where are the copies of any medical reports substantiating the Lowtherts’ claims regarding their children’s “injuries,” and if these reports exist, what are the credentials of the doctors who may have issued these reports?
Fourth, many of the “illnesses” cited in the suit, such as sore throats and nausea, are typical childhood illnesses. My own kids had sore throats at least 2-3 times a year in grade school. Has it been established that the Lowthert children have had these conditions with greater frequency than the average grade school child?
Fifth, have Madison and Collin been tested for Lyme disease because many of the symptoms cited in the lawsuit are consistent with symptoms of Lyme disease?
I believe these are questions/points that should be addressed, if they haven’t been yet.
Editor’s note: Until now, we have not printed the names of the Lowthert children. Because they were included in the letter and the children’s names were explicitly stated in the lawsuits filed by the Lowtherts themselves, we have determined it does not violate our policies to include their names here. Additionally, the author of the letter is a contributor to GMW, but she has written this Letter to the Editor as a resident of Wilton and independently from any editorial news coverage of the website. This letter has appeared in other local news media.
Update, Feb. 4, 2017, Editor’s note: The author of this letter is married to a former member of the M-D Building Committee. At the time this letter was published, GMW was unaware of the connection, but it was recently brought to our attention.
Far more than two children have become sick in multiple Wilton schools due to mold or air quality, most recently the high school.
The Lowtherts, Lauricellas, and many others have experienced and spoken up out of concern and with extensive, documented facts about multiple school and town issues in addition to air quality issues, only to be ignored, dismissed, bullied and vilified by residents and town and school officials. Many others have NOT spoken up because of the treatment so many have received.
It’s not individuals or a citizen’s group that have run up the town’s legal bills. That has been done by the town and school officials (past and present) who have chosen to stonewall, deny, be misleading or untruthful. Town and school attorneys lead the way to marginalize and fight residents who seek information and expose problems. Not all town and school officials use those tactics, but the ones who do have cost the town money, credibility and morale.
Outgoing selectman Ken Dartley was told by a “prominent Wiltonian” that “you don’t have to listen to the people.” Unfortunately that has been the pervasive attitude for many years. Mr. Dartley disagrees with that, which makes him leaving the BoS such a loss to the town.
Fortunately new leadership has taken over on the BoS and a new school superintendent arrived last year. What should happen next–as a resident (who is an attorney) told the Board of Selectmen at their November 16 meeting—is to get a new lawyer. The Board of Education should get a new lawyer too. The town and schools need a new attitude and new policies to admit to and fix problems and show residents that they are listened to, that their children’s health and welfare are of great concern and that their tax dollars are spent prudently.
To the people who dismiss or criticize residents whose experiences or opinions are different than theirs, or whose scrutiny and tenacity uncover things they never questioned, please have some humble pie. And instead of criticism offer them thanks because they have the courage to speak up, educate the rest of us in the process and make Wilton a better place.
Editor’s Note: This comment was amended to redact the name of a family which the author says has experienced the same things as the Lowtherts. We have tried to contact the commenter to verify his/her claim or to ask the family to confirm with us directly. We do not want to remove the comment, but until we receive confirmation we will leave the name redacted.
UPDATE: We have restored the original name written by the commenter after comments were clarified to indicate that the family in question was connected to issues other than air quality. Because that family has spoken publicly about their particular complaints, we have allowed the name to be used.
I really do not think that it is appropriate to include the children’s names just because the names are written in a letter to the editor. It would be the discretion of the publication to do so.
Wouldn’t the author have cared to have been asked by the publication to avoid using minors’ names? I would have found that a respectful approach to young children in the community.
Apparently, the school district’s own recommended doctors confirmed the findings of the other doctors regarding the affects and effects of the school environment on the children. This was asserted in the documents. Accordingly, those findings will have to be presented in the case.
It would also be expected that the children’s health has been monitored and documented after having no longer been in the building. This is all common sense.
Yet, the TRC analysis and report were apparently conducted after these particular children were in the school and after the time in which filters were replaced and clean ups performed prior to testing.
The timing of these points is important. We can not superimpose test results from a later date onto prior conditions. And it was disclosed that IAQ testing had not been fully implemented over the years.
There were other analyses and their respective reports that provided pictures and statements of mold on walls, ceiling, and furniture. So, these conditions existed.
The Facilities director had stated in Dec 2013 that they had no records of maintenance being performed on HVAC or other areas.
HVAC operations are critical in maintaining proper humidity controls so that if there is any moisture intrusion which is documented to have been the case or just normal occupancy use by students and staff, effective and properly maintained and operating HVAC systems, roof systems, and masonry would ensure that humidity and water would be expelled or repelled from the building and classrooms. CO2 measurements indicate whether humidity is also being controlled.
And I seem to recall that in some rooms, tests were conducted while the rooms were unoccupied or tests were truncated. There were articles that said that CO2 continued to climb in some occupied rooms – so the questions would be was all the testing continued through complete occupancy.
CO2 tests should be done while the rooms are occupied fully and for the full time. They and other tests should also be conducted during appropriate seasons. One doesn’t test for mold only during low mold seasons and when the AC is not operational.
Some tests were apparently conducted when air conditioning efficacy could not be measured because of the time of year (winter, early spring) and when mold is at its lowest points; but to have a complete understanding, the testing should be done when the building is fully occupied during molds highest count months to understand whether the building’s systems can create and maintain healthy indoor measurements through proper process and protocols.
As the editor’s note states, the choice to make the children’s names public was actually made by their parents when the names were included in the lawsuit. Their names have appeared in numerous other articles and that is why the decision was made to let the author’s letter stand as written.
While there may be legal aspects to having to name minor children in a lawsuit, the proliferation of the minor children’s names can have descretion.
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