New Mexico High School Update

The case of Paul Taylor vs. Roswell Independent School District took a new turn this week.

Paul Taylor sued the school district in November 2008, requesting permission to test Goddard High School's indoor air after his daughter became ill. Taylor won the right to test. The school was found to have "massive fungal presence as shown by fungal DNA" including stachybotrys and several types of aspergillus. Asbestos fibers were found in airstream pathways as well.

Part of the court order included an admonition that the school district retain all evidence. The court also stated that evidence must not be removed without allowing access to Taylor.

This week the court ruled that the District violated the order by completing repairs, remediation, and removing construction materials at issue in the lawsuit, and failed to turn them over to Taylor for testing and examination. Further, the court ruled, "all materials that were removed, remediated, repaired, and/or destroyed by the School District in violation of the May 1, 2009 Order are presumed to be contaminated with mold and/or toxin producing pathogens."

To view the press release about the court ruling, click here.

A document signed by the treating physician for Taylor's daughter, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, makes an interesting point regarding the well-being of the students at Goddard High School.

"In this instance, it is my opinion that we have an historical precedent in the fields of public health and epidemiology to show us the way to our next step.

In the late 1850’s, cholera was the scourge of London.

An observant physician, John Snow, noted the presence of cholera, diagnosed by symptoms, clinical course and outcome, was confined to those people in a given area who drank water from a single public well but not from another.

He stopped people from drinking from the putative causative well and the cholera epidemic abated. It wasn’t known that cholera was caused by a water-borne bacterium (Vibrio cholera) until the 1880’s and it wasn’t known that the mechanism of cholera illness involved a watersoluble toxin until the 1950’s.

Yet by protecting the children by stopping use of a well, even before he had every detail needed to show exactly every step of specific causation, he saved countless lives.

In 2010, we would test the well water for Vibrio toxins, confirm the problem, fix the source of the toxin entry into our children and re-open the well because we all need potable water.

. . . In this case, given the clear delineation of illness (one that is statistically impossible to be ascribed to chance), protection of the children at GHS from toxins and inflammagens is a duty no less important now than in 1856. That duty extends beyond medical care and points directly to assessment of potential health risk posed by a public facility.

The duty is clear: Identify the problem, correct the problem, fix the source so it never recurs and return the children to a safe fountain of knowledge."